Protocol Nr. 123
The person in question has given us the following information There were about 4,000 Jewish families living in Munkács; they were tradesmen and craftsmen. They lived in favourable conditions. My parents had a furniture and stool factory; we lived in very good financial circumstances, we had two houses. I am the only child of my parents. As early as the third day after 19th March 1944, we were no longer allowed to stay outdoors later than 6 o’clock in the evening. First we had to wear a large yellow patch, then from 5th April the yellow star. We had to put a yellow star on Jewish shops and we had to write on them “Jewish shop”. After 7th April they surveyed the factories to see where the Jews could be moved. The decree was issued by the police superintendent called Márk. The Jews living in the neighbouring villages were being moved in there for two weeks. 80,000 Jews were put in one of the ghettos and about 15,000 in the other one in the brickyard. There was also a third ghetto in the city, which comprised about 7 streets; the Jews of the city itself lived in the ghetto of the city. Bills appeared and it was also announced that the Jews should move to certain streets that were marked out. We were given 10 hours to do that; the moving had to be finished by 6 o’clock in the evening. That happened around the 29th of April. It happened that the gendarmes entered the synagogue on a Saturday, and they robbed the liturgical objects. But they also did the following sometimes when the men were going home after the evening prayer: Gestapo officials watched them and gave them a sound beating. A tailor called Hönig hid himself in the cupboard when he was chased, and when they found him they shot him dead for it. The members of the Jewish Council were: Reismann, Kalisch, Bródy, Segelstein, and my father. As far as I know, people were generally satisfied with their work. The city ghetto where we lived was marked out on 29th April; the other two had been created three weeks earlier. People generally said that we would not be taken out of the country, but we would go to work on the Hortobágy. Gendarmes and detectives searched our houses every day. At those occasions they went into the houses one after the other and looked for valuables. We were only allowed to take with us food, clothes and bedclothes to the ghetto. The ghetto was enclosed; gendarmes and policemen guarded it outside, while inside it was Jewish policemen who maintained order. There were about 14,000 Jews living in the city ghetto. The Jews of the neighbouring villages were collected in the ghetto of the brickyard together with politically unreliable people; communists and those who had been interned or who were of Polish origin were also taken there. A soup kitchen was set up for the poor, but generally everybody used his or her own food that they had brought with them. It often happened that the Germans came by car at night, they entered the ghetto are and they took away whatever they found there. Men were not taken to work outside the ghetto and the detectives who sometimes appeared there encouraged us saying that we would not be harmed; we would only be taken out to work. Of course we believed that willingly. Many people attempted to escape: they got hold of forged call-up orders and thus they managed to escape from the ghetto. I know about one successful attempt to escape; it is the case of Samuel Roth. We were still in the ghetto when we read it in the papers that the Jews had been removed from Ungvár, so we also prepared for that sad act: we packed up our most necessary belongings and we held ourselves in constant readiness. One day we learned that the ghetto in Sajovits brickyard had already set off. Early in the morning, at 6 o’clock on 17th May, the border guards broke the gates of the ghetto, they came in and gave us 5 minutes to start. From 6 o’clock to half past seven there were 14,000 people lined up at the market place. We knew that we would be taken to the ghetto of the brickyard. The old and ill people who could not go quickly enough were beaten. We noticed that at some places Christian people were watching our sad march with malicious joy from their windows. It was troublesome to march 2 kilometres with our heavy baggage. We could take with us two sets of clothes, underwear, enough food for ten days and blankets. The procession was escorted by gendarmes and policemen; every five rows had a policeman responsible for it. People suffered a lot in the ghetto. A German commander called Sefcsik behaved in a very rough manner. We went away with the fourth transport. We were entrained on a Tuesday evening, on 24th May. First they announced that all the rabbis and cantors should register. To make as many of them as possible register, they gave them bread and butter; then they threw them into a dark chamber and kept them there for the whole night. Three of them were beaten to death, among others a man called Salzer; but apart from him there were about another forty men beaten very cruelly. As far as I know in Auschwitz they were taken directly to the crematorium. The cattle cars were ready at the brickyard. 