Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Marton Adler - July 13, 1989

The Ghetto at Sokirnitsa

This is like a ghetto, where they put you?

Yeah. That's where the ghetto was. This little house, I mean little homes from where the non-Jewish peasants lived.

How many people were with you in that home?

Oh, in ours let's say for instance we were three families, and three families in one little house, but again because of the weather, we slept outside, too. That's when we got there. In fact I remember it was on a Friday night like. They brought us, maybe they started us on a Tuesday, and Friday they brought us already to the ghetto. And in that ghetto they had a kitchen, a soup kitchen, once a day they'd give you soup. Two of them bring, because there's still some food that we had with us, our own food. From our homes.

All right, so they...

My mother is still pregnant now, she didn't have the baby.

Didn't have the baby, did they put you to work?

Well, no, no, no, they didn't do anything, from what I gather now is what they did is they, they um, in other words, prepared us when they'll have that train ready with so many box cars, 60 or 70 or 80 whatever, and then they'll emp...just like they emptied out the village into the ghetto, now they let the ghetto out into the box cars.

So there was a railroad at Sokirnitsa?


A train station.


But not...

All night long, it was all day. Every 24 hours maybe two or three trains pass with these people from different areas that went to Poland to Auschwitz.

What did you think when you saw the trains?

Well, I just seen people going by, I didn't know where or what, but in my mind, or with the way the older people thought that we'll end up on a train like that too. That will be our next move. That's where we will be. But again, what did you do all day long they would, I mean you didn't sit around and play cards or read books, they found work for you. You had to do this, clean uh, river, ravines, or do this or do that, they kept you busy and uh then at night even if you slept outside or inside, it was cramped, so it's like, let's put it this way, it's like waiting for a plane and the plane is already three hours late. You just wait, you know, you're just waiting for something. I mean you're not anticipating, but you're anticipating trouble.

Were you frightened?

No, not really. Not really, I mean not because I'm a hero, I mean I wasn't frightened. Like even here in this country, I've been held up twice. I wasn't really that scared, not because, it's just by now, no I wasn't frightened. Cause we were together. It's gonna happen to everybody, it will happen to me.

Did you talk to your siblings?

No, no, no. Because my next to me was with my aunt. And the one next is born in '33. Four years and I mean we were all there, it's like okay, let's say somebody dies, all right they come to visit, or the visitors they talk. But talking to the person that something bad happened to him, he say very little. And that's what actually what it was. We were waiting for our own deaths. We were waiting, we didn't know, I didn't know about Auschwitz or anything, we expected to be massacred at any time. And when they finally took us to that station, took us, they gave a notice the night before that again this morning you gotta get ready again. In front of your hut, you know in front of the house, already in the ghetto, and um, and now we seen though the night before, some detachments came in, SS, this is the first time I seen, they look like Gods, all clean uniforms, in formation they marched and all that with the helmets on and with the machine guns and we didn't know what's gonna happen tomorrow morning we gotta be in front. So when the morning came they made us run: Go! If you were in the middle, if you drink a glass of water, you couldn't even finish sipping it, finishing it. Whatever you were did, whether you were in the bathroom, or you were half naked, out and you had to run and those that couldn't keep up pace, and really that's the truth, were shot. From there to the station there was corpses and the guys that couldn't walk out fast, well they were sick, they were shot on the spot. Everybody had to run to that place where the station was. Where the train was, let's put it this way. Where the train was. I didn't see no station or no conductor, there was a long train on top of the train there was on each box car or on each second box car there was a SS with a machine gun and there was SS with machine guns around, in the areas where people came and all I know is this, that the grownups took out their prayer books and they started praying, not to pray that the bullets shouldn't hit them, or to pray the SS should change their mind, they actually said their last rites, they knew this is it, we gonna be machined gun here, they got machine guns on top of the trains, empty box cars, what else are they gonna do with us here when they already shot guys on the way and that's it. And as far as talking, I talked to you now already, way more than I talked through the whole thing including even the year in the camps. There was no talk.

Had you ever seen dead bodies before?

Let me say this. If I would have one good year, one good month for each dead body I've seen, I'd live a long time.

But up to that point.

Oh, up to that point. No, up to that point I only seen my grandmother, she died. She was bedridden and she died, and she knew she was gonna die, and she took us to her bed and she blessed us, one by one, and the next day she died. That's the first time I seen a dead person and in my mind, I remember my mother says, "you know, it's raining now, my mother's cold," and at that point, at that time, I um, I really thought of a dead person as a live person, that's the way we were taught that their soul goes to God and that's the way I understood that at the time, but I mean, I didn't think of the dying as like the ultimate thing. I mean, I'm just saying, but it didn't, plus there were, I heard about these atrocities that these people suffered before they were killed, you know.

But now you were seeing it, do you remember what you felt like when you were running through the street and you heard shots?

Well, I felt good that I wasn't shot. That's all, I mean, to be honest, not to be a hypocrite, I just, I just felt good that I, that I run fast enough that I'm here.

And your whole family made it to the train?

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

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