Name of deponent: Israel Leib, known as Leon Gelberger,
also known as Vogelhut
Date of birth: November 13, 1909
Birth place: Brzesko
Current Residence: Kamiena Gora
Number in Oswiecim (Auschwitz) camp: 171958
The war found me in Wolbrom, where I lived until the liquidation
of the Jews in November 1942. From there, I was smuggled
to Sosnowiec, where it was relatively calm. I was in great
danger, however, because refugees from the General Gouvernement
were subject to deportation to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). Doctors
could legalize themselves on condition that they would come
voluntarily to neighboring labor camps.
I was sent to the camp at Breslau-Wenkirch, one of the most
heavily-worked camps, which I nevertheless survived. There,
Lf. Winter - ruffian, L. A. Kronenberg from Lodz will have
a bad report from the Jewish people. In the camp, he beat,
stole, spied on fellow prisoners and informed on them to
the authorities. Jews in this camp were from the area of
Poland which adjoined the Reich.
The work norm exceeded normal strength. It involved the
construction of railway tracks. The mortality rate was very
high. The “soup” was inedible so that 2 liters of soup were
exchanged for one small packet of margarine. There were
many diseases such as swelling, phlegm, diarrhea, frostbite.
Many people didn't have shoes and in freezing weather, they
walked barefoot. Some prisoners had rags tied to their feet.
I worked in the camp as a doctor in very difficult conditions.
Lf. set a certain maximum of ill people in the sick room.
The number of ill people couldn't exceed this certain set
number. Ill people who exceeded this number were thrown
from the sick room. They went half-alive to work from where
they were often taken as dead people.
It was forbidden to write letters. For attempted correspondence
the Germans sent people to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). For attempting
to escape, prisoners were punished by a beating of 25, 50
or even a 100 blows on naked backside. Almost no one survived
this beating. People died the same day or on the next day.
People tortured couldn't stay in the sick room and others
took them half living to work and often there were accidents
such that they died on the way. In some cases for attempting
to escape people were shot.
There was terrible scenes of the people dragged along to
work and prisoners unconscious because of beating who were
taken by other prisoners much like porters carried things.
If prisoners from the same room from which some one escaped
didn't report within 10 minutes this escape, all the prisoners
from that room were punished. It was not officially a death
camp, but a labor camp, but death was everywhere there.
Every few days there were selections in the hospital and
from there were sent transports of sick people to Oswiecim
(Auschwitz). From 300 prisoners who were in the camp at
one time, 100 persons were sent to the crematorium. The
highest mortality rate was among the Western Jews, especially
among those from Holland. The civilian (German) population
acted scandalously. Foremen tortured prisoners who returned
to the camp beaten. Many were injured with broken bones.
After 6 months I returned to Sosnowiec. There I found the
ghetto to have been closed. There occurred Aktions sometimes.
Merin, president of the Centrale of the Judenrät with
headquarter in Sosnowiec, was liked by most of the Jewish
population. The Jews believed that, with his help, they
could survive the war. Because of repeated Aktions the Jews
built hideouts so skillfully constructed that the Germans,
even knowing that in a house was a bunker, searched for
it sometimes five hours and didn't find it. Because there
was fear that there might be a surprise Aktion, there were
before each building a so-called "guard" who gave
a sign quickly when Germans were close, so That, when in
one action there was a goal of transporting set of 5,000
people, the Germans didn't find even 2,000.
In August 1943 the ghetto was surrounded by a strong cordon
of police. I was announced that Sosnowiec was now to be
“Judenfrei". If those hidden in bunkers would appear
voluntarily, they would be sent to labor camps. Otherwise,
all those captured would be shot. This trick was successful.
Almost all people appeared from their hideouts. All were
sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). There were left in the ghetto
a group of Jews for liquidation of the ghetto. A “Lager”
(camp) was set up for these persons.. There was Doctor's
Kommando whose task it was to liquidate the hospital and
collect the drugs and medical devices found there. We loaded
30-plus cars in a short period of time.
In this liquidation "Lager" (camp) were about
450 Jews. From time to time there took place deportation
Aktions which sent persons to their deaths. At this time
Jews tried to get American papers. They believed that American
citizens went to so called: "I-Lag" (Internierungslager).
Indeed there were some such transports. But those persons
who left on them were not heard from again. One day during
the making-up of one such transport, Merin and his assistants
Franya Czarna and Chaim Merin the President of the Centrale
Judenrat in Sosnowiec, Dr. Lowenstein and Dr. Borenstein,
former president of the "Joint” (Distribution Committee
in Warsaw were called to report to the police station. None
of those persons were seen again. Later in Oswiecim (Auschwitz)
I received information from persons working in a Sonderkommando
that those individuals went, without selection, to the gas
After the deportation Aktion during which the Germans shot
Jews on the streets, the bodies were buried in mass graves
on the site of the ghetto. After several months, chief of
the Gestapo (Hans) Dreier ordered an exhumation of the bodies
.Some trucks came from Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and the bodies
were taken to the crematorium in Oswiecim (Auschwitz). At
that time, I lived in the "Liquidation Lager"
(camp) with my wife and daughter.
On January 13, 1944 the Liquidation Lagers in Sosnowiec
and Bedzin were ended and we were sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz).
In Birkenau, there was a selection at the railway station
in Birkenau. There were selected old people, exhausted menand
women and mothers with children. My wife and daughter went
to their deaths from there.
In Birkenau I went through different events. I worked some
time as normal laborer and later as a doctor. In January
1944, there was the biggest selection in Birkenau. "Blocksperre"
(Closed barrack) Commissions went to each barracks and performed
selections. Naked prisoners had to walk in front of the
Commission. There went to their deaths not only ill people,
exhausted and old people, but often young persons with athletic
physiques. The Germans selected the victims for death in
an indifferent manner, often by the wave of a finger.
Some sick Jews were taken to sick room and treated. Each
sick person had to have a detailed card of his disease,
laboratory examination, observation, operations and treatment.
A sick person sometimes got a roll to eat, often received
white bread and a diet of soup. It sometimes happened that
ill persons were months in the hospital and later as a convalescent
went to so called "Schonungsblok" (recovery barrack),
where they didn't have to work.
If at this time, there was a selection such a convalescent
who was treated so long time in hospital went undisputedly
to his death. Doctors had to conduct very carefully each
case history and if it there were a diagnosis in which the
sick person should receive a proper drug, then the doctor
had to note this in the case history even if the sick person
would never get the drug. Often it happened that sick person
rotted in terrible conditions on a bare bunk, lying in his
own excrement, beset with lice, dying from hunger, but his
case history had to be written and conducted just like in
the best model clinic.
Twice a week the blood and urine had to be examined, the
patient was weighed, and so on. This was the system of Dr.
Tilo. The treachery of this "Lagerarzt" (Camp
Doctor) reached such a degree that he sent doctors to the
Punishment Kommando for not making a complicated laboratory
examination which examination didn't matter at all for the
treatment. In this manner I got myself sent to the Punishment
Kommando called "Königsgraben", as a person
acting to the detriment of sick Häftlinge (prisoners).
Doctor Senkleber was hardly beating ill people and doctors
using vulgar abuses to them. Doctors had to clean floors,
to bring water, to sweep, clean latrines, bring buckets
of coffee and soup from the second "Lager" (camp),
a distance of about 1 km, they had to chop wood, to unload
coal. All this they had to do in addition to medical work.
People very exhausted and sick with diarrhea were driven
to Block #12 in "Lager" F, where they were left
without treatment or care. There, they merely waited for
death or for the next selection.