Plonsk (Poland), Auschwitz, Birkenau, Janinagrube
Dach was born in 1923 in Plonsk, Poland. He lived there with his parents and his three elder brothers until the German army occupied his hometown in September 1939. Immediately the Germans started executing Jewish intellectuals and all Jews became slave laborers. Dach notes that he, along with other forced workers, had to take part in burning the bodies of Jews who had been killed by the Germans. The SS established a ghetto and gathered all Jews there. Within the ghetto torture took place every day and many people died of typhus, due to the terrible sanitary conditions.
In 1941 the Germans liquidated the ghetto. The inmates were told that they would be shipped to other regions, where they could settle. In reality they were sent on cattle cars to Auschwitz. Dach’s parents and brothers were shipped on one of the first transports. After World War II, Dach heard from a survivor that his parents were burned alive in Auschwitz. Dach was on the last transport from the ghetto in Plonsk to Auschwitz. The journey took three days in cattle cars with no sanitary facilities or food.
Immediately after arrival, all prisoners, including Dach, had number tattooed on their arms. The Nazis intention was to take advantage of those who were physically able to work and then to work them to death – the others were executed at once. All day and night transports with prisoners arrived in Auschwitz, and more prisoners’ barracks had to be built. Dach worked as a bricklayer during that time.
In 1943 Dach was sent to the Birkenau concentration camp. At Birkenau no water or sanitary facilities existed. Dach mentions that many inmates – who did not die of starvation or execution – committed suicide. Dach managed to survive, and in early 1944 he was sent to work for the Janinagrube coal mine, which was situated near Auschwitz. Since the prisoners had to work from dawn until dusk, Dach did not see the sunlight for almost a year.
In January 1945 he was shipped to Auschwitz again. Dach notes that some of his friends died as victims of experiments implemented by Dr. Mengele, the camp’s physician. Pregnant women were immediately send to the gas chambers and small babies were smashed to death in front of their mothers. The gas chambers and crematoriums were running day and night. Members of the so-called Sonderkommando were assigned to clear and clean the gas chambers and to shovel bodies into the ovens.
As the Russian army approached Auschwitz, the Nazis started to destroy every evidence of their crimes and also blew up the crematoriums. Their intention was that the remaining inmates, as including Dach, should be killed by sending them on a death march without any food or water. Dach was able to escape with two other men during the third day of the death march. A Polish farmer hid them.
At this point, the video recording is interrupted.
Date: Nov. 23, 1994
Interviewer: John Dalkstrom
Length: 40 minutes
Format: Video recording