Tuchklaper, Sally (Birenbaum)

Tuchklaper, Sally (Birenbaum)

Radom (Poland), Blizin, Auschwitz, Crazha (Czechoslovakia)

Mrs. Sally Tuchklaper was born in Radom, Poland in 1919. The family consisted of her parents, Esther and Berek Birenbaum, two sisters and one brother.  Maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents also lived in Radom along with well over 100 other relatives.  Mrs. Tuchklaper describes her life in Radom as happy, with close ties to a very large family, in a community where Jews and Gentiles lived in harmony.  She recalls very little anti-Semitism.

When the Germans occupied Radom, Mrs. Tuchklaper recalls that the family members were frightened because they didn’t know what was going to happen to them.  She remembers the changes that began to take place.  Her father was not allowed to work, other men (and some women) were taken from their homes to do jobs for the Germans.  She recalls that some of the men came home at the end of the day while others never came home.  It was in this manner that her father was taken and she never saw him again.

Mrs. Tuchklaper volunteered for work sewing at a uniform factory in Radom.  She recalls being allowed to return home at the end of each day until the time the Germans established permanent barracks.  She describes her working conditions and indicates that at this point she was still allowed to return home each Sunday.  She describes additional changes that took place and she recalls that upon returning home one Sunday she learned that her mother had been taken.  She never saw her mother again.

After approximately two years working in the uniform factory, Mrs. Tuchklaper remembers being told to pack her things.  She recalls being taken to a train for transport to Blizin labor camp.  She describes the overcrowded conditions, lack of sanitary facilities, and illness.  She also describes the work she did in the camp, the living conditions, and the deaths that resulted from a typhus epidemic.

After a stay of approximately one and half years at Blizin, Mrs. Tuchklaper recalls being transported by train to the Auschwitz concentration camp.  She describes the overcrowded conditions on the train and recalls that many died during the trip.  Mrs. Tuchklaper describes the selection process at Auschwitz, how she felt when she saw the barbed wire, the work she was forced to do, the inhuman treatment of the guards and the lack of food.  She describes the beating she received during her first day at Auschwitz.  She also recalls that medical experiments were being done.

After a seven or eight month stay at Auschwitz, Mrs. Tuchklaper recalls that 300 girls were transported to a factory in Crazha, Czechoslovakia.  She worked in a gas mask factory and describes both the working and living conditions.  She recalls that the female guards treated the girls worse than any other guards had treated them before.

Mrs. Tuchklaper remembers that the girls knew something strange was happening when all materials in the factory were shipped out.  On the morning of May 8, 1945 she recalls that she woke up and noticed that the door was open and the guards were missing.  The factory workers were liberated by the Russian Army and Mrs. Tuchklaper describes her feelings at that time.

In 1948, Mrs. Tuchklaper traveled by boat from Munich, Germany to Montreal, Canada with her husband and daughter. Five years later the family moved to Detroit, Michigan.

Interview information:
Date: April 2, 1986
Interviewer: Anita Schwartz
Length: 46 minutes
Format: VHS