Can you tell us about liberation?
A few days later I spotted some people near the kitchen and I went to investigate what they were doing. When I came closer, I saw an army tank with English soldiers. Upon inquiring, I was told that they had come to liberate us. I was in shock. After speaking with them they told me that by the time morning would arrive we would be free.
Together with a small group of people we entered the kitchen, hoping to find some morsels of food, but the kitchen was bare of everything but a big barrel of sauerkraut. When we were finally able to pry open the lid of the barrel, I filled a small box with sauerkraut and took it to my father; we both ate it.
We felt we were free so we left the barrack in search of my brother. We couldn’t find anyone. We tried to escape the camp but the English soldiers didn’t allow us to leave for fear that we would spread disease to the rest of Germany. The English served us soup but many could not handle this thick fatty soup and they died. I got terrible diarrhea which lasted a long time.
Suddenly my father contracted typhus. In 1943, when we were still home, a man in the town had this disease and the whole town was vaccinated. However, my father did not want to take the vaccination. After suffering through all the camps, my father died of typhus exactly three weeks after liberation. The whole time we were together, we were hoping to survive and go together to Eretz Yisrael, but my father did not make it.
In the morning I went out of the barracks. I saw four Germans holding a very large blanket on which they carried out the dead bodies. I directed them to my father so they would take out his body and I watched as he was buried in a pit.
I returned to find that the barracks had been burned down to the ground. After this I did not know how to continue. A man standing nearby tried to console me and directed me to walk one kilometer towards a Czech pavilion where I would find water to wash up. With no better option I followed his instructions. Upon arriving there, a young man around my age came forward and informed me that being that I was not of Czech nationality I could not enter. I argued with him a little and he allowed me to enter. I washed up and was disinfected. I got dressed again in fresh prison clothing. After I was cleaned up they sent me walking about three kilometers where I would find a large crowd of people.
I walked until I spotted a horse’s stable, where I lay down to rest a little. Since I was so hungry, my nap was very short and I got up to search for food. I continued on until I arrived at what seemed to be an agricultural school. Here the Germans taught how to raise animals.
There was a Jewish man sitting there and I said to him, “Du ken mir davenin — Here we can daven” — because it was clean. The man was appalled that I was speaking of davening. He said he hadn’t heard that word in five years. I said to him, “I am coming from Bergen-Belsen where one could not daven because it was not clean.” He was not interested in davening.
I was able to create a small fire and boil some water to sterilize it for drinking. I returned to the stable to find it occupied by three boys. They were all sick. I gave them some of the water I had sterilized to drink before we all fell asleep.
When we awoke in the morning there was an ambulance at the door belonging to the English, with orders to take all sick people to the hospital. We didn’t argue but went along. There were many other prisoners including young boys who were barely living. Many of them had very high fever, became delirious and died.
to be continued…
These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.