Protocol Nr. 174
The person in question has given us the following information: The Jewish population of Ungvár was around fourteen thousand before Germans invaded the country. Most of them were tradesmen and craftsmen living in good financial conditions. My father had a textile shop, we also lived in stable conditions. Even before the German occupation, gendarmes caused lots of trouble to the Jews. They summoned them without any reason with various pretexts. They searched for immigrant Slovak Jews, and would beat everybody up. It happened back in 1943 that gendarmes found a lot of leaflets on me, then they took me to the police and beat me up, and my father could only free me with a large sum of money. Mayor Dr László Megay hated Jews very much. It was him, who issued the orders against the Jews which appeared on posters, including the order of the 5 of April, 1944 obliging Jews to wear yellow stars. Christian residents watched these events with malicious joy, when I walked in the street they would make remarks, such as „look, this girl is also a Jew“. On the 14th of April, 1944, they began to collect Jewish boys to work on the preparation of the ghetto in the brick factory. The atmosphere in general was distressing, but we came to terms with it, we had to, because we were helpless. There were no complaints about the members of the Jewish Council: Dr László, the pharmacist László, the fashion shop owner Kalkstein, Dr Cottlieb and Wild. Councillor Wild even tried to stand up for us, but he was arrested. On 20th of April, 1944, the mayor issued the order concerning the ghetto. Policemen came for each family, they put down a protocol, and we had to hand in the gold, valuables and money. They did not search the house when we were taken to the ghetto, they only searched us when we were in the ghetto, we could only keep two sets of underwear, clothes, bedclothes and food. The luggage was brought to us on wagons later. There were two ghettos in town, the brick factory and the timber yard, we were sent into to the brick factory ghetto. The overall number of people in the two ghettos was around twenty thousand, because Jews from the neighbouring areas were also brought here. The ghetto was surrounded by a fence, one side opened to the fields, where it was marked by red flags, and whoever crossed this boundary was shot dead. I know about two such cases. They never told us that it was prohibited to cross, people would cross also by accident. Policemen armed with hand grenades guarded the ghetto, while Jewish policemen kept order inside. The ghetto had its leaders, and parcels could be sent from town. I was here with my mother and my younger brother; my father was interned in Budapest, since he had been arrested on a train when he wanted to travel. Transports of labourers would go to town to work, women as well. They sorted out the furniture and clothes in abandoned Jewish flats, carried them to larger flats where they selected them. In addition, they also built small barracks in the ghetto, otherwise we just lay around in the engine room and the heating room. Our „flat“, for example, was in the attic. There was a common kitchen, but this was not very organised, they could not cook enough, they also brought here the food left in empty Jewish flats in town, but it was not enough. They could only give us some watery soup once a day, sometimes coffee without sugar in the morning, and no bread at all. Therefore everybody was still eating the food they had brought with themselves. As I have mentioned above, transports of labourers were going to town to work, on one of these occasions I had to sort out my own trousseau. The police captain would often come out to the ghetto and wait for transports of labourers to arrive home, and he would seize the butter or milk, etc. that we had obtained with great difficulties and were bringing home. If someone tried to protest claiming that for example they brought the milk for little children, he would beat them up. Otherwise the atmosphere was always positive, mostly because Russians were getting closer to us. Three weeks later rumour had it that we would be taken to work, and now our greatest worry was to remain together with our families. I do not know of anyone who attempted to escape from the ghetto, only some people tried to hide when we were moving into the ghetto but they failed, and they brought them to the ghetto and put them into barrack 7. This was a dark-cell, the prisoners of which were put into the first transport. They were treated very badly, beaten all the time, and even that little watery soup was withheld. It happened that more well-to-do people were called into the office of the ghetto police, where they searched them for their gold, and then put them into barrack 7. Grünwald, the landowner, for example, was beaten up because he did not tell them where his jewels were. Women were not allowed to walk in dressing gowns. Once, a German officer saw a little girl in a dressing gown, and got her hair be cut off. In general they told us that they would cut everybody’s hair off still in the ghetto. On the 23rd of May, 1944, they announced through a microphone the names of heads of families, and these people had to be ready with their families by the following day. Deportation began the 23rd of May, 1944. They put together transports, we got into the second transport. We walked to the railway station, which was about three kilometres from the ghetto. We could take everything we had in the ghetto. They said that we would stay within Hungary, also the officials said the same. They only told a few people that we were going to travel in Germany. On