Protocol Nr. 1533

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Name: N. J.
Gender: female
Place of birth: Oroszvég
Date of birth: 1903
Place of residence: Munkács
Occupation: merchant
Ghetto: Munkács
Camps: Auschwitz, Stutthof, Branau

The person in question has given us the following information: I had a sugar shop at home and my brothers and sisters and me lived on its profit very decently. In April 1944, around Easter, on a Wednesday, gendarmes chased me out of my bed (by chance there was a policeman I knew), and they gave me only a few minutes to dress up. We crossed the garden where policemen were already waiting for us and beat us. The husband of a relative of mine was a war invalid and asked them not to be hit but the policeman ignored him, he did not care about the fact that he was handicapped. On the way you could see bleeding people all around. A relative of ours (Weisz) had a paralysed 15-year-old daughter in wheelchair. He wanted to go with his child but was not allowed: he was shot to death on the spot. Little children ran behind adults half dressed, in pyjamas and barefoot since they gave no time to get them dressed. This happened when we were chased into the ghetto. There was an ethnic German soldier called Sefcsik in the brick factory who beat everybody who fell into his hands. He went on bullying a rabbi and his son-in-low, and to make them ridiculous he put a big horn of a gramophone on their heads and they had to march like this in the street shouting, singing and clapping while he was also beating them. Almost all men had swollen eyes and foreheads as they had to do “sport” for hours. There was a marsh close to the ghetto, which we used for washing since there was no other opportunity. If by chance you were passing the puddle when Sefcsik was coming that way, you had bad luck as Sefcsik would grab you and would push you a few times into the puddle. If we wanted to go to the soup kitchen for lunch and someone uttered Sefcsik’ name or we suspected that he was coming we ran away in panic immediately not to bump into him. The people of Munkács will remember the so-called "black Saturday" for long. That day Jewish men and boys were rounded up and taken into the Jewish temple where they had to smash to pieces the pews and other equipments using only their hands without any tools while they had to shout Jewish prayers. There were several corpses lying in the court of the temple. Their heads were so crushed that they were unrecognisable. 15-18-year-old boys had to carry them away. Two sons of my elder sister were also among them; they carried the body of a tailor of Munkács. The rain was pouring all the day while they were preparing the fence of the ghetto. When they finished it the SS threw the boys into the river Latorca, luckily, they swam out. The members of the Jewish Council were Mandel, Áron, etc. who were also beaten a lot, for example, when they could not collect a payoff quickly enough. We left with the third transport, which was accidentally not searched before departure. However, they had searched for valuables in the brick factory day by day. At the beginning they were interested only in gold but later – first Hungarians then Germans – grabbed all valuables: leather bags, leather belts, pocket knives, etc. They crammed 85 people into a car and gave us water and a bucket for the toilet at departure. No one died in our freight car but an employee of the religious community called Grünfeld in the next car died of the wounds he had received being beaten up in the ghetto. Rabbis and employees of the religious community had been sent back to Munkács from the brick factory, and carried back from town again into the factory after deadly tortures and that was how they entrained them. Military gendarmes escorted the train till Kassa where Germans took charge of us. They told us that we were heading for Hortobágy to do some work together with our families. We cherished some hopes till Sátoraljaújhely but later we realised what the truth was. We arrived in Auschwitz after three days of travelling. Polish prisoners in striped clothes took our luggage and promised us to send them to our place later. We had to line up five in a row, men and women separately. They sent my elder sister Engel with her two daughters to the right side and in few seconds they were out of sight. When we arrived I saw the big chimneys emitting smoke. On my request I was told that they were burning dirty clothes. They took us into the baths, cut our hair off, gave us new clothes, and disinfected us. SS-men were walking around in the hall with huge dogs. It was scaring. When they took us into the disinfecting room we believed we were going to be gassed. We were cold in a single piece of cloth without underwear. We ended up in Camp C, 110 of us in a block, and fourteen on a berth; we lay on one another like sardines. You were not allowed to climb off the bed, if you did, you would get a beating; you were not allowed to use the toilet, and we could not wash ourselves for 5 days and everyone had rashes on the mouth because of thirst. Rations were made up of smelly turnip soup, ca. 300 grams of bread, and margarine. During all my stay in Auschwitz I could not eat the soup. They woke us up at 3:30 am when stars were still shining. We stood 4-5 hours on the Appellplatz. At dawn we were cold, later the sun burnt our baldheads, and everyone felt dizzy in the heat. You were not allowed to wash the person who fainted; you had to leave her like that. Afterwards, rain started pouring more than once, and we got soaked while they kept counting us. If the number they counted was not right as a punishment we had to stay on the knees in dust, on crocks and stones. My skin on the knees was peeling for weeks because of kneeling for hours. My niece had to line up for roll call with a fever of 40 C degrees. We did not dare to report that she was sick but held her from both sides so that she did not collapse during roll call. Once, someone went mad, and suicide attempts were frequent, too. One night they brought in a woman who had run into the wires but was saved. She also went mad. We stayed here for 5 weeks. At the end Dr Mengele came almost every day, and I learnt only later what significance it had. During Appell SS women came to select people. For example they selected dressmakers, or those who were slimmer and paler than the others. When they came we all tried to pinch our cheeks red to look well. Five weeks later, they selected me and transported us in Stutthof. We travelled for two days. Before entrainment and disinfection we had to undress already in the street and walk in front of officers and doctors. If someone was thin or fat with big breasts they singled her out and took her away. It was dark in the disinfecting building. We were very frightened. When we came out it was already dark evening and we stood there in the cool dark night for hours before they led us back into the disinfecting room and discharged the steam. We were standing pressed to each other. We could not even move but could not say a word. We thought we were going to drown there. We stood there sweating all the night side by side. Early morning, as sweaty we were, covered by a piece of cloth we were watching and waiting in horror to find out where they were going to take us. They entrained us; around 50 of us in a freight car, they gave us bread, Zulag, quite a nice portion of it, and even black coffee. We arrived in Stutthof. Also here we stayed in a smaller-sized block. Now, everyone had a bed and a blanket on her own, and we could already bath. We received 200 grams of mouldy bread a day, and a tiny little piece of margarine. The soup was like the one in Auschwitz but cleaner. We stayed here only for three weeks before we left in a transport for Branau. We travelled for two days by train. At the beginning rations were bad, but food was prepared clean, and around three months later it became abundant. I was assigned to work in the kitchen peeling potatoes, which was an advantageous position because I became a privileged person. There was around 100 kilos of potatoes to be peeled a day, but still it was an enviable position. We had to carry potatoes as well. At the end we started working already at 3:30 am, then we had to line up for roll call, and we had to return to work even after the evening roll call because otherwise we could not have finished it. We stayed here till the end of January, when they wanted to escape in the direction of Berlin because the Russians got closer. We walked for around two days when Germans ran away and we were left on our own. Severe fights started in a village so we ran into a cellar and spent there a few hours. We heard the voice of men, and thought that Germans had come back to fetch us. We heard cries in Russian telling us that we should escape as the house was in fire. They recognised we were prisoners. We managed to leave the burning house while they were still intensely fighting. A woman with her daughter and 17 other people were encircled and remained in the street of the village. There were many who got injured: they received first aid. We walked for a day with difficulties crossing snowstorms and showers of bullets before we reached Bromberg. It was at the end of January, I cannot remember the exact date of our liberation. We stayed later in Bromberg for four weeks before we started wandering. Later, we had a few good weeks rest in Krakow. We kept on moving from one place to another for quite a while before we finally arrived in Homonna, from where I went home to Munkács. Future plans: Later, I may go to Palestine.
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