Protocol Nr. 91
The person in question has given us the following information: There were approximately 11,000 Jews living in our city: mainly merchants and craftsmen. In general they lived under decent financial circumstances, but there were also some very poor families. I myself had a nicely furnished shop and two houses. The Hungarian authorities started the revision of the trade licenses on September 4, 1940. Of course, on March 19, 1944 the antisemitic decrees were introduced here too. The orders were issued by Mayor Dr. Béla Rátkay and the prefect and they were implemented by the gendarmerie and the Gestapo. Organising something, let alone resistance was out of the question. The Gentile population received all the decrees with great joy, since every decree brought them closer to their aim: obtaining Jewish wealth. For example I was practically still in my house when a baker, called Julián Bumbák, signed up for it and actually moved in. The members of the Jewish Council: Jenő Perl, Rosenstrausz and physician Dr. Krausz were quite weak. The Hungarian gendarmes acted brutally, the house searches were a common occurrence; they took away all the valuables and left us with 10 pengős each. At the end of April, around the 25th, the streets of the ghetto were designated. These streets were closed and gendarmes were ordered to guard them; keeping of the inner peace was the responsibility of the Jewish police. We could take only a few belongings to the ghetto; house searches intensified there. There were 11,000 Jews living in the ghetto. Men were taken from the ghetto to shovel coal and to work on railroad constructions. These were very hard physical tasks. The soup kitchen started to operate only in the last days, before that we ate what we had brought with ourselves into the ghetto. Our stay in the ghetto was so short that there was no starving. Our situation was completely uncertain: we did not know what would happen to us. In general we were told that we would be taken to work. A gendarme colonel, an old customer of mine (unfortunately I forgot his name) came to my shop and gave his word that we would not be taken out of the country only to Hortobágy to work. We believed it, since we wanted to believe it. As far as I know a few people tried to escape from the ghetto. There were lootings in the ghetto: our last 10-pengő bills were taken away by the gendarmes. One day we were woken up at 3 am and we were escorted to the synagogue. We stood here until evening without anything to eat or drink. Machine guns were set up and we were harassed and beaten. The famous rabbi Salamon Heller (he was 82) was beaten up with rifle butts because he wanted to go back to his flat for a little water. We were strictly searched in the synagogue too and the next day we were escorted to the station. We walked to the station; we could hardly take anything with us, only our clothes and not even food. They squeezed 70, 80,100 people into a cattle car. The members of the Jewish Council tried to get a couple of things into the cars, but they were separated from their families and thrown into the cattle cars as well. We travelled for five days. A five-months-old child died in our car and there were several deaths in the other cars too because of the hunger and thirst. We had no water bucket; we got some water at a few stations, but not much. The train was taken over by the Germans at Kassa, until there we were escorted by the gendarmes. Jewish labour servicemen gave us some water here. We were not even allowed to have a bucket for a toilet, only a pot for the kids. When at Kassa we saw the SS men, we knew what was happening; until then we thought we would be taken to Hortobágy. Our transport arrived in Auschwitz during the night. The station was illuminated and we were received by high-ranking German officers and prisoners. These latter prevented us from taking anything from the car; we even had to leave the kids’ pillows there. The able-bodied men were sent to the right in rows of five and the elderly and the sick were separated from them. The same happened to the women. First we were taken to the bath where we were completely epilated, our heads were shaven, our clothes were taken away and we got striped uniforms. My camp was an annihilation camp. Six people crowded onto one bed and used two thin blankets. We got some watery soup every other day and 15 decagrams of bread and two decagrams of liver paste on every third day. I spent five days in Auschwitz and then I was selected for work. I was transported to Upper Silesia, to Wolfsberg. We travelled for two days under SS escort. Wolfsberg is 200-300 kilometres from Auschwitz. The water and WC situation was terrible on the way. We were drilling a tunnel. Food was provided by the Organisation Todt; we were given decent amount of bread (70 decagrams), margarine and salami as Zulag. We also got soup at noon and in the evening and coffee too. We also got bacon, butter and even cigarettes. This relatively decent life lasted for five to six weeks and then came starving and misery. The construction was partially halted and the Organisation Todt retreated. After that the Wehrmacht provided us with food and this was worse. In general the foremen were worse too. On February 15 the camp was evacuated because of the Russian approach. Approximately 3000 prisoners were set off and 1300 Jewish labourers from Falkenburg were also attached to the group. We were set off on foot on a Thursday in the ugliest weather: we were hungry and had scant attire. On the first day we marched 35 kilometres to Friedland. It was a daily occurrence that Unterscharführer Hechs shot down those who were exhausted and lagged behind. A truck came behind the column and picked up the corpses. Those shot dead were actually lucky, since it happened that people were tortured and beaten to death with rubber truncheons. In many cases the SS just wounded people and loaded them alive onto the truck carrying the corpses. It took us 21 days to march to Friedland. We were lined up; we were standing there under the open sky and many froze to death. Nine people got a loaf of bread weighing one kilogram, but nothing else, not even water. We left here for Schönberg; this was a 20-30-kilometre march. We were supposed to be entrained in Trattenau, but since there were not enough freight cars, we stayed in Schönberg for 11 days. For three days we ate absolutely nothing, we did not even get water; many starved to death. Finally after three days we were given two and a half decilitres of soup, but we could get our share only through elbowing our way to the soup; people were beating each other and many who got blows on their heads died. After 14 days we were set off, of course on foot. An 18-kilometre-long march to Trattenau claimed a lot of victims; there was a lot of beating and very little medicine and food. In Trattenau 60-70-80 people were put into one freight car. We starved terribly on the way: 9-10 of us got one piece of bread weighing one kilogram every other day. Only 2000 people reached our destiny from the original 4300. By then the US troops had come close. Four hours prior to their arrival we were lined up by the camp commander and ordered to hide, since the enemy was approaching. His plan was to blow up the whole camp. We were informed by the Christian capos about their intentions and told them that if they wanted to kill us they should shoot us instead, but we were not going to the tunnel. Hearing this, the commander cancelled his plan and encouraged us to wait for the American troops. In the afternoon the American tanks actually arrived. Our trip via Vienna took four days. My future plans: if I am not lucky enough to find my family members, I would like to emigrate to Palestine.