Protocol Nr. 3327

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Name: R. L.
Gender: male
Place of birth: Budapest
Date of birth: 1931
Place of residence: Pestújhely
Occupation: student
Ghetto: Budakalász
Camps: Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Melk, Günskirchen

The person in question has given us the following information: I lived in the suburbs of Budapest in Pestújhely with my parents in my grandfather’s little house with a garden. My father was an assistant in a shoe shop. We lived a peaceful and secure life. As a thirteen-year-old boy, the only child of my parents, I was still at school. In March 1944, as soon as the Germans invaded the country my father was captured in the street and interned in Kistarcsa. In April, local Jews had to move into starred houses designated for them. A few days later, they collected us from the starred houses, marched us to the railway station and entrained us. There was a tuberculosis sanatorium in Pestújhely, and they placed patients with TB together with healthy people in the same freight car. 72 of us travelled in a freight car and after a horrible night of travel we arrived in Budakalász the next morning. Here, in the brick factory 15,000 people were lodged, mostly Jews from the northern suburbs of Budapest: from Újpest, Rákospalota, Cinkota, etc. One of my uncles was appointed as foreman and also as head of the department of food supplies. Thanks to him, my mother and I had a good life. The 8th of July, they entrained us at the railway station of Budakalász, and we set off in the last transport. There were 3,000 people on the train. Thanks to my uncle, who was appointed also as commander of the freight car, we got into a car for families, where there were only 54 people. We were supplied with everything and could stay quite comfortably. The Hungarian National Jewish Aid Action sent us 15,000 loaves of bread, jam and cottage cheese for the journey, which was distributed among us. Hungarian gendarmes escorted us till Kassa, where they handed us over to the SS. During the journey they tried to make us believe that we would remain in the country, that the young would work and the old would take care of the children. We would get weekly salaries and have the opportunity to keep contact with our relatives in letters. We believed them; only when we crossed the Hungarian border did we realise what was happening and we already knew we were finished. The 11th of July, at 4 am we arrived in Auschwitz. Prisoners in striped clothes jumped in the freight cars and instructed us to get off fast, shouting that the “town was on fire,” we had to leave behind the luggage. The elderly and the children had to stand on the left side, while men and women were sent to the right side. I said good-bye to my mother, who was sent to the left side, and whom I have not seen ever since. My uncle pulled me close and I remained with him. Selections were done by Márton Zöldi who was in an SS uniform together with Feketehalmy-Czeydner who conducted the massacres in the area of Újvidék. After the selections we were led to the baths, where they took away all that I had, cut my hair off, and gave me striped clothes. There were 15 of us under the age of sixteen and we had to stand apart. After the bath we lined up in the yard and went into a block. I got into block no. 11 of the gipsy camp, where there were 1,200 of us; our block leader was a person called Ferenczi deported from Kassa. The following day, the series of early morning reveilles started, together with the roll calls that lasted hours. We were very close to the Carpathians. At dawn it was really cold and we suffered a lot from cold in our light clothes. The third day, my uncle crossed the block shouting my name and he found me. Afterwards, we met every day. Later, two of our friends from Pestújhely got into the kitchen, who brought us food several times. Another uncle of mine got into the kitchen working in the night shift, while the uncle with whom I travelled was assigned the job of a smith in the Hollwagen warehouse, in the machine center, so they could both help me. Seven of us underage boys got into the kitchen. Selections started also in the block and among my seven friends with whom I was in the kitchen only I survived. I was a pale and thin child and it was thanks to my uncle that I was not sent to the gas chamber. When the first time they selected us we did not know what was the point, we did not even think of the gas chamber. The only thing we knew was that selected people were locked in a separate block. At the second selections we more or less knew what it was about but still did not regard it seriously enough. Selections were always before roll calls. These times my uncle came to fetch me and took me into the store and hid me. After selections I went back to the block for the roll call. During the second selections 5,000 young children, who had arrived in the meantime with various transports, were sent into the gas chamber. I managed to avoid the third selections, which was the most severe, with the help of my uncle who hid me in the store in a case, and after selections a Blockälteste, who loved children a lot, and also money, helped me slide back into the block. Each of the three selections was on Jewish main holidays, the first on New Years Day (Rosh Hashanah), the second on Yom Kippur, and the third on Hanukkah. Soon after the last selections great transports left the camp, which started to be evacuated. I still stayed together with my two uncles but not for long because soon they were selected for the labourers’ camp “D,” and both were taken to Landberg. I was separated from them on the third of November and remained on my own. On the 4th, Dr Mengele entered and told us that we either go out to work or else we know what was awaiting us … naturally, we applied for work. I got into an Aussenkommando. We unloaded potatoes from wagons, carried them to the fields and put them in pits. I could not physically stand this work for more than a week, since I was very weak. I told the Schreiber to do something in my interest, because I felt I would collapse if I had to continue. I got into the children’s block, from where we did not need to go out to work. This was block no. 29, from which later I was moved into block 11, which had been earlier the block of the Sonderkommando. It was a closed block from which children were not allowed to go out. When on the 19th of January 1945 Auschwitz was evacuated, we had to leave. After four days of a very difficult walk, they put us on a train, 130 people in each open wagon, and we arrived in Mauthausen four days later. We got a kilo of bread, a kilo of canned meat and 100 grams of margarine for the journey. We suffered a lot during the travel, there were great snowstorms and we got off the train numbed by the cold. One of my feet was broken because of the four-day walk and I hardly could walk. In Mauthausen they led us into the baths, where we had to completely undress again; we got clean shirts, underwear and they put us up in a block that was much smaller than the blocks in Auschwitz, where 1,200 stayed hunched up. Young children were separated here from the rest and the SS did not call them “Jude” but “Junge.” Two days later, I left Mauthausen for Melk with a transport of labourers. I got into the squad of potato peelers. Later, they took me to work. We constructed a subterranean factory. Towards the end they put explosives at the entrance and that was how we worked there. At the end of March, they took me back to Mauthausen from Melk, where they bathed me and put me in quarantine in block 3, and later in the tent camp. A week later we marched to Gunskirchen in three days, where children immediately got charity packages, while only 20 adults could share one pack. After a week’s stay in Gunskirchen, on the 4th of May 1945, Americans entered the country and liberated us. After the liberation we went to Wels, where I lived in houses of civilians for three weeks before I fell ill. I had 40 degree Celsius temperature, and they took me to a sanatorium in Schallerbach, where I lay for 3 months. When I recovered I got back to the area of Gunskirchen again, we were lodged in a collecting camp, where we had excellent supplies, and I stayed there until lately, till I returned home with a transport that set off in the beginning of October. At home I received the sad news that my father, whom I have not seen since his internment, had died, but I found my grandparents and 3 of my uncles alive, who received me happily and I became their favourite. As soon as I arrived home, my grandparents enrolled me in school, where I will continue my studies from tomorrow.
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