Time in the Camps 1942-1945

I was there.

Max continues to work in the ammunition factory. Sometimes he succeeds in organising some food for himself and his prison mates. One day Max and the others are deported not knowing where they are going. Eventually they arrive in Auschwitz-Birkenau. 

In Auschwitz Max works with other people and becomes pretty good at understanding how to behave in the different work groups. But once he is caught by the capo for having stolen bread, and he is severely beaten.

Max realises that if he is going to survive, he needs to get out of Auschwitz. One day he is forced on a death march to the concentration camp Mauthausen in Austria. The prisoners walk several miles at a time and only travel by train short distances.

From Mauthausen he is placed in the work camp Ebensee. At the camp he and the other prisoners have to work very hard and are not given enough nourishment. Max feels his strength running out and he is getting too weak to work. 

Max Safir (1925-2020), Poland

Max Safir (1925-2020), Poland


Life in the work camp

Max talks about the situation in the work camp in Starachowice.

1) Listen to Max as he talks about the situation in the Starachowice labour camp.

  • 1a. Max came up with several ways of improving his chances of survival. What was the most important thing that Max and his fellow prisoners kept trying to get extra of?

  • 1b. Even though Max was cunning, he eventually got caught. What happened to Max when he got caught?

To Auschwitz-Birkenau

Max talks about the deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau. 

2) Listen to Max as he talks about the deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau

  • 2a. At first, Max was reluctant to get tattooed in the camp but eventually he changed his mind even though it hurt. What made him change his mind?

My team of workers

Max talks about his time in the camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and how he found a way to survive for the moment.

3) Listen to Max as he talks about his time in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

  • 3a. In the camp Max got beaten by a block elder. What was the roll of the block elder?

To Austria

Max talks about how he eventually is forced on a death march. Finally, he ends up in the concentration camp Mauthausen.

4) Listen to Max as he talks about the death march and the deportation to the Mauthausen concentration camp.

  • 4a. Just before Max was forced on a "death march" towards Austria, he managed get hold of something that might have saved his life. What did he take with him before he left Auschwitz-Birkenau?

In the Ebensee work camp

Max talks about his time in the work camp Ebensee, a sub-camp to Mauthausen. Max is forced to work hard but hunger makes him weaker and weaker.

5) Listen to Max as he talks about his time in the Ebensee concentration camp.

  • 5a. As Max came to Ebensee, he had to make a difficult “choice” when someone wanted to exchange something with him. But was it a choice? Why did Max finally agree to the exchange?

The concentration camp Ebensee

Slideshow about the concentration camp Ebensee, a sub-camp to Mauthausen. In Ebensee the prisoners were used as forced labour and the living conditions were very hard.

6) Watch the presentation of the Ebensee concentration camp. Then answer the questions.

  • 6a. What was the main purpose of the Ebensee concentration camp?

Extra Material