Protocol Nr. 1788

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Name: B. L.
Gender: male
Place of birth: Budapest
Date of birth: 1911
Place of residence: Rákoskeresztúr
Occupation: butcher
Camps: Flossenburg, Ohrdruf, Buchenwald

The person in question tells the following: I was drafted for labour service on 25th November 1942 in the Tattersaal, than I was taken to Vác, to Pestszentlőrinc, finally to Szentkirályszabadja. From there they took me by train, then by ship to Bor. In Bor, they took me to the Berlin-Lager. I was doing well there by chance, because I worked at the meat works. I also worked in the kitchen, but that work was awful because the dining room called “Margarine bar” was next to the kitchen and they trussed up the prisoners there. I had to hear and see the suffering of our comrades during those inhuman procedures. The punishments were horrible. If a German foreman reported the smallest thing against somebody, the person was trussed up twice for two hours. A doctor was always present at those occasions. Once they suspected some people of having planned an attempt to escape. They locked them in a potato pit and they took them from there to be trussed up every night. That was always terrible, but it varied according to which labour service guard did it. Some of them tightened them very strongly. Corporal Horváth pulled them up so high that their feet did not touch the floor, they were turning round in the air. They often made us carry bricks in the camp. In such a case everybody had to go in single file to fetch bricks. This applied to everyone; even if those, who worked at night had just gone to sleep they had to get up and carry bricks for an hour, than they could go back to rest. If somebody did not march properly or tried to have a little rest meanwhile, a corporal called Juhász beat him brutally. Some men were caught when they attempted to escape. Most of them were locked in a pit, while Lieutenant Colonel Marányi and his illustrious assistants executed the two principals. There was the SS, the Wermacht, the Todt Organisation and we had to march there too. Marányi gave a speech in which he promised that if we work hard for the great German ally, we may also have a place under the sun. When the two convicts were being taken to the place of execution one fellow waved them goodbye. He was sentenced to be trussed up twice for two hours and 25 strokes. After the execution of the two “principals” they turned their attention to the eleven others locked in the pit. They got half of the food portions, they were completely isolated and they were taken up to be trussed up for some hours every day. Before we left the place, they had been taken away in a car. Later in the meat works I heard a foreman’s acquaintance telling him that they had dug up their graves, than they had been lined up and executed. A man who worked in Lieutenant Colonel Marányi’s office, he was practically his right-hand man, drew a picture of Marányi and his woman. The former lieutenant colonel had passed this woman to him. He made a complete collection of caricatures of them and he wanted to send it home along with a black letter, in which he had written everything honestly. This letter and the drawings got caught. Marányi sentenced him to 120 hours of trussing up and 25 strokes every other day. Once I saw him receiving those 25 strokes. He was laid on three benches pushed together and Corporal Horváth was beating him. He was hitting him with all his might, the man was wriggling under the blows. His arm was turned totally inside out, like that of a gymnast, but he endured it. He somehow suffered even the truss ups. One day, Corporal Horváth took him away by the command of the lieutenant colonel. We never saw him again. 50-60 people were trussed up every Sunday in the “Margarine bar”. They were hanging there like the clothes on a washing line. Sometimes they were beaten while hanging there. They were not, of course, trussed up properly, so that their toes would have reached the ground, but they were pulled up, thus they were turning round in the air. I was lucky because they never trussed me up and I worked in the meat works till the last day. The enclosed photo shows the Berlin lager, by the way. I left with the first wave for Serbia. My friend Lajos Wintergrün was shot dead on the way. He was said to have been shot by a warrant officer. They said he had shot him down because he had gone to the maize field, but my poor friend was going on the edge of the road when he was shot in the stomach. We continued our way. An SS sergeant shot down a guy because he was not able to march on and sat down. He told him to get up but he was not able to do that. He shot at least ten bullets over his head to frighten him. Than he grabbed the man, lifted him, pushed the gun to his head, blew his brains out and threw him into the ditch. We had breaks from time to time. In such cases we left the road to rest on the edge of the ditch. At one of the breaks the same sergeant told us not to go off the road. People at the beginning of the row did not hear this and went to the edge of the ditch, as in other times. The sergeant went there and shot down 15-16 of them. We arrived in Cservenka. There we lay down in a pigsty. At dawn I heard someone yelling “auf, auf”. I put on my shoes at once and