Protocol Nr. 220
The person in question has given us the following information: I was visiting my relatives in Ipolyság in November 1943. My parents and four siblings stayed at home in Szeklence; they were deported from there. My father was a teacher of religion and we also had a piece of land and a shop; we were living under quite good financial circumstances. When Szeklence returned to Hungary, our shop was taken away. When the Germans came in, I was unable to return home; I did not even know what was happening to my relatives. There were approximately 6000 Jews in the Ipolyság ghetto. It was announced that we had to move to the ghetto in half an hour. We could take whatever we could carry: food, clothing, etc. The girls were taken to farmsteads to work: I was away for 17 days performing agricultural work. We had a common kitchen too; the order in the ghetto was kept by the Jewish police, while from outside it was guarded first by gendarmes then by policemen. The orders were issued by the chief constable and they were carried out in the strictest way. We were ordered to surrender our jewellery and cash, and it was announced that anybody not obeying would be severely punished. Valuables were surrendered, but they found it unsatisfactory and house searches were conducted. But every so often even after these searches they were unsatisfied and they summoned the person in question and interrogated him or her in the most brutal manner until he or she told them where the jewellery and the money was. A 75-year-old craftsman named Polgár was beaten to death while being interrogated. Women were undressed and their hands and feet tied while being beaten, so they could only speak. If they fainted, they were allowed to rest and then came the beating again. Mrs Preier was beaten throughout a whole night until noon the next day. By Shabout we got back from work; we were not let out of the ghetto anymore and they also rounded up those who were still in the neighbouring villages doing agricultural work. We did not know what that meant. At 4 am on June 7 we were ordered to get ready to leave in half an hour. At 8 we were lined up in lines of five in the centre of town and taken to the agricultural school on the edge of town. We were then until 10 am the next day and then we were set off for the ghetto. Prior to that all of us were undressed and they took away all the money and jewellery we still had left. We could keep the food, though. Three thousand of us were crammed into the loft of the agricultural school. Later the elderly were put on carts and we were set off on foot for Illéspuszta where we arrived in the evening. Four thousand of us were crammed into a barn; we had no room, it was dark and we could hardly find some place for ourselves. We spent four days in Illéspuszta. During this time the only way we could sleep was in a sitting position, since the crowdedness was unbearable. We had a kitchen here too. From here we were taken to Balassagyarmat and then we were entrained together with the people from the Balassagyarmat ghetto. Sixty-nine people were put into our cattle car; we did not get water or a bucket for the bodily needs either. Nobody died in our car, but I heard about more than one case of death in the other ones. Hungarian gendarmes escorted us to Kassa and called upon us to surrender any jewellery or cash we might still had otherwise there would be a big trouble. Some people tried to escape. In Kassa the gendarmes entered the car and told us that we would go to Germany and those working hard would be treated well. After Kassa water was given to us at two or three stations. We arrived in Auschwitz on June 19. We were received by men in striped clothes and SS officers. Men and women were separated. I was shouting that I wanted to go with the elderly; I was told that we would see each other in half an hour. Then we were taken to the bath and on the way we met a group of women who were close-cropped: it was a terrible sight. We were undressed in the bath, our hair was cut, our good clothes were taken away and we were given rags in exchange. The good shoes were also taken away and clogs were distributed. We were assigned to the Gypsy camp. There was no room; the barrack was not finished yet, so we did not even spend the night there. In the evening we were squeezed into a half-built block: 1300 of us into block 7. There was no room to lie, you could only sit or stand. Roll calls took place here too. We had to line up in rows of five and stand there for hours. On the third day I was put on a transport after a medical examination. We were entrained, 50 of us in one cattle car. We got bread for the travel, some salami and margarine too. We arrived in Plaszow on about June 25. This was a work camp. Five hundred of us were crammed into a block; we had somewhat more bearable resting places here: we were lying in bunks, two blankets for three persons. We got barley gruel, one-fourth of a loaf of bread, coffee in the morning and bread in the evening without any Zulag. I was working in a stone mine in the construction unit. I had to carry pieces of rocks weighing 30-40 kilograms for 2-3 kilometres. There was no water. We lined up for roll call at 5 am, at 7 we were assigned to work units. Lunch break was from noon to 2 pm and then the work lasted until 6 pm. I was assigned