Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Szymon Binke - June 16, 1997

Transport to Auschwitz-Birkenau

So you, you suddenly find yourself on this, on the train.


It's a cattle car?


And who was with you in the cattle car?

My father, mother and my uncle.

Was your sister still...

Yes. Yeah, yeah, my sister, yes.

So the, the whole family.

That's right.

And what was it like in the cattle car?

Whew! Crowded.

Anything else?

No food, no water. Oh, wait a minute. They did give us--they g...they gave us some, some bread I guess bef...as we got on the uh, on the train. And my uncle, the youngest, my father's youngest brother asked, he was hungry, he wants, there's bread, he wants to eat. So my aunt, the oldest sister, not the oldest, the second oldest, you know from the second mother, she says, "Wait 'til we get there. Then we'll have lunch." Well, he, that's, that's, he never saw that loaf of bread and he still remembers it now that he didn't get to eat that slice of bread. Because...

So they gave you the slice of bread and any water?

No, I don't think so.

Did it smell bad in the car?

Oh yeah, yeah. Because it was crowded.

There was no toilet there.

No. You did the best you could.

Was there talking, crying?

Yeah. But we didn't, we didn't know where we were going. Like I told you uh, oh it must have been a month or so before all this, before this last uh, thing started. Uh, Biebow, he was the German head honcho of the ghetto and he held a speech right near our house on the corner of uh, Brzezinśka and Młynarska there was a open field, there was a lot of people and he said, he pointed to his chest, "As my name is Biebow, nothing bad'll happen to you." Here the Russians are coming. We could hear the Russian artillery. I guess they were in uh, near uh, Warsaw and we could hear 'em at night. He says, "They are coming and they'll kill you because you are uh, uh, working for the German uh, uh, war machine. We'll give you jobs in the uh, in, in Germany. You'll be taken care of," blah-blah-blah and all this and you know we believed him. So a lot of people even volunteered to, to, to uh, to go there.

Was this the "not a hair, not a hair on your head..."

That's it. Yeah. "Not a hair on your head will be touched." Yes. "As my name is Biebow." Hans Biebow, was it? Yeah.

This is just before you went.

Yeah. That was the last uh, just before the last uh, uh...

Okay. Let's, let's pause here for just a moment.


[interruption in interview]

When you heard Hans Biebow's speech...

Speech. Yes?

What did you think?

I was a kid. I believed him. I guess everybody else did.

Your father believed him too.

Yeah, but we still didn't volunteer. We didn't go.

You still hid.

Oh yeah, yeah.

Anything else about the train trip?

About the train?


Uh, yeah. My father, what I can remember. That's when I started to come to I guess uh, my father, you know, a cattle car has small windows high up. A little, probably two windows on each side, just enough for air. It's not, there's no glass, it's just an opening. And my dad used to, was pointing to who owns this farm, you know, as we were driving out of Łódź. He knew some of the people that owned the land. And uh, that's all I can remember. Then the next day we were in uh, Birkenau.

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