Protocol Nr. 3645

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Name: L. Á.
Gender: male
Place of birth: Budapest
Date of birth: 1920
Place of residence: Budapest
Occupation: teacher, painter
Camps: Auschwitz, Reichenbach, Frautenau, Posta, Westfalica, Fallersleben, Salzwedel

The person in question has given us the following information: On July 3, 1944, returning home from the Meister soap factory (where I worked as a military factory worker) I got off the tram at Soroksári Road and unfortunately ran into a policeman rounding up people with yellow stars. I have to mention that on the same day five more people who lived in my building (122 Arena Road) were also arrested, of whom only one man returned after the deportation. From the tram station we were taken to the Military Academy and we were put into a room with a railed entrance: the stable of sick horses. Men and women were together here. We were strictly searched in the course of which everything (purse, etc.) was taken away except our clothes. Red Cross nurses searched the women’s vagina. We spent 24 hours here and during this time we did not get any food; water was distributed in a bucket that had been used to give water to the horses. There were approximately 300 of us here; all of us were rounded up in the same way. Ours was the first group, but on the same day another two groups arrived. Water was pouring into the stables. Of course we were locked up for the night, a machine gun was pointed at us and a gendarme with bayonet was walking up and down. The next day at around 2 pm more gendarmes showed up. We were ordered to straighten up. This meant to pick up pieces of papers from the bottom of one strut and take it to the other. Later we were lined up in the yard. In the dead silence we overheard one of the gendarmes saying to the other: “use machine gun”. Just for the sheer fun they clicked the machine guns: we thought we would be shot down right on spot. Then we marched out of the yard walking through Ferencváros; at Csont Street we turned towards the Danube. A military boat was already waiting for us there and we were escorted on board. The boat was not leaving immediately and we were staying there until late at night. Somehow the National Hungarian Jewish Aid Action must have been informed about us, since shortly its employees showed up and distributed bread and jam. On the same evening additional groups boarded the boat, for example people from Tétény coming from military work, but they were not of labour service age, but younger and older than that. Later another group arrived: military workers from the Weisz Manfréd factories. It seemed that we were waiting for them, since we left immediately after they got on. We anchored at Pünkösdfürdő in the drizzling rain. We walked into a place that later turned out to be the Budakalász brick factory. We did not know where we were, but we smelled the terrible stench. We thought we were on a pig farm, but later we learned that the smell came from the large amount of people arriving prior to us (latrine). We could accommodate ourselves only outdoors, since the covered places were all occupied. Seeking shelter from the rain we tried to fabricate a sleeping place from bricks. People were lying all in a heap. The Jews of Újpest, Rákospalota, Kispest, Pestszentlőrinc and other settlements around Budapest were concentrated here. The conditions were indescribable. It is characteristic of the hygienic conditions that three of us bathed ourselves with a half of a glass of water and some water was even left. The most horrifying place in the brick factory was the so-called “hospital”. It was a closed place of the yard where the sick and the elderly were lying outdoors in the glazing sun. When one of them died, the body was simply thrown over the wire fence and the corpses were collected like this; the smell was terrible. The so-called “latrine” is also worth mentioning. Once I was queuing up for hours in front of it, but I could not get in. There were only two latrines opposite to each other for the immense, 30,000-strong mass: one for men, the other for women. There was a hill opposite to the latrine from where the gendarmes took pictures of people using the latrine. In general the camp was a bedlam. Once in a while people showed up with cauldrons and distributed some soup which actually was dirty, hot water. We spent three days here and left with the first transport. We were virtually relieved to leave. There were 70-80 of us in one cattle car; I do not remember the number of the cars. When leaving all of us received a 2-kilogram loaf of bread: I think it was also the result of the work of the National Hungarian Jewish Aid Action. We did not get water, but could acquire some later during the travel. The bread was inedible, since it had gone bad in the heat. I would not say that we were starving, since the heat and the stress took our appetite away; the only thing I could eat was jam. People coming from the neighbouring ghettos had some food left and they shared their reserves with us. Gendarmes escorted us to Kassa and from there the SS guarded us. We did not know where we were actually going. We were constantly guessing: the general assumption was that we were heading to a work camp in Hungary. It is typical of our sense of time and our state of mind that some people thought they recognised the border in the dark, but it turned out that we were only at the Ferencváros railway station. Once in a while our guards shouted at us and ordered us to hand all of our values to them; at such times pens, knives and other smaller objects came to light. One of my fellow passengers was Arthur Gedő, a quite well-known philologist and translator who used to be a professor at a German university. He was entertaining us with translated poems on the way. He was quite an intense person. Already in the first night, when the train was stationed