to different places all the time, but the work was equally hard everywhere. We spent seven weeks here and then all the prisoners were deported further, since the frontline was approaching. We travelled four days back to Auschwitz; many died on the way due to thirst. It was terribly crowded; there were 130 prisoners in a freight car. We did not get any food on the way. We had some bread spared from the camp, the Polish women bought some water and we exchanged with them. We arrived in Birkenau where there was another selection: the elderly, the sick and the weak were singled out; those capable of working were sent to the other side. The next step was the bath and another haircut for those whose hair had grown back in the meantime. We spent the whole night standing there naked and the next day we were tattooed. Then we were given a thin dress and then 1500 of us were taken to block 14 of camp B2. The food supply was somewhat better and we did not even work. Nevertheless we had to line up for roll call at 2 am and to stand there until 8 am. Those were cold autumn days already and the mornings were cold. At the times of the frequent block curfews we were not allowed to go out of the block. They put bromide into our soups. We were hanging about all day without any particular reason: we were standing in the courtyard or lie down; the block curfew lasted from after lunch until 5 pm and then came the roll call again. The crematorium was surrounded by blankets stretched out on the iron fence. You could see the smoke all the time and smell the stink of burning bones. I was here for five weeks. On September 2 there was another roll call and then we were taken to work, but we did not know where. We were put into camp G from where we were loading quilts. In the evening we were taken back. In front of the kitchen we saw a transport that was short of 20 women, so we were assigned to them too. They took us to camp A where we spent the night after the bath. In the morning new dresses were distributed, then a German woman ordered us to undress and we had to go back to the camp. We got back our old, ragged clothes and were put into block 13. This was a work camp. The next day after bath we were entrained. We got a loaf of bread, margarine, liver paste, a bucket of coffee and water for the travel. Fifty of us were put into a freight car and we travelled for four days with SS escort. We arrived in Markleberg at midnight. This was a relatively new work camp. After getting off the train, ten of us were put into a room where all of us were given separate bunks and a blanket. Moreover we got plates, cups and spoons as well. At noon barley gruel was distributed, hot meal in the evening and one-fifth of a loaf of bread for a person. Roll call occurred only in the morning. We rested for three days and then we were assigned to an armament factory where we worked with machines. We worked 12 hours a day in day and night shifts. We were woken up at 4 am; after roll call we left at 6 for work. We worked together with Russians, Polish, Dutch and French; the forewomen were Germans. We were not allowed to contact the other prisoners and the civilian German female workers. Those who talked to them were severely punished and had their hair cropped. Around April 10 we saw the SS packing up and getting ready to leave. In the afternoon all workers were taken back to the camp. The Oberscharführer gave a speech and told us that they had to leave the camp, but we could stay there and we would not be hurt if we kept working hard. When he said that we would go back to Hungary, we started to cry. Meanwhile he got a phone call and when he got back, he announced that the prisoners had to leave the camp, since the American troops are approaching and the Russians are only 4 kilometres away. We emptied the warehouse, got some clothes and left. The hospital was also evacuated. Around that time I grew very weak: I was in hospital, since the air in the factory ruined my heart. We walked for 16 days and got only one-fourth of a loaf of bread. Later all the food we had was the grass we picked. On the third day we arrived at a field and it was very cold lying there. An air raid hit us and we scattered. The SS shot at us, but many could escape. In the morning we continued the march and walked day and night; it was only in the forests that we rested for half an hour. We ate raw nettle, sorrel and potato; these occasions were special, since all we got for the march was two slices of bread and some coffee. Later we walked only during the day and slept in the forests in the night. One thousand five hundred of us left the camp and only 680 entered Theresienstadt. The rest lagged behind and fell victim to the bombardments. Near Dresden we were hit by an extensive air raid: 12 prisoners died there. We kept on marching and on April 25 we arrived in Theresienstadt. The Russians liberated us here on May 7. We got a quarter of a loaf of bread here and some sweet coffee. We were so happy that we kissed the bread. There were 56,000 Jews in Theresienstadt and we were told that if the Russians had not arrived in two to three days, then all of us would have been executed. I left on June 8. By then a typhoid fever epidemic broke out; many died. I did not wait for an organised transport, but came home to Budapest via Prague and Bratislava.