Protocol Nr. 3216

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Name: E. K.
Gender: female
Place of birth: Óbecse
Date of birth: 1919
Place of residence: Békéscsaba
Occupation: physical education teacher
Ghetto: Békéscsaba, Dohánygyár
Camps: Auschwitz, Bergen - Belsen, Markleberg, Radebeul

The person in question has given us the following information: About 2500 Jews lived in Békéscsaba, most of them were wealthier tradesmen, artisans and educated people. My father was the director of a bank there, we lived in our own house; we lived in very good financial conditions. I was staying in Székelyudvarhely on 19th March 1944, I taught there in the local teacher’s college. I had Aryan identity papers so I could also travel to Pest; from there I went home, Békéscsaba, for Passover. After the Germans’ entering, my father suffered various insults every day, even on the inhabitants’ part. Their behaviour was usually very nasty, they scribbled our house all over with all kinds of attributes, etc. The mayor was Gyula Jánossy then, we could not complain about him, while the police chief called Lukács was definitely pro-Jewish, hence, he was soon removed from there. We were taken to the ghetto in late April, the streets around the synagogue were designated for this purpose. Raids were made frequently; once the detectives took me with them at a night. They did not want to believe that I lived at my parents’; they thought I was a fugitive. They took me to the police station and examined whether I was registered, but after they had found the registration form, they let me go home. We had quite a normal accommodation in the ghetto; the whole family lived together. My father had a permanent permission from the mayor, so he went to work in the bank till the last day. The members of the Jewish Council, Guttmann, Dr Révész, Sebestyén etc, behaved quite nicely. The women were taken to work in the fields, which was based on voluntary registration, but later the prefect prohibited it. The windows overlooking the street were whitewashed and the gates were always locked with the inscription: “Jewish house”. Some people escaped from the ghetto; I wanted to escape too, but being considerate towards my parents, I gave up my plan. As far as I remember, only natural death cases happened there. The continuous house searches for jewellery and food were an everyday occurrence. 2,500 of us lived for four weeks in the ghetto of the city, then they took us to the tobacco factory by the train station. We were housed in dirty barracks, we were often beaten, tortured and interrogated by SS people, for example the director of the Hubertus Factory, Deutsch was beaten to death. Usually they called in and interrogated the wealthier, more prestigious men to find buried jewellery, moreover, they made them take out the buried possessions. I was caught once because of a letter in which a Christian friend of mine advised me to dye my hair blond. They took me in an interrogating cell, and they brought a hairdresser to check whether my hair had been dyed. She found the colour of my hair natural, then the SS man let me go on condition that I would not attempt escape, nor would I help anybody escape, otherwise they would shoot me dead before my mother’s eyes. This caused my mother two heart attacks. Searches were also an everyday occurrence there; they took away our papers, tore up our photos. Once an SS officer brought 3 kilos of cherries in the ghetto and threw it among the starving little Jewish children. He was watching with pleasure how the poor children were mauling and beating each other for the cherries. I worked as a nurse in the hospital of the ghetto and, sadly, I had the chance to see many cases of suicide; the attempted suicides ended with death in most cases. Among others, the director of sanatorium Fajor of Pest died there, he poisoned himself, his wife and his one-and-a- half-year-old son with morphine. The father and the little boy died, but the wife survived, we came to Aushcwitz with her. 4,000 people lived in the ghetto of the tobacco factory, the Jewry of Békés county included. The women were made do all kinds of unnecessary work, while the SS commander with a truncheon was going around all the time. The camp was controlled by military gendarmes and SS people, the inner order was kept by Jewish policemen. On 24th June I was put into a transport. The whole ghetto was emptied and everybody was entrained at the same time. Right before the entrainment they searched us thoroughly. Nurses of the Red Cross searched the women, in the most thorough way. We were taking many things with us, because the detective who checked us was a good acquaintance of my father. The others could take two changes of underwear, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 sets of clothing, bedclothes and food enough for two weeks with them. 86 people were put in a very small cattle car; we received some water at the start. I was allowed to go for water on the way. They also provided us with buckets to serve as toilets. At the departure, we got enough bread too; the Jewish council looked after all these. Some people said it was an exchange of prisoners, but the pessimists thought that they were taking us to die. We were travelling towards Kassa, where we saw that our way was leading to Poland. From this we concluded that nothing good was in store for us. The policemen escorting us were replaced by SS people in Kassa. Nobody escaped from our cattle car; my father was the commander of the cattle car, he told me that we arrived with nobody missing. During the journey, the SS