Plaszów

Plaszów is the outskirts of Krakow. And there was a big, big place where they were mending military uniforms – you know what was torn apart in the front. So all these people were doing sewing like I was. So I don’t know for how…And this Plaszów was a bit like, not normal but freedom, because the Polish were there, and they were selling coffee. ‘Kaffe goronza! Kaffe goronza!’ – That was all. But I don’t know how… we didn’t have Polish money. I just can’t recall all this but this is so clear that we mended all the German uniforms from the front what were torn and then there was some sort of food given out. There was a kitchen.

...the place was surrounded and that surrounded place had a big hole, like you know, for paddling. And there we felt always smell of body burning. And those bodies were killed by the Germans because they were spies, so called. They are Polish Christian, they are resistance, and we knew somehow that those are bodies smell…smell of bodies.

And they locked us up in a bunker and from there we were going on the hill next day to be shot. And we were five women brought in. So the Kapos learned about it, that we were brought in on that day, and they knew that I was a concert pianist. And they knew that Amon Göth [Plaszów commandant], this murderer, which is from where Schindler took and had with him the whole business to let the people go, that he loved music. So the Kapo came to him and said, ‘Fünf Frauen eingeliefert’ [Five women delivered] ‘Von draussen’, from outside, brought in. He said, ‘Was sind sie?’ [What are they?] ‘Eine ist Klaviervirtuosin.’ [One is a professional pianist (virtuoso)] ‘Ach, na, sie soll heute abend zu meiner Geburtstagsparty kommen und spielen’- ‘She should come tonight to my birthday party and play’. So they took me out to the hairdresser to have my hair done and I had still my clothes on, because in the ghetto I could wear my clothes… and I was terribly frightened. First of all, I hadn’t played for so many years. It was the 9th of December ‘43. Why do I remember the date? Because all the people in the camps afterwards, and the Kapos, used to laugh. They said, ‘She was born again on the 9th of December ‘43’. Because, after I played-. When I came there, there were all the officers in white, and Amon Göth in a white jacket with all his medals here, and then his big dogs, which he called ‘Mensch’, and us he called dog, ‘Hund’, and I was so frightened, but the fright made me play. And I played Chopin’s Posthumous Nocturne. And first he said to me ‘Du’, ‘Du, Sarah’ [Yes yes Sarah]. But, when I played the Nocturne, and before - he had his mistress, he had a mistress, if you remember from the film or from the book - and she said, ‘Sei doch nett zu ihr’ [Be nice to her!]. So, when I played the Nocturne, he said, ‘Das Sie spielen können, gestehe ich zu. Sie soll leben’ [I must admit that you can play the piano. She may live]. And I did not remember that I said, ‘Nicht ohne meine Schwester’ [Not without my sister.]. But, about ten years ago, I was in Switzerland, in Zurzach, it’s a spa, and we were going with my friend, who lives here, already back to England, and she said, ‘I’m going, still before the taxi comes, I’m going for a walk’. And she came after twenty minutes and she said, ‘You know there were two women sitting on a bench. And I started talking to them, and I told them with whom we are here’. And they said to her, ‘Oh, we know her, we were in Plaszów in the same camp’ - two women from Israel in Switzerland - ‘Oh, we know her, we were in the same camp as she was. And when Amon Göth said to her, ‘Sie soll leben’ [She may live], she said, ‘Nicht ohne meine Schwester’ [Not without my sister.].’ That’s how I learnt about it. And then he said to me, ‘Und jetzt gehen Sie in die Küche. Meine jüdische Köchin wird Ihnen zum Essen geben’ [And don’t go into the kitchen. My Jewish cook will give you food]. So I went, and she packed another lot for my sister that I took with me, because we didn’t eat the whole day. Anyhow, that was - ‘Sie sind frei. Frei ins Lager zu gehen’ [You are free. Free to go into the camp - freedom] - that was the ‘Freiheit’ [freedom]. And, of course, on a bunk somewhere, ah, many times, midnight, twelve, at midnight: ‘Natalia Hubler hier?’ Hubler was my first name. ‘Ja’. ‘Der Kommandant will Sie heran wieder’, um 12 Uhr nachts [The Commandant wants to see you again at 12 midnight]. I had to dress and go there again. And who was there? Brothers Rosener, they were very famous, the two, in this film they showed that the Roseners played, one played the violin, the other one played the accordion. Yes. And they were playing, and I never played light - I could play light music but I had to improvise. They were playing Brahms, Hungarian Dances and all that, and I improvised with them. That’s how it happened. And that’s what it is, and from there we wanted to escape again, in Plaszów.

 
 

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