the way to the station gendarmes behaved very cruelly, they would beat you if you could not carry your luggage. Non-Jewish population were watching the preparations for deportation happily, they could hardly wait to pillage freely. There were 83 people in a freight car. We were entrained in the morning, and were standing in closed train cars at the station until half past ten in the evening. Earlier, we were thoroughly searched in an empty freight car, all remaining valuables were taken away, and they left us only 10 pengős per person. Gendarmes did this search. We got water in the freight cars and two buckets for toilet. They did not open the cars until Kassa, where Germans took charge of the train. There were many helpless, sick and old people in our freight car. The son of a sick, old woman wanted to prepare for her a place for lying on the floor, which caused a row, I wanted to calm down everyone and warned them that if they did not keep silent the soldiers would shoot into the car, but they would not take my advice and kept on arguing. When in the evening we got to the Polish border, at Kuzsnyica they shot into the freight car, the bullet tore off half of the face of the old woman’s son, and the poor man died. Splinters were flying all over, I got one into my forehead. Everybody was very much scared. The SS soldier, when the man was still alive, came in to ask whether this was freight car he had shot into, and when the captain of the freight car asked him whether we might quickly find a doctor, the soldier answered that if he dared to speak one more word, he would lie next to him. The family was of course crying, then they shouted in the car that if they heard one more word, they would detach the freight car and execute all of us. We were afraid that they would actually carry out their threats and execute everybody. They were shooting the whole night into the other freight cars as well, our freight car was shot into again, we were lying face down until early dawn with our breaths held. In the morning we found out that another person died. A 28-year-old woman was standing by the window when they first shot in, and she got the bullet first, which was deflected and then hit the man’s face. The woman collapsed immediately and we found her dead only in the morning. We travelled with these two dead bodies until Krakow, and smelled the stink of these two corpses all through the four-day journey. But they would also throw stones into the freight cars, two children got their heads broken in. Of course we could not even think of escape, there was no way. In Krakow they opened the freight cars and we got some water. The SS soldier asked if there were dead bodies here, but after all we travelled with them all the way to Auschwitz. When I showed my wound to the SS soldier, he said: “das machts nichts.” We arrived in Auschwitz at half past eight in the morning on the 26th of May, 1944. We were received by men wearing striped clothes who shouted at us to get off and leave everything in the cars. I held on to my mother and got off together with my younger brother, but before that I quickly grabbed a loaf of bread, and still in the freight car we put on all the clothes we could. I had no time to look around when a German officer asked me in Hungarian how old I was and whether I was healthy. He assured me that we would meet later, and separated me from my mother, he sent me to the left and my mother to the right. When I saw that there were only young girls in the group on the left, my heart sank. They lined us up in fives and marched us a long way to the baths. I had bad feelings about what I saw although the barracks were obviously clean, there were even flowers around one of them. Later, I found out that that was the Capos’ barrack. We got to Camp A in Birkenau, it was specifically an extermination camp. Before the bath, a Polish man received us and we asked him how it was going to be, whether we would be able to keep our clothes. The Polish man was quite well- dressed, we asked whether we would be dressed the same way. In front of the bath there were men wearing only trousers, they looked terribly hungry, we threw some bread over to them, and they jumped to it while the SS were beating these poor people. We could not take anything into the bath with us. We were ordered to quickly take off all our clothes, a few girls were shy to get undressed, then the woman in charge cruelly tore the clothes off them shouting „we don’t feel sorry for you, we haven’t had a life for two years while you lived still well.” They cut our hair off, while SS soldiers were being lined up and some of them were mocking us. The whole situation was very humiliating, and when one of the girls said something against it, she was slapped in the face and told dirty words. We got dressed in another room, we had some sort of blouse, a skirt and a non-matching pair of shoes, but instead of the shoes many got wooden clogs. If their own shoes were in good conditions, they immediately seized them. We had to line up five in a row and were counted, and then they sent us to the barracks in small groups. We were walking for three hours, but I would rather call it running, because SS woman came by motorbike, and the twenty-four of us had to run after her. When we arrived we had to line up again and were taken to the bath. A tall, black-haired woman herded twenty-four women in grey uniforms in here and ordered them to get undressed. They started horribly crying and begging. These miserable women shouted that they were healthy and wanted to work, one of them was pregnant, but all twenty- four had some functional diseases. They undressed