In Different Camps 1944-1945

I was there.

Upon arrival in the camp, only a teenager at that time, Vasile was separated from his parents. His mother was sent directly to the gas chambers, while his father was sent to work, but died a little before the liberation, so they never met again. He and his brother remained at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The most dramatic period of his life was when Sanyi, his younger brother, was selected for gas chambers, and so he remained alone. After the death of his brother he was sent to work in labour camps.

Vasile Nussbaum (1929), Romania/Hungary

Vasile Nussbaum (1929), Romania/Hungary

Consider here the life of Vasile in the concentration camp

Arrival at Auschwitz and Separation from Parents

After arriving in Auschwitz, Vasile is separated from his parents. He remains in the camp with his younger brother Sanyi.

1) Listen to Vasile as he talks about his arrival in Auschwitz and separation from parents. Answer the questions.

  • 1a. What information did you have about Auschwitz before listening to Vasile's testimony?

  • 1b. How do you think Vasile has experienced separation from parents when he was 15 years old?

  • 1c. What is the strongest impression that Vasile's story about the arrival in the camp and separation from parents has left to you?

The Loss of My Brother

Following the selection of Dr. Mengele, Sanyi is sent to the gas chambers. Vasile tries to save him by sending a camp comrade in his place, but he changes his mind at the last moment.

2) Listen to Vasile as he talks about losing his brother in the concentration camp. Answer the questions.

  • 2a. After listening to Vasile’s story, what do you think “selection” meant in Auschwitz?

  • 2b. What do you think made Vasile change his mind and chose not to sacrifice his camp companion's life in order to save his brother? Discuss this with your colleagues.

  • 2c. Can you think of something or someone you would risk your life for?

Transfer to a Labour Camp

After Sanyi's death, Vasile is sent to a labour camp at a plant for aircraft construction. Here, he meets a German prisoner who helps him survive.

3) Listen to Vasile as he talks about his transfer to a labour camp. Answer the questions.

  • 3a. What are the differences between the extermination camp and the labour camp?

  • 3b. What does the roll call meant in the camp? Choose the right answer from the list!

– the prisoners were lined up to be counted
– to call the camp commander
– a message sent by one prisoner to another
– an order given by one soldier to a prisoner

  • 3c. What role did Hermann Otto had in the camp, the prisoner that Vasile said he saved his life?

  • 3d. What does it mean to be a human being? Answer the question by analyzing the attitude of the German prisoner described by Vasile (no more than 150 words).


Next Section
Liberated 1945

Extra Material