Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Marton Adler - July 13, 1989

Death of Father

Did your father?

Well, my, see, once we got to Dora, I see very little of my father because he worked at nights, and he was in a different barrack. The only time that I could maybe see him is when he came in from work, from work and I went to work, and it's not like oh, I'm going to work, you came from work. As he marched in and I marched out, I stationed myself on the outer left and he stationed himself on the, if he had that possibility not always, so he's come in I go out and I look hard enough, and so maybe I nodded or you know, so that's about it. And even that, you took a risk. So in Dora, in Dora, I seen my father one Sunday for about five minutes at the most, five minutes and the whole dialog was something like this--I risked my, my--I risked to go there but I didn't do him no favors or anything but I wanted to see him, and when he seen me the first thing he said to me in Jewish he said, "if you're gonna last this week, you'll do real good because you are pale like the wall." And he broke off a little sour piece of sour bread and he said, "here", he could have eaten 50 times that much. And I had to run back to my barrack because if they find one missing, on a day let's say nobody could leave from that barrack, I'm in big trouble. I'm in a barrack that I don't belong to and there is a guy missing in that barrack. So I ran right back to my barrack for hour whatever we need to do, like each morning, how did you each will you say you didn't think about your parents, you had to think in the morning say you work for Kommando 168, how do you know which is Kommando 168, one guy carried that stick. And on that it said the numbers so you had to look where 168 is. Like you here you're invited to a party you know what table you sit on. So now you got 168, everybody looks to that Kommando. Then you line them up. He knows how many numbers there are, God forbid one, one guy isn't there, you know. If he died, they know about it, I mean, so I didn't think of all these things and then in Dora, I got it in the store when he died there. He was shot over there. And I was say he was in, in Dora June the 19th he was killed according to the records. Official records of the Germans. He died at 11:00 at night. He was shot trying to escape. That is their official version. So now I'm going strictly back on time and dates, so maybe he was in Dora let's say at a most the way I see it three weeks. Not even that long.

How did you find out about that?

Find out what?

That your father had been shot, died?

That he died?


Okay, well, the way it was, was this. They would count you every day, twice. They would count you in the morning when you report to that Kommando, the work Kommando the number I told you. And at night they count you for the barrack. In the morning they count you for the work detail, if you reported for your work detail, cause you can only be three places, either that work detail, dead, or in the hospital. That's the only three places you could be. Or if you are trying to escape. So but anyway, those are the three places you could be. But at night now, they count everybody, no matter what work detail you worked at, it makes no difference any more. You're back in the camp, now they gotta count the barrack. So many people to the barrack, but before they count you, the Blockälteste, the elder of the barrack, he was a Czech, a Czech prisoner, he sorted you out to please the SS and what pleases them is order. The little ones in front and the taller heads in back. Five abreast, and one hand apart from each prisoner. So these are lined up properly, the little ones in front and those with bigger heads on back, it's easy for the SS men to check if this Blockälteste gives them the right report. Plus he's gotta line up all the people that died that day or were killed that day. They're lined up also, but they are, naturally they are dead, so they are lined up, oh, I think, their heads had to be at the end of our feet in the line up. So when the SS men comes, wait a while, just let me answer what you asked me, you said how did I find out. So we were sorted out like chess pieces, this man comes out to me he says, "listen you are from Volové aren't you?" "Yeah." "Well, do you know a guy by the name of Adler that they shot today?" And before it even sank in, before it even sank in, another guy is next to that guy, he says, "You idiot. That's the kid's father." Now this guy's taking over the conversation, his name was Mecklovich, he's in Israel, A Madan, he's from my home town, and he call, you know, maybe puts his hand on my shoulder and says, "look", as a matter of fact it's like saying uh, you gotta spot on your shirt, "remember one thing, if you ever get out of here, your father died Eruv Rosh Hodesh." That means the eve of the first day of the month of Tamuz, that's in the Jewish calendar. Which is the fourth month in the Jewish calendar. So that's how I found out. That's it and that was the end of it. Well, it was not a conversation, what will you do, because now we are sorted, we are sorted, he's not supposed to tell me that. And the other guy's not supposed to ask me questions, those are the--that's trivia. That's not for sub-humans to discuss things like that.

But you thought about it?

Not really, I mean, maybe I think about it now or ten years ago, but over there, no. Over there I didn't think. Over there I thought uh, to make sure that I don't get hit. That they don't beat me or maybe the soup should be a little bit thick or whatever. I just didn't think of it, I really didn't.

Did they tell you the circumstances of how he was shot?

I really don't know. Later on maybe I met a guy from Israel, they said they were working like in a quarry and he was hit. Maybe the guy tried to learn how to aim or maybe he was bored. I don't know. Maybe he was lucky, too. Maybe to work in that quarry there was a penal, a penal Kommando with all the dust going in his lungs and no food and without goggles, I don't know. I don't know. They would have died anyways.

The trip from Buchenwald to Dora, let's go back to that.

That trip in a way, `cause this is the first time I seen a city. We were transported with trucks, this is now in Germany, Buchenwald Weimar, that's right in the heart of Germany. Nordhausen and we weren't standing like we were going to a picnic. They had their rules, again the same way. It's the same way now, you spread your feet, except the truck you know, this thing shakes, it's not like a train. And you have an SS man right on the tailgate with a machine gun and you have this trampoline, but it's summer and there's some air on this thing, you're not locked in on a train car so you could see, I seen some buildings, I seen you know you're from a village seeing a city, but I didn't know that I'm being transported from Buchenwald to Dora Concentration camp, to another camp. I mean I didn't look at it that way. But when we came to Dora, we found out real fast what's happening there. They leaped on us with beatings and clubs beatings and then games they devised, if there's any doctors and lawyers here, step out, or office workers, this is a hard working camp but people that have training and office work, doctors, lawyers, we don't want you to do that hard work. There were a few smart people, they didn't step out, but a lot of them did. They had to clean latrines with their hands and they were beaten to death and God knows what. And then, they put us, the first night, the welcoming committee was, they didn't put us in bunks, they put us in a barrack, this new arrival, this thousand from 55,000 to how many the first day or the first few hours worked until I don't know, and they put us in this barrack, just straw, no food, no nothing, and all night long to amuse themselves, they had a search light on us, all night long, all night long. I was more tired in the morning than at night. So. So that was my trip from Buchenwald to Dora.

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