them and we got their clothes, while they were taken to the crematorium, it was horrible to listen to them begging. A crazy woman wanted to hit the Capo, who lifted the miserable woman’s head and smashed it to the ground and into a column. We saw flames day and night about one and a half kilometres away, and when we asked, they told us that they were baking bread there, but later we found out that it was the building of the crematorium, the flames came from there. In the morning when we were being lined up for roll call, we always smelled burnt bones and meat. Appells were the worst part of the day. We had to get up at half past two in the morning under the stars and coming out of the bathroom we put on our clothes while we were still wet, because we had to get ready in seconds and march out to the yard. If someone tried to put a shawl over her bald head, and the supervisor woman came, she had to take it off quickly. If someone was not standing straight enough, she kicked them with her boots. We suffered terribly standing there like this for hours, because everybody had diarrhoea because of the bad food. We were often beaten up while coming out of the bathroom, if someone did not hurry up, the woman in charge would strike her on the wet back so much that she definitely felt it. Block curfew was also a means of torturing us. On these occasions we got no water. The climate of Auschwitz is quite extreme, the heat of the day was often followed by very cold nights, when our throats were dry, but we did not get any water. There were 1,200 people in the block, 14 people slept in one square metre, and we never had proper rest. It was very hot still at 8 o’clock, and only late at night, when the air cooled down, we could fall asleep, but then we were woken for roll call. Bread was very bad, it tasted like sawdust, at the beginning we got the fourth of a one-and-a- half-kilo bread, later the sixth, or even the seventh. A bit of margarine was added to it, sometimes a little marmalade or a slice of sausage. Soup was completely inedible, made of grass, without any salt, they put bromide into the morning coffee, which gave many people rashes. Soup was given to us in a plate, ten people had one plate, and we had to slurp the soup out of it, later we managed to get a spoon in exchange for bread. Around four weeks later we had to start working. We worked on the construction of the camp hospital, women from Pest cut the grass, and we carried it away for about two kilometres. It was when we saw the crematorium. Selections happened only when we were chosen for work. But there was a black car, and if someone reported that an other person was sick, she would be immediately taken away by the car in the morning. During a block curfew I was terribly thirsty, went into the bathroom and, disregarding the ban, drank some water. The Capo, a German political prisoner in civvies, asked me what I was doing here and hit me with her thick, black rod. This enraged me and I attacked her and snatched the rod from her. I beat her up very much, while the Polish woman in charge was watching the scene. I ran back into the block gasping, and a Slovak woman called Olga asked me what had happened. There were no immediate consequences, but three days later the Capo made me step out of line during roll call, and asked me whether it was right to hit a superior. For the time being she ordered me to kneel in the middle with a brick in my hand during the whole roll call. The others had to kneel too, but not with a brick. I went on doing this for three hours. The Blockältester called me into her room that evening and told me she did not think I would be taken to crematorium. Next day she called me out of line again during roll call and asked me why I did it. I told her that I was very thirsty and that the woman hit me immediately, and that was why I had beaten her up. She assured me that I would go to crematorium, but I was a bit calmer, because I saw that the thing was taking time, still I was nervously waiting for the next day. During Zählappell they looked at me indifferently, and I knew I was safe. Afterwards, they considered me a hero, because I dared to do such a thing at all. Last selections were on 30 June, 1944, when Dr Mengele put a transport together. There were two selections: we had to walk through the yard once in clothes, then completely naked, and whoever had the smallest pimple had to remain. Afterwards, we were taken to the baths, they registered our data, and we got dressed. There was block curfew until the 2nd of July, 1944, then we left for Gelsenberg in the Rurh-Area. The journey was not particularly hard, because Wehrmacht soldiers accompanied us. We got a loaf of bread, three portions of margarine and sausage for the journey. Our transport of labourers arrived in Gelsenberg at a large, ugly factory on the 5th of July, 1944. The town and the factory were badly bombed, we were desperate that there would be many bombings. We found out that we would work on clearing up the rubble. 