80-100 people were put into one; our cattle car swallowed 81 people. We could take into the cattle car a bucket of water and another bucket to serve as a toilet. The train started towards Kassa. Before getting on the train the women were undressed, everybody was searched and our money and jewels were taken away; only 30 pengős were left on each person. We were told that the cattle cars would be opened at Kassa and from there we would be taken to work. Hungarian gendarmes escorted us to Kassa, where the train was taken over by SS men. We got water there too. Nobody died in our cattle car, but as far as I know about 15 people died on the two- day-long journey. My cousin told me that they were taking us to Auschwitz; he was of Slovak origin and he knew those things. As far as I know, a boy wanted to escape from the cattle car, but what happened to him I do not know. The train arrived in Auschwitz at 6 o’clock in the morning on 26th May. SS men and Polish prisoners received us. They chased us off the train with sticks in their hands. We left the baggage up in the cattle cars. They separated women from men, and women were also selected. Following the advice of a Polish man my mother, who was only 43 years old, lied that she was 50, so she was put on the left side among the old and ill people. I have not seen her ever since. I was taken to Camp C, which was a real extermination camp. That camp was still quite empty at that time. Before being selected they took us to the bath, but they had stripped us naked beforehand and cut our hair, they had taken away our clothes and instead of those they had given us something like clothes. Ten of us slept on a bunk, but later the number of people reached 14-15. We did not get anything to eat on the first three days. Later our daily ration of bread was 250 grams, with a thin slice of margarine. The daily ration of soup was half a litre, but it was inedible. They made the soup from some kind of grass. Later the provisions became a little better. The worst torture of the day was the Appell. They woke us up at dawn and regardless of the weather they made us stand in rain, in snow, or in hot weather for hours. We were standing on the side of even numbers, the men on that of the odd numbers. Once I managed to see my father for a second while lining up, and he sent me a little bread. I could meet him once again before they took him away. Our camp being an extermination camp, we did not work. All our work was to line up for roll call, we did that even from 4 to7 in the afternoon. I stayed in Auschwitz for five and a half months. Selections were often made during that time, in the last period even twice a day. They declared it quite openly in the block that the selected people would be taken to the crematorium, but some people did not believe it because they thought that the flames of the crematorium showed that rubbish was being burnt there. I know about a lot of suicides; these miserable people only touched the electric fence that enclosed the camp and died. After a selection during which I was put among the strong and able-bodied people, they put me on a train on 8th October. We got some bread, margarine and sausage for the journey. 60 women were put in a cattle car, apart from that we travelled in quite acceptable circumstances. At the end of a two-day-long journey we arrived at the camp in Hertine-Tepplitzschönau. It was as if we had arrived in heaven: central heating, boiled potatoes and coffee awaited us. Two women slept in one bed that night, but later we slept alone. That was incomprehensible for us. The overseer women were so nice that later they were dismissed and replaced by others. We worked in the bomb factory there. My position at work was rather lucky; the overseer liked me since I spoke German, so I soon became a supervisor. My task was not difficult but highly responsible. On 23rd April, the Russians were approaching, so the overseers escaped. It was on a Friday that we were waiting for the bell to call to work but it did not come, instead of this the Lagerältestes cried that we should quickly put on civilian clothes. That is, we worked wearing men’s clothes. We had to submit those clothes we had received from the factory. We lined up and the Lagerführer told us not to be afraid, she would come with us. Switzerland would take us over. Of course, we only laughed at it, we did not believe it. They gave us food enough for 5 days and they even warned us to handle the food sparingly. We took with us one and a half of a loaf of bread, 250 grams of sausage and 250 grams of margarine for the journey. 40 people were put in a cattle car. We were travelling till 10 o’clock in the evening, when we arrived in Leitmeritz. They took us to a camp for the night and in the morning we set forth to Theresienstadt, which lay 8 kilometres away from there. There the ghetto headquarters took us over. The Russians liberated us on 8th May. I stayed there till 10th June and came home through Prague, but not with a transport. Due to the Czech people I spent 20 unforgettable days in Prague.