We went begging from house to house to get some food to eat. In the first house, the woman was sympathetic. She told us that her husband, a clergyman, was arrested too. At the second house we came upon American soldiers. The woman of this house had two daughters. Not realizing that we understood what she was saying, one of the girls said to her mother, “Look at these imfarsheimta — they have no pride or dignity, they have to beg for food.” That day I ate seven dinners. Unfortunately, many other people died from overeating. At another house where we looked for food, from high up I suddenly noticed a big butcher knife being hurled at me, and dodged. Although they gave us food, the hatred was still there. We immediately ran away.
We continued on until we reached the DP camp in Feldafing. The American doctors there treated us very nicely; we received clean clothing and clean bedding. This is where Eisenhower came to meet the Klausenburger Rebbe.
That year Shavuos was Thursday and Friday. I recall the Klausenburger Rebbe davening there, albeit without any siddurim or machzorim. I was able to secure an egg for the Rebbe to make an eruv tavshilin. I had a rebbi in the town of Kolter, Reb Mordcha Lebovitz; he lost 11 children at the hands of the Nazis. Prior to the war he insisted that we learn Akdamus, Brich Shmei and Bameh Madlikin by heart. On that day my friend from yeshivah and I wrote all of the Akdamus on a piece of paper and I had the zechus that the Klausenburger Rebbe leined the Akdamus from my handwriting.
Did you return to your hometown?
We were in Feldafing for about two weeks when they announced that transportation was being provided for whoever wanted to return to their country. I was very anxious to find my family. They transported us in open trucks. Being that the trucks were open, the wind irritated our eyes and it was very painful. It took a few days for the swelling and redness to clear up. After traveling a few days we arrived in the town of Pilsin in Czechoslovakia. From there we were on our own. From Pilsin we traveled to the next town, where we came upon a river whose bridge had been bombed out. We had to use wooden boards to cross the river.
I arrived back in our town late at night. I was afraid to go back to my house; I wasn’t aware that my father had been liberated from munkatabor long before me and he had returned home. I found the empty house of Reb Yaakov Herzog — a very chashuve Yid — to sleep in overnight. Someone had spotted me when I arrived in town and when I came close to the shul in the morning he ran ahead and informed my father of my return. My father already knew that my mother and siblings were all gone. I had sent him one postcard from Auschwitz but that was the last time he heard from me. He did not know that I was alive.
I paraded around with a Russian uniform trying to earn a little money by bringing cigarettes to Czechoslovakia and sugar to Hungary. I traveled the trains for free.
to be continued…
These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.