Moshe Naftoli Tauber (Part I)

Can you tell me where you were born?

My name is Moshe Naftoli Tauber. I was born in 1927 in Serdahely, Czechoslovakia. Serdahely had a population of 11,000 people, of which 6,000 were Jewish.

What memories can you share with us about your family?

We were a family of 12 children; I was the tenth child. I had four brothers and seven sisters; eight of us survived the war. My oldest brother, Aharon, was in hiding together with three sisters in Budapest; one brother was taken to munkatabor; and two more sisters survived the camps.

My family was among the frummest in our town. My parents had a seltzer factory in addition to a trucking business. For the most part my father sat and learned and my mother took care of the financials. My father was always sickly and he passed away in 1941.

What kind of education did you receive?

We all attended cheder. For the girls there wasn’t any Bais Yaakov; they attended the local public school.

Did you feel any anti-Semitism prior to the onset of war in your town?

There were always anti-Semites. I grew up hearing the words, “Hitler will come!” My whole life I had dreams that I was trying to flee from the gentiles but my feet wouldn’t run.

Did you know what was happening in other parts of Europe at this time?

In 1944, when the deportation began, my oldest brother, Aharon, was in Slovakia. He tried to convince my mother to go to Budapest and get a false set of identification papers from the gentiles. But my mother did not believe [what was happening]. She spoke to the Rav of the town, Reb Asher Anshel Katz, and she told him that she felt that Aharon was a pessimist. Although we had heard what was going on all over Europe, we just couldn’t believe it.

When was your family directly affected?

Until 1944 it was extremely anti-Semitic. All licenses to own stores were revoked and given to the gentiles. In 1944 the Germans arrived in our town. Everyone was instructed to register with the Germans. A ghetto was formed in our town.

Can you tell us about the ghetto and deportation?

The ghetto started out as an enclosed area of two streets. After Shavuos of 1944 we were all instructed to gather in the shul. We remained there for seven days. We survived on a little food that was given to us by the Germans and some food that we had brought along with us when we left our home.

After the seven days, we marched to the railroad station where we were herded onto cattle cars. It is too difficult for me to describe the conditions in the wagon. We traveled for three days and arrived in Auschwitz on Motzoei Shabbos. We remained in these enclosed wagons until Sunday morning.

I want to give you an example of the cruelty [of] the Germans. There was a Judenrater whose job it was to make lists of the Jews in town. When the Germans came with cattle wagons to start the deportation, the guards would ride in the front and the Jews were stuffed into the back. The Judenrat in charge of our town was called to ride in the front seats as well, along with his two small children, his wife and his mother. When they arrived in Auschwitz he became a sonderkommando. He then had to watch as his wife and children were murdered. When the sonderkommando could no longer tolerate it, he threw himself into the fire, too.

What greeted you upon your arrival in Auschwitz?

Mengele was present. I was not particularly strong but I always tried to get in with the strong people. There were boys who tried to go along with their parents. While Mengele was chasing them and forcing them apart, I quickly snuck onto the right side. I wasn’t aware that there was a right and left side but I figured that the stronger and better people they would let live. This held true through all the selections.


 

These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.