Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irving Altus - June 2, 1982

March from Auschwitz

Did any run away at that time? Was it possible?

I don't know if you could. Maybe some did. Because some people, they took us through Czechosłowacki because where I--were Pole you know, some around there. Theresienstadt, you know, Czecho...uh, some Czech were with us, Jews or Gentiles. They knew where they were. And if they had a chance, I mean, they could make it. If they had the strength too, because like I say, at night or whatever. So probably some of them did run away.

And where were they taking you these five months? Did--you didn't work after that, you were just on the march for the five months?

On the march ??? nothing fast, no work. They didn't know, they didn't know where they're going. I think this was a day-to-day schedule from the high off...whatever. Where they, where could they go? No place to go.

So you were never in any camps after that, you were just sleeping outside in the road?

They did drag us into some camps, so it took a day or two and then they had to leave there. They thought maybe there--and, and the thing you know, the way they were talking, they, they wanted to, to make the Final Solution with those things, but they, they didn't have time to finish us off too. They wanted to get rid of us, it was their plans. But I think, I think they couldn't do it.

Why was that?

Because they didn't have the place, they didn't want to shoot you in the streets so the German people should see or whatever. It was, what are they going do? There's no crematorium you know, now--to leave people on the road or whatever. You are marching in Germany and in Czechosłowacki or, or whatever you go through for the Poles, they probably didn't care, but they claim uh, half the people didn't know what, what's going on. If it's true or not. I, I really don't know, I wouldn't make a statement. I think plenty German families knew.

Did the one who worked in the cement...

Of course.

Did Germans work in the cement factory as well?

Uh, not--whoever was a prisoner, yes.

But I'm saying non-prisoners.

No. They had only four mens which yeah, the thing, yeah. No, some civilians who used to live there before the war. I think like uh, they were not Polacks you know, Volks... you know what a Volksdeutsch like, a German who lived in Poland, you know. Or in any other country, so. But they were there for--before the war, because after all it was a big factory, they knew how to run it you know, it had to be skilled. So they used to take care and they used to do the dirty work and...

And they knew.

Yes, they knew, they knew. Sure they knew. I would never uh, let anybody believe that they--of course, maybe ten percent, I don't know, twenty percent didn't know. Eighty percent they knew exactly what was going on.

Were there any differences between the Wehrmacht guards and the SS guards?

A big difference. They were different people. They did not do--came there to harm us or, or... Entirely difference, a big difference, personally. They watched the people, you did the job, for no reason they wouldn't do nothing to you. For the same thing the SS, if he wants to have a cake or have a, a, a treat, like you have an ice cream, he could take the gun and shoot somebody. That's it. That's the difference. And this is true. I saw it with my own eyes. On the job, on the thing when we went, you know. For no reason.

That's why you say you were lucky and that not only...

Just lu...I don't know, just lucky. I m...I don't know, really. Just lucky.

But it stopped...

It was...

...you're saying in '44.

That's what I say. But for no reason they went around shooting people. For no reason. You didn't walk straight, you, you walked too fast, you walked too s... No reason.

When you were marching now in, in '45...

In '45 they--if you couldn't walk, I don't know what happened. Either they shot him or they just left them or they, they stepped on them, whatever but. But it wasn't you know, like to take them and walk with them. You couldn't walk, they would left you there and that's it. You die. You didn't have the strength to get up and where, where was you, in the middle of nowhere. Who would come to you, who will pick you up, who'll give you anything.

You had no food.

So, I think the people were there just--was laying there in a day or two or an hour, who knows, I me. No.

What happened when you were liberated? How did that come about?

I was liberated in Theresienstadt. Like I say, this is in Czechosłowacki.

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