at the Ferencváros railway station, he acted very weird. As it is widely known, toilet did not exist on cattle cars used for deportations and we used various pots for this purpose. The content had to be poured out of the small window of the car or through the crack of the door. The pot, of course, was handed over from one person to another while the train was moving. In the pitch dark, when the pot reached his hand, he started to shout: “Murderers, you trapped me in this artificial diving bell and now you want to poison me with some brown liquid”. It was bloodcurdling. He was getting near the door. The train was standing at the Ferencváros railway station and he shouted to the gendarmes that there were murderers in the cattle car. We were terribly afraid that the gendarmes would enter the car and make order. But nothing happened except that he was slapped in the face with a rubber truncheon and then he apologized from us in French. I remember one more sad incident during the travel. Two people went insane: one on the first night, the second on the last. The latter was a deaf, old gentleman. The poor man was constantly pushed out when people were elbowing their ways; he was complaining about that. He was louder and louder; all of a sudden somebody started to shout that he was having a knife. Panic broke out and everybody tried to get away from him in that terribly crammed space. Chaos broke loose and they started to beat him. It was quiet for an hour and then the whole thing started again. People started to beat him with boots and flasks and when he fell on the ground they thought he was dead. Then they started to deliver burial ceremonies, but he opened his eyes and asked for some water. After almost four terrible days we arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau in the morning of July 9. The picture we saw was desolate. The train was stationed there for a long time before finally the doors were opened. We were happy to get out to the fresh air. Well-built young men showed up at the cattle cars with suntanned faces and in striped uniforms. They wore triangles of various colours on their left arms, the significance of which we did not know yet. They opened up the doors of the cattle cars. The luggage were loaded off the cars and piled up next to them. Then we had to line up in rows of five, men and women separately. We were separated from the men right away; the women had to walk on a straight road towards the interior of the camp. At the crossroads opposite to us stood a fat, high-ranking SS officer with a friendly expression on his face and he sent the people arriving to the right or the left with a motion of his thumb. We, who were sent to the right, were walking inside the camp in the glazing sun. The road was bordered by electric barbed wire fence on both sides. There were barracks everywhere, but we did not see a soul; there must have been a block curfew as later we learned. We arrived at the so-called bath. We took off all our clothes in the entrance hall and in another room we got a lot of drinking water. The young girls and men working there were well-fed and were in a good mood. In the next room our hair was cropped, we were epilated and our heads were washed with paraffin. All these events took place in a split second. Afterwards all the good shoes were taken away from the owners. Then we were taken to the shower room. We dried off as we were walking through the next, warm room. A woman from the right gave us skirts, another from the left handed over a pyjama coat. As we passed another woman she painted a big red stripe on our backs. In the course of half an hour we ceased to be humans: not even relatives or close acquaintances recognised each other. We were lined up and crossing a long road we were driven to camp C. From all directions similarly bold and semi-bold women approached us and tried to consulate us saying that it is endurable, but we have to eat everything; they also asked where we came from. This had the most depressing effect on us. Afterwards we were counted and then we sat down in the shade next to the wall and waited. In the evening 1500 women were taken to block 25. We did not get anything to eat on this first day. There were no beds: we were sitting on blankets on the ground; we were sitting so tight the only way we could sit was in each other’s laps. The whole night was spent with fighting, screaming and crying. In the morning, when the door of the barrack was opened up, I was glad to take a rest after the ordeals of the night. I spent only four days in camp C. During one of the selections they asked if any of us was proficient in agricultural work. I sign up, since I thought that working outdoors was better than my current situation. We had to march in front of the SS doctors and officers naked, with raised arms and they assessed us. Those found apt for works were taken to the bath where we got some clothes: this time panties and petticoats. We were transferred to the Czech camp, to barrack 16. I was quite lucky, since after approximately a week I was transferred to the office and I was spared here almost my whole stay in Auschwitz here. Our task was to administer the Czech camp: we kept the transport lists by names and numbers. Moreover if a new transport arrived we set up registry cards. We also had to keep a list of those transports that were not assigned to work, but were selected for the crematorium. These lists were titled: "Liste der Sonderbehandlung" (lists of the special treatment) . There was a ledger-like book, titled "Nummerbuch" (number book) which contained all the prisoner numbers. There was a box next to the numbers into which we wrote the camp and the block number. If the given person left with a transport, a “T” was written into the box and if he or she was sent to the gas, then we used “SB”. It happened around the end of November that Kramer, the commander of the