men kept asking for leather wallets, leather belts, fountain pens, etc. They said they were taking us to work and we would be paid for it and the families would remain together. We arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau five days later around 10 o’clock in the morning. Young Polish men in striped clothes took us out of the cattle cars, but the men were made stand aside. We had to leave our baggage in the cattle cars. I was standing before the SS officer with my mother and my sister; he selected us immediately. The selection was mostly based on similarity, so the aim, in fact, was to separate the family members. I saw it that way, but others said the same. My sister was placed by me, more precisely in my group. My mother cried out after us desperately; my sister somehow managed to work her way to her, so they went to that side, from where nobody has ever came back. We saw the high voltage wires right on our arrival; one can imagine what an effect it had on us. Then we were taken to the disinfecting building where they cut our hair, they shaved us, took away all our belongings and they gave us a single summer dress instead of our clothes. Guards in arms escorted us to Camp B.3. 1,500 of us stayed in one block. This, in fact, was a penal camp, there were no berths, toilet or water pipes. We were lying on the floor on each other’s body without blankets. We stayed in that camp for three months; we did not work regularly, only carried the heavy cauldrons. We were cold most of the time and we were kneeling for hours for roll calls. We did not sleep much; the rooms were so crowded that we could hardly move. The provisions were: a quarter of a loaf of bread, black coffee or tea without sugar in the morning, dried vegetables at noon, which were completely inedible, sometimes some margarine or a thin slice of salami, a teaspoon of jam, sometimes 10 grams of tinned meat. I got typhus fever and was taken to the infirmary in August. There Dr Mengele put me in the "Durchgang" among dead and dying people, claiming that I was not able to work. A friend of mine from Szeged, Dr Klára Nagy, replaced me with a corpse after Dr Mengele’s selection, so the number of people was complete and he did not look for me. He was a radiantly beautiful man, he was always walking around wearing plenty of pomade. As far as we knew, he was in love with Klára Nagy. He checked the toilet very strictly, and the camp was very clean everywhere, which was only due to him. Once when they were taking us to the disinfecting building, we marched near the crematorium and an SS officer with a gun in his hand was standing at the fence of the crematorium. We were not allowed even to look in that direction. We saw moving figures through the hedge, the wind brought the smell of burned flesh and bones to us. Later in the lager of Berdichev I met a young Jew who had worked in the crematorium; he told me that the crematorium was a building similar to a bath and the gas was let into the room through the showers. The people were given a towel and soap beforehand, music was played, they played the Blue Danube Waltz and at every tenth beat they shot somebody dead, right on the spot in the hall of the bathhouse. They pulled up the corpses with a pulley. Jewish physicians were appointed to take out the corpses’ gold teeth; finally the corpses were taken to the crematorium. The roads were levelled with human ashes, sometimes the Jewish prisoners found smaller human bones too. Punishments occurred frequently at Appells. These Appells lasted for hours, while we had to be kneeling with enormous rubbles in our hands. We also had to do different exercises with the rubbles, like bouncing forward in a crouched position etc. Nobody could go out to the toilet during Appell and every woman suffered from serious diarrhoea, they had to relieve themselves on the spot for which they were cruelly beaten. It happened many times that we were standing there with bald heads in heavy rain, we were not allowed to put on a shawl. There was no regular work in the penal camp, that is why we were not tattooed either. Selections were made almost every day in September. We had to march naked in front of Dr Mengele in the open air, in the presence of soldiers. He looked at the stomach usually, if somebody was so thin that her stomach was hollow, he did not put her in the transport of labourers. He threw me out at the first selection, but the next selection, which happened one week later, I got in a transport of labourers at last. They took about 4,500 of us to Camp A, where we were standing 12 hours without a break. There they bathed us and I got a dress sized for a girl of about 12 years, wooden boots, underwear, (for the first time!), we got a loaf of bread, about 40 grams of margarine, 2 pieces of cheese and they entrained us. 70 people were travelling in a cattle car. The SS men escorted us to the toilet at the train stations. We arrived in Bergen-Belsen at the end of a four-day- long journey. We lived in tents there, we slept on straw on the ground, we had two wool blankets. That was the first time we got separate dishes to eat from, which, after the conditions in Auschwitz, was a very good feeling. We could bathe properly: we received towels and soap. They did not beat us and Appells were held only once a week. We did not work regularly. The provisions were edible, but very little. Later we got striped cloaks, but a month later they took them away from us, and gave us winter coats. Supplied like that, 1,500 of us were taken to Marklenberg, near Leipzig. The journey was four days long, 70 of us