Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Ehrmann - May 13, 1983

Escaped from Concentration Camp

Were there any other people who um, you knew who were taken on a transport and maybe returned, anyone who was uh, escaped from the train or escaped from the camp?

Yes, there was one man in particular who lived in my grandparents' hometown in Slovakia. He was taken away from his family and uh, he was taken to Lublin, Majdanek and he escaped from Lublin. Uh, he came home and uh, ultimately on his way uh, to looking, looking for his family, he came by our house, our hometown, and he told us his story. He told us that he came home uh, in the wee hours of the morning. He knocked on his bedroom window. Uh, instead of opening the bedroom window, the third or fourth window down the uh, sidewalk opened up and he saw the sleepy head of the, a police chief looking out. He immediately grasped the situation, he knew the police chief moved into his house and his family is not there. He, of course, assumed the worst and uh, acted as drunk and disappeared uh, crossed the border into Hungary, came into uh, uh, that town where I, where my cousin lived, the one who went to London. Uh, his uh, brother had married one of my cousins uh, from that town so he went, that was his first stop where he went and he found out that his family, his wife and, and children, are really in Hungary, so that's how he came to us. And he told us this story. Well, we saw him off on his way to his wife uh, we knew where his wife was also, what city, and uh, we saw him off, we gave him some money. When he left, I overheard my parents saying, "Well, you know that uh, Ernest always exaggerates."

What, what did they think he was exaggerating about, what stories did he tell you?

Uh, he told us that he was in a concentration camp. And to us the whole concept of a concentration camp was something unheard of. We never heard of anything like that. Uh, when we heard reports uh, of concentration camps uh, we imagined a prison like a prisoner-of-war camp and uh, we just couldn't understand why they would take Jews into prison camps for the fact that they're Jewish. And then he told us about it, that's where, where he was, we just dismissed it as exaggeration. He...

Did he describe what he saw? What he experienced?

They were talking at length with my parents, I don't recall uh, we were asked to leave the room when they got into discussions. But I did overhear my parents talking among, among themselves and saying that he is exaggerating. Whether they said it so that we can hear it and, and that we don't get scared, I don't know. Uh, I do know that the general attitude of the Hungarian Jews was, it is not true. It is not something that can happen to us.

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