Max Rodriguez Garcia was born in Amsterdam in 1924. He emigrated to the United States in 1948, only after being liberated from a concentration camp in Germany after World War II. During this segment, he talks with Ben Kieffer.
“My whole family was gassed,” he recalls. “I wound up at the main building, Auschwitz I.
“When we came off the train, it was 4:30 in the morning. All of a sudden all the doors for all the cars were opened, and the lights were turned on and it was all of a sudden confusion. The dogs were barking. Prisoners who were already in Auschwitz tried to talk to us. It was total confusion. Then we were set up. The men were on one side of the tracks and the women were on the other side of the tracks. And then we were selected to either stay alive or be sent to the gas chamber, but we didn’t know it at the time.
Slowly but surely, we began to realize that we were prisoners and that we were in a concentration camp. And that we were lucky to be alive.”
While Garcia was a prisoner at Auschwitz I, he was experimented on medically. His appendix was about to burst, and the doctors decided to operate on him.
“The German doctor asked later, ‘is he alive?’ and my doctor said yes. Then my doctor asked why, and he said ‘professional curiosity. When I was in school, we had excellent pictures, but they were all in black, white or gray. This way I got to see the color inside the body.”’
Garcia later received $3,500 as a settlement for being experimented on. He says his advice for young people today is to help yourself.
“You can help your own destiny by persevering. If you’re a pessimist now at this age, you’re not going to live long. If you’re an optimist, the how future is yours. Make the most of it. And then there is tolerance.”