were travelling in a cattle car, supplied with more or less sufficient food. On our arrival, we found a labour camp, which was tidy and clean, where German workers had lived before us. The berths were clean, there were flush toilets and a bath hall with a fountain. I was working in the “Baukommando” for a month; we were pushing wheelbarrows weighing 70 kilos. The working time was 8 hours a day. The Scharführer beat us terribly at work. At the beginning the rations consisted of one third of a loaf of bread, tea for breakfast, one litre of edible soup for lunch and turnip soup in the evening. We got some margarine or jam as a Zulag. After the “Baukommando” I got to the Junkers airplane factory; I received overalls, under which there were no clothes and I lived all through the winter in a wooden barrack. The working time was 12 hours in day and night shifts. We had German overseers. The management of the factory usually showed the most goodwill towards the prisoners, they called the Lagerführer to account for the balding of heads and other punishments several times. The workers sometimes also gave us food in secret. We worked together with German civilians, but we were not allowed to contact them; we were continuously watched over by Aufseherins, but the workers were also kept an eye on and if somebody was noticed when talking with the German workers, it was reported to the Oberscharführer called Qunittel. Once an official of the factory gave a head shawl to one of the prisoners. It was strictly forbidden to wear shawls and they interrogated the girl to admit the shawl was from. The pro-Jewish official was reported against and the girl’s hair, which was beginning to grow, was cut in a way that a stripe was cut in the middle of her head. This girl was then, at the occasion of the Sunday Zählappell, pilloried and we had to march in front of her. These head shavings he repeated for every trifle. For example, if somebody wanted to have a somewhat more humane shape, she was punished. A girl from Kassa was sentenced to be locked up in a bunker for four days with bread and water, because she had bought some cigarettes for her soup ration. We worked for four days in that factory, where we were making parts of airplanes. One day we received an order that the factory had to be emptied, because the American troops were approaching. Still on the same evening, on 13th April, the SS drove us away in rows of five. We did not get any bread, all our food supplies for the journey consisted of turnips. We were marching with the SS men for two days. Meanwhile two comrades of mine collapsed from hunger and exhaustion; I managed to escape with two of my comrades to the forest. They fired after us and one of my woman comrades died, but they missed two of us, so we continued our way and joined an Aryan Polish transport. We lied then saying that we too were Aryans and we had come to Germany voluntarily. From there we went on foot to Meissen (the china factory had remained intact) and I met a Serbian prisoner of war who told me not to stroll along because it was impossible to march with such a big loss of weight, since I was 42 kilos, but stay there and wait for the Russians. My woman companion and I stayed there for a week and on 18th April the Russians arrived in the suburb of Meissen. That, of course, brought along a heavy bombing; we lived among fires and explosions of garnets, but the most important was that we had food. We marched from there escorted by a German man who took us to Radebeul II near Dresden, where we registered at the Germans, since there were still Germans there. We told them the same story that we were Aryans. We registered there wearing the uniforms of the Hitlerjugend, since our coats had become completely ragged on the way and our German companion had presented us the uniforms; naturally, he had not known that we were Jews. The German policemen were beside themselves in pleasure, because they had never seen Hungarian girls and gave us ration cards and took us to a camp of foreigners where we received separate rooms and appropriate, good provisions. There we became acquainted with a Hungarian family, the sister of György Endresz, a pilot, who took us in and we lived there until the Russians came on 16th May. Then we admitted that we were Jews. We saw that our host and his family very much disliked the thing, so we left them. The Russian headquarters gave us the aristocratic villa with 12 rooms of the Nazi leaders. There were already three of us then; we found innumerable clothes and we lived on those during our journey all the way to Budapest. The Russians took us from Radebeul alternately by car and by train to Chernovitz, from there to Berdichev, then to Kiev. I worked as a nurse for the Russians; I got food and clothes. I lived quite a human life there, they invited us to their dancing parties, to cinema, and they showered us with kind consideration, everything nice. Russian officers brought 78 deported Hungarian Jews from different camps from Berdichev and 400 Arrow Cross men and ethnic Germans came along with them. We went to Hungary through Máramarossziget entering the country at Sátoraljaújhely. The congregation received us at the train station with food, with bread. We travelled all the way long in very high spirits, we intentionally did not think of what may be in store for us on our arrival home. So we arrived in Budapest. My plans for the future: I have not found my parents and my sister, so I am alone. I would like to find a position at the College of Physical Education.
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