camp showed up. He was shouting at us that he had already told us that this abbreviation had to disappear from the books. Instead we would have to write a simple cross next to the number as in the case of those who died normally. In the second half of November the office of the women’s camp was transferred to us when the two camps were merged. Then I was out of the office. This was quite inconvenient, since I became a simple “reserve prisoner”, i.e., I did not belong to any of the work units. I had to leave the warm office. Being assigned to an out-of-camp work unit was not desirable at all. Every morning after the roll call, still in pitch darkness, people were kicked out of the camp. One day soon I was selected for a transport that was quite promising, since a civilian selected the prisoners. I signed up and I managed to leave for Reichenbach with a hundred other prisoners on December 13. Fifty of us travelled in one cattle car: 50 girls from the Kanadakommando and fifty were selected from the Czech camp. We had enough food for the two-day-long travel. Arriving to Reichenbach we were accommodated in the Telefunken factory. There were two camps there: one in close proximity to the factory. This was the smaller one and there were predominantly Dutch Jews here: approximately 300 Dutch and 60 Hungarian women. The other was outside the town in the so called “sports school”; I was taken there. There were not only prisoners working in the Telefunken factory here, but also workers from the Schiling, Hageneck and Lehmann factories. There were men here also; there was a strip of hair left on the top of their heads. In the beginning food supply was not bad, but later it heavily deteriorated. At first we got soup at noon and in the evening, plus 30 decagrams of bread and also jam. Later we got soup only once a day, the bread rations got smaller and Zulag was skipped too. We worked from 6 am to 6:30 pm which included the one-hour-long march to and from the factory. There were night and day shifts but I worked only during the day. Although the treatment at work was much more humane than in Auschwitz, we were beaten here as well. Once in a while during the breaks we met the men. Since it was not allowed to talk to them, many times they just placed a package next to the water tap and pointed at it suggesting that we should grab it. There was bread or some other type of food in the packages. We worked with civilians too; it was pleasant, since this way we could be informed about what was going on in the outside world. I would not say that women stuck together, that was more typical of the men. There were many fights; they stole each other’s blankets and hid them under their own straw mattress. We lay in terribly narrow bed: two persons in one. At around the end of February the city became war zone because of the Russian approach. The work in the factory was stopped and restarted over and over again. The streets were filled with escaping German caravans heading west. On February 18 all prisoners of the Telefunken factory camp were set off on foot. There were approximately a thousand of us, all women. We walked for four days; all we got was a loaf of bread weighing 1.2 kilograms. On the first night we were accommodated in a coalmine in Neuroden; we spent the second night in a barn of a cottage and then the third one in Niederadelsbach, a beautiful little town. We met French and English POWs here. They were very kind to us: they distributed their suppers among us. We learned a lot from them on the status of the war. On the whole way we met escaping German groups proceeding in the same direction as we did. It was a truly interesting picture. All the trains were running westbound; they were carrying soldiers and weapons. Prisoners were also driven into that direction wherever we marched. The Soviet POWs had huge “SU” signs painted on their backs. On the evening of the fourth day we arrived in Trautenau (in the Sudeten). We were put into a factory destroyed by the bombardments and we were not allowed to exit for four days. It was a filthy, disgusting camp; it was teeming with lice. Polish prisoners ruled the place, even the kitchen. Here I received the smallest amount of food during my camp life: half a litre of dirty water soup in the morning with potato peels here and there. In the afternoon we got five decagrams of bread and three or four pieces of potato in the evening. That was all. The roughest part of our escape started only here. We were put onto open coal carts on February 22 in the depths of winter. We had quite nice weather during the first days of our travel, therefore we did not find it very tragic that we had no roof above our heads, but later it became very cold and it was snowing and raining. Sixty of us were crammed into one small car. Everything was covered with soot and dirt; washing ourselves was of course out of the question. During the night there was a constant fighting for room. There were awful scenes; many wanted to jump out. A few freight cars were attached to our train filled with men heading to Bergen-Belsen. This happened in the evening and we thought we arrived, so everybody left their places they were fighting for so hard, but then the SS told us that we would not get off. Of course, when we learnt that, the fight for the room started all over again. It was a horrible night. At one of the stations we met Hungarian leventes. We started to chat with them: we were happy to meet Hungarians. They did not know either where they were taken, they said probably Denmark. They did not comment whatsoever on what happened to us. We asked them about the Hungarian political situation: who is in charge, etc. They said: “well, it’s Szálasi”. By then the Arrow Cross ruled only the territories west to the Danube, but they did not know anything either. The only pleasure we had during the travel was to see the German cities destroyed. After