they chased us up to the attic of the brickyard. We heard terrifying gunshots and grenades exploding. A corporal came shouting that everybody had to hand in their valuables, because there would be a body search and on whom they would find something would get in the biggest trouble. At the same time groups of fifty were being led down from the attic. I was placed in one of these groups. A Hungarian labour service guard asked the man behind me what message he wanted to send to his wife. He said he wanted to send no message because he knew anyway that his family had been dragged away. Than the guard asked if he still had something valuable to give him. The man had a ring, which he gave to the guard. In a minute a German SS man came on a horse and stopped the “body search”. I thought that the pit into which the victims were shot had already been full and we would be taken elsewhere, but it was not what happened. We had to bow our heads and first they beat us up, than they set us off. Out on the road we had to lie down in the ditch, while the other groups were formed, than we departed for Zombor. Four men were given spades on the way, and they were taken to the maize field to bury a cadaver there. When they finished, they were let go. After half an hour the same men were called. Only three of them answered the call. They searched for the fourth one. Those three told them who the fourth man was. They took all the four of them in the maize field and executed them. Than they asked again for four people to bury those, than again, groups of twenty already. Meanwhile we had to keep lying on the ground with heads bowed so that we did not see what was happening. Then a SS man came on a horse. One of the guys, named Bandi Farkas stood up from the row in a self- sacrificing way, he went to the SS man and reported to him that murders were going on there, although we were workers, not looting partisans as one of the labour service guards was spreading about us. Having heard this, the SS horseman prohibited the killing, what is more, he promised that we would no longer be chased as we had been so far. Indeed, we marched rather slowly up to Baja. Although, an order was given that whoever fell back should be shot. Before we reached Baja an SS man threw me an ear of maize; I bent down to pick it up. Of course my hungry fellows all wanted to snatch it and a tumult was formed; people fell upon me and I broke my shoulder. The others encouraged me not to fall behind as I knew it meant certain death. One of my comrades, who had taken some water into his cap from the mud, put the cap on my head. Thad felt good, it eased my pain. I dragged myself to Baja. They formed companies with Jewish commanders in Baja. The community of Baja treated us very nicely. The mayor had the Jews’ flats opened and gave us clothes from there. A colonel took us under his wing, since no one wanted to take us over. Other labour servicemen having escaped from Szeged renounced their bread portions of two days in favour of us. We got hold of a live calf too. I undertook the job of the cook, although my arm hurt badly, but I was hungry and I thought I might look after myself that way. I slaughtered the calf with my aching arm. The next day we left Baja on a ferry. On the other side of the river they entrained us and took us to Szentkirályszabadja. There I became a cook again and I could give my fellows 4-5 decilitres of food. They were in very poor shape and the food was rather fat, thus it caused a terrible diarrhoea, so they became very weak. Here Corporal Horváth shot down a man again, because he had jumped over the fence for potatoes. The kitchen was outside the camp, the cooks had to go out together in the morning. Once I went out a little later than the others and for this the guard at the gate beat me so cruelly that I was not able to go to the kitchen for two days. We continued on our way. They selected two cooks from every company to cook on the way. We were taken under German command in Mosonmagyaróvár. From there they took us by passenger train to Flossenburg, where we were kept in quarantine for 14 days. Part of the cracked- up companies stayed in that place as they were ill, many of them died there. We were stripped naked, than we got striped trousers, a coat and a shirt, plus shoes with wooden soles or slippers. After 14 days we were put into cattle cars and we went on. When we arrived in Ohrdruf we were taken in a camp. The camp had just been built and it had not been finished completely. We were chased into a barrack. On the next day we were selected from the point of view of working ability. They found me able-bodied. We walked 11 kilometres to work every day. We got up at 4 o’clock in the morning, then Appell was held, then we were given a black coffee and some bread for the day, but of course we ate it all up at once. We went to the place of work at 7 o’clock. We had to push trolleys, blast rocks and things like that. The work, which we did under continuous SS surveillance, was terribly hard. However cold it was, we had to work in a light coat and without gloves. After work we went home in complete darkness, there we got turnip soup, which was prepared at noon. It was all just water and by the time we got it in the evening it had always turned sour. We were disgusted, but of course, we ate it. When