1,200 of us lived in huge military tents, there were bunks, but everybody had their own beds, and we also got two blankets. We had our kitchen too, and daily rations were made up of a third of a loaf of bread, margarine, marmalade, sometimes even sugar, and there were plenty of potatoes in the soup and also canned food. My transport cleared the rubble and carried reinforced concrete blocks, but I did not work there, because I started working only two weeks later. It happened when I was out there for the fifth time that I hurt my hand, and they had to cut it twice. In the beginning it did not seem serious, but later it got swollen and purulent, I was taken to hospital in Horst and got operated on. I reported for bandaging every second day. On 11 September, 1944, they were bombing the hospital. The oil and petrol- refinery factory was just being built. We were very much afraid in our grey clothes, because we looked like German soldiers. The aeroplanes were flying very low and shooting with their machine guns. We ran to the yard, many people got injured, 125 people died. I was lying in hospital with typhus and a fever of over 40 degrees and my hand also hurt. They put the dead bodies together, poured petrol over them and set them on fire. A plaque showed in town that 2,000 Hungarian Jewish girls rested there who fell victim of American bombings. A friend of mine, who worked in the office, personally saw this document, although the number of dead girls was only 125. The 16th of September, 1944, I was transferred to the Gelsenkirchen hospital, where I lay for 10 weeks with typhus, and my hand started hurting again. My hair completely fell out. On 18 September, 1944, the camp was completely dissolved, and the girls left for Sommerda, but I stayed behind in the hospital for two more months and left for Sommerda only on the 19th of November, 1944, when they gathered the injured people into a transport. On 22 November, 1944, we started working in an ammunition factory, we worked twelve hours a day in day and night shifts. The work was easy at the beginning, but later we lifted boxes weighing 45 kilos, 100 pieces a day, and I was telling them in vain that my hand was ill, I looked strong and there was not enough manpower. For example, a 15-year-old little girl worked on an automatic machine, she did four moves twenty-five thousand times a day. There were four such machines, and young girls worked on them, who were completely ruined by this work. Our camp was three kilometres far from the factory. There were German foremen and masters: we worked together with French, Belgian and Italian people. We got blue striped shirts, out of which we sewed nice blouses by hand, although we did not even have thread, we helped ourselves by hemstitching. The SS women in charge envied us, they were jealous of us because we looked pretty. There was a shoemaker’s workshop, where shoemaker girls worked, but we also had a tailor’s workshop, where the girls sewed for the SS women. The blocks were relatively clean and supplies were adequate, one third of a loaf of bread, margarine and sausages a day. On the 3rd of January, 1945, an order was issued that we had to wear yellow patches and sew our numbers on them. We belonged to the Buchenwald camp, if someone made a mistake, they immediately threatened them to transport them to Buchenwald. A little girl from Beregszász sabotaged in a way that she would always break the needles, then they cut a stripe into her hair, and she was not allowed to wear a shawl. Rózsi Katz, a girl from Máramarossziget, also sabotaged: she had worked in the office earlier, she was well-known and the Lagerführer liked her. When she went to work, she joined the transport that was coming from work and persuaded Dr Mrs Verner to go with her. She did it twice but failed for the third time, and Rózsi Katz’s hair was cut off, but prior to that they cut a stripe into her hair also, moreover, she was threatened to be taken to Buchenwald. At that time there was no work to do for three weeks because of the lack of raw materials, so we pretended to work, and used old bullets for the production, and this lack of work also reflected in our provisions. We would get a loaf of bread cut into five pieces, then in six, later in seven pieces. On 17 March, 1945, we were dismissed, and American troops were approaching us, so we got into a transport. On the 4th of April, 1945, we left Sommerda on foot. We walked 16-18 kilometres a day, and did not even get bread for the journey. We always slept in barns: they closed the barn in the evening and only opened it in the morning. We were lucky if they ordered the farmer to give us some hay for the ground. For two weeks we got 5-6 pieces of potatoes but no bread. We arrived in Mauslowitz on April 10, 1945. This is a concentration camp, surrounded by wires that conducted high voltage electricity. We saw a group in very bad conditions, men who looked like living corpses. We suspected that we got to a very bad place. We were here for two days only, but I will never forget this time, it was horrible. 52 of us slept in a room, but everybody in their own beds. We got soup and a sixth of a loaf of bread once a day, but without any Zulag. We found 18 Hungarian girls here. The ammunition factory was completely destroyed by bombs. A girl from Pest got two turnips from a man and came to the camp-yard with them. An SS woman noticed it and called her into the office. The Lagerälteste, a woman from Warsaw did believe that she had gotten the turnips from someone, but the Lagerführer entered and saw the two turnips on the table and asked what it was. He wrote down the number and told to girl to report during the evening Zählappell. Then her hair was cut off and then the Lagerführer gave her 25 blows with a hard rubber baton. It was horrible, we could not watch it. A Polish girl stole some potatoes from the kitchen, and another one pretended to be ill and did not go to work. Their hair was cut off as well and they also got 25 blows. I will never forget these images, it was horrible to watch these scenes, but we were forbidden to turn our heads away and had to stand there straight. Suddenly we got an order, and we left Mauslowitz because of th American approach on April 12, 1945. The Lagerälteste told me in