six days we arrived in Porta-Westfalica. This happened on March 3. The travel exhausted the whole transport. We marched through the city and then up to a mountain. The road seemed endless: we were almost on the top and still did not see the camp. All of a sudden an air raid hit us, so we could not get out of the woods and we were standing under the trees. When the air raid was over, we arrived at this newly built camp that was constructed especially for us. We occupied our beds; of course this did not happen without more fights. Two of us slept in one bed. Everything went well in the beginning: we got blankets, bowls, spoons – the only thing missing was food. Later the kitchen started to operate, but the water supply was very poor: if they cooked, it was impossible to wash ourselves and the water taps were closed down. Bathing time was a half hour twice a day, therefore washing ourselves was dangerous. Not everyone worked here; not much labour force was needed here. We worked in a factory similar to Telefunken. The factory was located inside the mountain, in a totally a bomb-proof area. The whole factory was very interesting: the entrance was like that of a cave train, the work halls were located in clefts, the whole complex was seven-story-deep in the ground. Most of the machines were made by Phillips which made people working with us quite happy. Work basically meant going to the workshop at 7 am, sitting there for an hour, chatting, doing nothing. There was no material to work with and if there was a supervision in the factory, the foremen got all excited and handed us finished pipes and ordered us to pretend working on them. There were three shifts; the night-shift crew spent the night in the factory. Young little girls spent days and nights underground and they did not even know when it was day or night. These 14-17-year-old little girls were quite naive: they were so proud that they were considered the best female workers in Germany. It was very interesting: the sleeves of their dresses were painted to different colours and there were yellow crosses on them as well. Soon they put the yellow cross on us too. The Dutch, Belgian and French Aryans who worked with us had a yellow “X” painted on their backs, the Jews a yellow “+”. There was no other difference. There were capacity exams in the factory: they were testing our sight and our manual skills. Workers were assigned according to the results. After three days of intensive working the activities stopped again. Food was so scarce here that we picked up potato peels and ate them. We could not leave the camp, since we were to be set off any moment. This moment came on April 1, Easter Sunday. Approximately 1000 of us left: half of the transport constituted of Dutch Jews and some Dutch, French and Belgian Aryans; the rest were Hungarian Jewish women. We were entrained. We travelled relatively conveniently, 60 of is in a car, but we have not received anything to eat during the whole trip. We arrived in Fallersleben on April 3. The whole transport was not taken there: only 333 people were picked out from the cars; it was blind fate who stayed and who had to go. When we arrived we were driven into a bunker through a narrow tunnel. All of a sudden the crowd started to flow back in terrible chaos; everybody was running to where we came from. Horrible panic broke out. It soon turned out that the white tiles of the corridor scared people, since the whole place resembled a gas chamber. The SS immediately realised what happened and calmed down the crowd. We spent only five days in the Fallersleben camp under relatively normal circumstances. The camp consisted of more than one room on the ground floor of a car factory destroyed by air raids. We found Hungarian Jews in this camp and ca. 100 political prisoners, partly Hungarians and partly Yugoslavs. Besides the good food supply, the best thing here was the permanent access to cold and hot water and the central heating worked as well. Our main source of amusement was bathing and we did not have anything else to do. Only the old prisoners went to work to the factory; they also cleared rubble. After five days we had to pack up. This happened so fast that not even the SS was forewarned. I think if we had been smarter, we could have stayed there and thus liberation would have come earlier. By that time chaos had prevailed. We were set off again; there were ca. 1500 of us and in two days we arrived in Salzwedel. The circumstances were terrible: the camp was filthy and the toilet and the bathroom were almost unapproachable. The accommodation and the food supply were also very bad. We were lying all in a heap and there were a lot of people full of lice. Fortunately we did not stay here for too long, since on April 14 the American troops liberated us. There were 1500 new prisoners in our camp, but there were French, Italians and Poles too: prisoners from all around Europe. There was a big chaos after the liberation. First the SS disappeared; the SS female overseers changed into civilian clothes and one vanished after the other. The commander stayed there for the last moment and had a paper undersigned with the Jewish prisoner supervisor that he had treated Jews well all the time. The prisoners stormed the city and the first thing we did was to rob the SS kitchen collecting everything edible and drinkable, so we upset our stomachs very badly. The Americans accommodated us in the beautiful palace of the Air Force Academy. Those who wanted to stay outside of the camp could. Thus me and my friend were living in the city until June 18. Three of us left individually, i.e., not with a transport. We travelled through Germany, via Nuremberg and Regensburg. We travelled on train and by car along the Danube for 18 days; finally we arrived in Budapest via Vienna and Sopron. My future plans? For the time being I would like to work here.
váltás magyarra