I got home in the evening I was so exhausted that I lay down on the floor dressed up, so I became infested with lice. Once I had to dig a hole. When I finished, but I was still in the hole, a big air raid started. This made the SS man furious and he beat me so hard that I could hardly climb out of the hole. Usually during the air raids the SS men behaved as if we would have sent the bombs on them. At the same time I saw that they let 50 people home from their workplaces. I joined them, but the SS man hit me on the kidney with the barrel of his gun. I suffered that and I went on together with the other fifty, with my teeth clenched. The next day one of my friends went to hospital and I put on his clothes not to let my SS man recognise me. That is how I managed to escape from him. A week later I got blood poisoning. On Christmas day a Polish surgeon operated on my leg and my shoulder. The operation was very successful and I stayed in hospital until 7th February. On 8th February they discharged me from hospital. I was so week that I could hardly stand up; I was only 42 kilos, yet I had to go out to work. A week before the liberation, when the Americans were rather close already, they put us on trucks. I could, by pure chance, climb up on one of the trucks. Those who had no place, healthy and sick people just as well, were being chased on foot. We got food for five days. I arrived in Buchenwald the next day, but the others were coming for ten days with food enough for five days only. A great number of them died on the way. These fellow sufferers, who had been coming on foot, were in such bad condition in Buchenwald that when they were taken to the baths and stood under the shower, several people collapsed under the weight of the water and many of them died. We were placed in wooden barracks where we were squeezed together by the hundred, so we could not even sleep. There I was so week already, I weighed 42 kilos, that I could not go up one stair. Before the liberation people were taken away with transports. They announced that the Jews had to register. I did not register then, neither on the second, nor on the third day. After that they forced everybody to go and from those whom they took away we did not hear any more, there was no hope for them. On one occasion when they forced us to leave the barrack by beating, I began to go towards the Appellplatz. I saw two dead bodies lying in front of the hospital, I lay down by them. I thought that I would not go back, they might as well shoot me down, but I could not walk anyway. But then the transport was cancelled and I went back to the barrack. The next day I felt somehow stronger. When they started to chase us, I thought, let it all be over, and I went up to the Appellplatz. There one of the SS men selected me in a group when I caught sight of a Gypsy who belonged to my barrack. So, I told him that I wanted to go together with my acquaintances from the barrack. He said it was all the same, as everybody would be leaving anyway. When we set off after two steps I went to the Gypsy. The others proceeded on. In five minutes’ time the march was cancelled. We stayed there, and the next day the Americans liberated us. 51,000 people were there originally. 30,000 of these were dragged away, so 21,000 of us were liberated. I was in such bad condition that the Americans took me to hospital. Luckily, I did not get the diarrhoea, from which almost everybody suffered. Very many people died there. I tended four people, who were not really able to eat, so I ate their rations too. Within a week, I was the one to serve the whole hall. The hospital was closed down and I was put in a Hungarian barrack where I became room commander within 3 days. Thus I did even a little better. There were 50 freight cars of potatoes on the territory of the camp, which they made available to us. I was cooking from morning till night. I told the commander of the barrack to send those, coming from the hospital to me, to fatten them up. On one occasion I went into the kitchen where Russian prisoners of war were cooking and they were slaughtering a pig. I saw them throwing the innards away, together with the inner fat. I took four people from my room and we gathered the innards. In a short time I had pots full of fat, and of course I cooked everything with much fat to make the food nutritious. I also got into the storeroom of clothes. I managed to dress up about 25 people completely. When I heard that many of them were going home, some of them alone, eight of us joined and we set off. We were not allowed to leave the country, as there was a complete sealing of the frontiers. I did not want to risk my life, so we went in the Wells camp. Soon a transport departed from Wells. Unfortunately that was also stopped and we were taken to Dornach, where the Russians came in and set us off on foot. One morning I left Kilb alone. I arrived after a long walk. During that time, through all the suffering the only thought that gave me strength was that I had to come home to be together with my family again. That is why I came home through the hell. But I could not find anybody at home. My wife and my little daughter had been taken from Rákoskeresztúr to Auschwitz and I have not heard anything about them ever since.
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