Auschwitz, the Nazi German Concentration and Extermination Camp, is where I lost my mother and sister and most of my extended family. My main memory of Auschwitz is that: firstly, we didn’t know it was Auschwitz. We were pushed out of the cattle cars after three days of traveling. They separated the men from the women and children. We were pushed to the end of the platform where a few of the SS stood, including one in a white coat. We didn’t know this was a selection. When Dr. Mengele in the white coat looked at you, he waved you left or right. He chose those who could work to go the right, and the others were taken to the left to the showers. In those showers, the victims were killed by gas and their bodies burned later that same evening. My father and I were chosen to work. We got undressed, were shaven, disinfected and given striped uniforms. We slept outside and the first food we got was the following noon, a big bowl of weak vegetable soup, a bowl for six men, but they wouldn’t give us a spoon because they said, “Jews are no better than dogs.” If you want to eat, eat like dogs. We were hungry enough that we did. During my imprisonment I often wished they would treat me as well as they treated their dogs, but they didn’t. I didn’t stay long in Auschwitz because they were looking for tradesmen. Since I couldn’t go to university in Hungary because of the anti-Jewish laws, I had trained as an electrician. My father said, “See, maybe they’ll treat you a little better.” So, I went. They grabbed me and put me in a cattle car. And I ended up in Warsaw. By then the Germans had established a concentration camp to clean up the rubble of the Ghetto after the uprising. My stay there was short-lived, because the Soviet Army was closing in. The Germans closed down the camp and took us on a Death March into Germany. Supposedly that was the first Death March of the Holocaust. Later I heard that were three or four hundred more of these forced marches during the war. Supposedly, we started out around 5900 men and arrived at Dachau less than 2000. From Dachau, after a couple of weeks, I was sent to Muhldorf, which was a new sub-camp set up to supply workers needed at an airplane factory. There our work was to carry 50 kilo cement bags from the railroad cars to the machines. It was physically grueling as well as dangerous: if you slipped on the ramp and fell into the wet cement, we weren’t allowed to pull you out…and you drowned.
My message for future generations is…
Something I found during an Italian vacation in the Venetian ghetto, where I found a plaque on one of the walls, with the names of the Venetian victims of the Holocaust, and underneath was a quotation saying, “We have to remember because our memories are their only graves”. My message is “Zahor, Remember.”
Who will be accompanying you on this journey?
My daughter, my son, two of my grandsons, one of my granddaughters and one of my grandsons’ wife with her mother I am lucky to have that part of the family come with me.