Christine Berger-Wagner
Ratuj mnie, reši me! (Save me)
"Because we stuck together so much, it somehow became easier.“

And when I came to Ravensbrück, the illegal camp administration had decided that us eight from Leoben had to get out of Ravensbrück. After all, we had come with the letter „Return undesirable“, so we wouldn’t be sentenced to death. Two weeks after that, Mum came to the camp. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have left, because somehow... Also, I immediately had connections when I came to the camp. We were put into a large tent – admittance camp – and they pushed us all in there. And I – I was always bold – opened the tent door, and there in front of me was a woman from Leoben who had been imprisoned for four years already. And I called to her: „Anni, it’s you!“ She said: „Come here, I need to talk to you.“ She got me out of the tent at once, and I saw then that they wheeled bodies to the crematorium in a wheelbarrow. That was the first impression of the camp.

Through Anni, I came into contact with block three. That was where the important people were, Jochmann, Bertl Lauscher, Mela Ernst. I don’t remember all the names. But Bertl saw to it that we got out of the camp, and we got clothed, and strangely I got dressed completely in black: a black dress, black jacket, black headscarf. All others got friendly stuff, and I was dressed all in black. A bag was thrown to you, and that was what you had to wear. A cross in front, a cross in the back, a white one. So I put that on. Then an elder comrade was there – the contact woman from Eisenerz – and she had a coloured t-shirt, and told me: „Listen, you’ll give me your black scarf, I am an old woman anyway, and you take the colourful one so you look a little friendlier.“ And the dess was open work, so I threaded the colourful scarf through, so it didn’t look so dead any more. But it was as though it had been a premonition that I’d need black clothes. Somehow, I already had a bad feeling at the time.

And because we stuck together so much, it somehow became easier, and we were young, too. That plays a huge role, some of the older ones weren’t able to stand it. How my Mummy really perished, I don’t really know. Some say she froze to death. She fell over during roll call, and nobody was allowed to pick her up. And that was how it was, when someone keeled over – and winters were a lot harsher then – nobody was allowed to pick her up. And another one says – a Ravensbrück woman I got along with especially well, she was there when my mummy died – and she says she died in sick quarters. Well, I hope that’s true. You can’t change it anyway. And I never asked about Father, how he died, because the thing about Mummy was enough for me. I never... There was one man, he came back from Flossenbürg and said he had taken my father’s coat after he died, because he’d said: „Listen, if I don’t wake up or don’t regain conciousness, you take my coat.“. But I was never able to ask how he died, or whether he was sick. I just didn’t have the heart to do it. Still don’t have it..

From: Ratuj mnie, reši me! (Rette mich), Österreichische Überlebende des Frauen-Konzentrationslagers Ravensbrück, 65 min.
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