Avigdor (Victor) Louis (Part II)

For how long did you remain in the ghettos?

In 1943, they decided to clear out the ghettos. Transport trains were brought in, and I was taken together with my parents, brother and sister. We were locked inside the train; the plan was to take us to Boszetz. When I heard this, I decided I had to escape. When I told my father of my plan, he agreed, since the situation was horrific. People were dying in droves. There was no food to be gotten, not even a drink of water!

There was a tiny window with bars across it. I held onto the bars and used whatever strength I had to try and move the bars. Eventually I forced them down. I jumped out through this tiny hole. My brother jumped out after me and a little boy, 11 years old, jumped out after him. My sister did not follow. She decided to stay behind and take care of my parents.

Once you had escaped the transport, where did you go?

After I jumped from the train, I headed back to the ghetto. My brother and I snuck back in. There was a whole new group of people already there. People from smaller towns were brought to the big ghetto in Cracow. Some people had been taken by transports, like my family, while others were taken to the forests and murdered there. The main idea was to extinguish as many Jewish lives as possible. In 1944 I was taken for the second time from Cracow to Płaszów and then to the ghetto in Baranovitch.

Were you taken to the concentration camps?

From Baranovitch we were taken to a concentration camp right near Cracow. My brother was taken before me to a camp in Germany, and I was taken to Schindler’s camp. I was the only person in my family who was part of this camp.

In October of 1944, 1,000 people were assigned to Schindler’s camp. Schindler was considered an important person and had a lot of power and clout. The treatment in Schindler’s camp was nothing like what Jews suffered in other camps. We were treated very well. Schindler’s camp was the best place to be during the war. We had plenty of food to eat and clothing to wear. There were German guards standing around to make sure that nobody entered or left. We worked in a factory, but the SS soldiers were not allowed in.

When did you realize you would be liberated?

On May 9, 1945, a Russian soldier arrived on a horse and notified us that we were going to be liberated the following day.

Were you reunited with your brother?

I heard that my younger brother was in Austria, so I headed back there after the war. When I arrived I was told that my brother had died a day after liberation.

My second brother came along with me. He was very sick at the time and was put into a hospital in Austria called Abenzei, until he recuperated.

Did you return home after the war?

I went back to Cracow, but there was nothing for me there. The house I lived in still stood, but was occupied by gentiles.

I have revisited Cracow three times since then with my daughter and son. I knew the people living in my house. The woman was my age, and we had been friendly before the war.

 


These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.