secret that partisans were six kilometres away and the English 12 kilometres, so we had to leave. We wanted to stay and hide, but a Lagerführer searched the whole camp with a big dog so that no one could hide. The soldier shot a man in front of our eyes, because he had hidden a broken piece of bread under his coat. American troops managed to capture that group, but not us; as we had been already entrained. There were 120 of us in an open freight car with nothing to eat, not even bread. At the Altenberg station the train stopped, and there was a long train opposite us, full of turnips. A Hungarian- speaking soldier was standing by the train, and we asked him to throw some turnips over to us. The soldiers threw so many turnips that as a result they broke the heads of three people. We went by train to Grasslitz, where we arrived on the 14th of April, 1945. The train opposite to ours carried ammunition. Terrible bombing followed, our freight car was also hit, 80 girls died, 35 got injured. I also helped removing the injured and the dead. Everybody was running towards a small hillock, but the soldiers gathered everyone. We stayed in the freight cars for three days, here we got one tenth of a loaf of bread, and no meals at all. We left Grasslitz on foot, our journey lasted for three weeks. We walked about 25 kilometres a day on average; we got a loaf of bread for the journey and nothing else. By this time we were completely weak. We had to walk barefoot up to the mountains of the Sudeten area, and we had to walk quickly. If someone fell behind, they beat them with the butt of a rifle to make them catch up with the group. We slept in barns, and only twice in a room. One person got three potatoes a day and no bread, but some of us would go into the houses and ask for bread. It happened on the 5th of May, 1945 that a 16-year-old little girl from Dolha went into a house to ask for a slice of bread, and this poor girl was shot dead in front of our eyes. Earlier, on the 3rd of May, 1945, a man was shot because he was weak and fell behind his group. Another Polish Jew was shot, because he fled from the bombings. We made soup from nettles. Some had a little cumin, they poured hot water over that. After one and a half weeks of walking we got 350 grams of bread for the whole week, and we never had cooked meal during this time. There was a wagon for the sick, the put the very sick prisoners up there, but a Hungarian ambulance man did not recommend this, because – as he said, whoever fell 20 metres behind was simply shot dead. We met some people from Buchenwald on the way, they were in a very bad condition, and had not received any food on the journey. On the 8th of May, 1945, Russian troops liberated us in Grosslipp. Our group was divided among the villages. Now we had proper food, and the civilians were distributing clothes as well. They sent us to Laun at the border, where we were disinfected and got some clothes. I stayed here for ten days, I was assigned to be a captain of a school, I arranged accommodation for people, took people to the baths, sick people to the Red Cross, and also distributed food. It happened in Laun that a man with a woman came into the school looking for accommodation. They showed me their referral, and I gave them accommodation. The woman spoke Polish, the man Hungarian. Next morning I started speaking to them in Polish, they told me they did not understand me, I asked them if they spoke Czech or German. The man said Ungarisch, then I spoke Hungarian to him, he said the woman was German. I asked him how come he had a German woman with him, he answered that he had worked in the factory in Chomutov, and now he was taking her home to Budapest to marry her. “Aren’t you afraid to travel with a German woman,” – I asked, he said he was not, but the woman was very much afraid, because her husband had been an SS soldier, who died in Prague when Germans did not want to leave the town. I questioned him as to how he, a single Hungarian, ended up in Chomutov, he answered that he had wanted to escape from the frontline, but he did not manage and Germans enrolled him into the SS. This was not true because he volunteered for the SS, he was also tattooed. I called a member of the National Guard, and with his help I led him to the police, where he started denying. We questioned him, I slapped him twice in the face, the man of the National Guard did likewise, then he confessed that he had indeed been an SS soldier and performed duty in the Breslau camp. Then we tied him up, wrote an SS sign on his back with a piece of chalk and took him to the military station outside town. On the road enraged people wanted to beat him up. He was taken to the barracks, to the torture chamber, for a while I was watching his torture but then I could not stand it any more, I heard that the following day he was executed. In addition, I captured two Polish women, they were arrested because they turned out to be Germans, and probably SS. On the 21st of May, 1945, I arrived in Prague through Olmütz. There were seven of us, and I reported at the office of the station police. The captain asked me to stay, because I spoke Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech and German, he wanted to employ me as an interpreter. We joined the National Guard as interpreters. We went together with the men to the villages to search for and arrest Germans. On these occasions I wore a military uniform and had a pistol and a hand grenade. We stayed in Olmütz until 14 June, 1945, and came straight home from there. Now, I travel home to Ungvár, then my plan is to study at the university of medicine in Prague or Moscow.