Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Ehrmann - May 13, 1983

Going to Warsaw After the Uprising

Now, you were there for three days, so they must have sent you to another camp or another labor camp?

They uh, on the third day or maybe it was the fourth day uh, we were told to line up again. There were tables out on the uh, open with people sitting behind the tables and writing and we were told to line up and go through those tables and we were told, they asked our number, and we were told we are going on a transport. "Where are we going?" "We don't know, you'll find out. Go, move on, next." We were then walked out of that camp to the railroad siding, loaded us on cattle cars again, and they moved us out. The first city we knew that we were passing through was Kraków. So, we knew we were going back into the same direction as we came from. We came through Kraków to Auschwitz. So, we were hoping we were going back to Hungary maybe. Uh, we asked the sentry who was with us and uh, he told us, "We don't know ourselves." We uh, were taken to Warsaw. The trip lasted--it was an overnight trip and uh, again we were met by more SS with shepherds and we were yelled on our way marching through one part of the city and we were led into the Warsaw ghetto uh, which at that point was already surrounded by a tall brick wall with barbed wire fence on the top of the wall and uh, brick watchtowers. And, uh...

Were you told of the rebellion?

We were told of the rebellion in the camp by other inmates already there. At that point, we met the inmates and uh, we were brought into the uh, camp that was to be our uh, living quarters for the rest of the stay in Warsaw.

Did you hear any stories about the, the rebels?

Yes uh, we were told stories just like we know it now. We were also told that some made it out. Uh, we were also told that some made it to Israel and at that point, we didn't know whether it was fabricated or they really got feedback from, through the Partisans. We were told that there are Partisan activities in the city and that from time to time they have contact with them. We were also told that within the ghetto--we were pointed out a building that was at the other end of the, of the ghetto, there was a tall building, prison called the Pawiak where they kept political prisoners, Polacks, and all kinds of other prisoners, but we have no contact with them. We were told by the prisoners that there is the Gestapo headquarters which is housed within the ghetto, they told us, showed us the building, which is adjacent to the camp, they told us about another uh, uh, camp, barracks, that the old camp they referred to uh, across the street that uh, was put up right after the uh, rebellion and housed prisoners who came then, older prisoners. Uh, we had contact with these prisoners in, in uh, work, at work.

The work you were doing, you were sent there to clear away...

We were sent there to clear the rubble and salvage whatever is salvageable material uh, building material, there is in those buildings. We were told that the last survivor of the uh, rebellion that they encountered was a seventeen-year-old girl who was shot on site as soon as she was brought up from basement. She was uh, incoherent, all gray hair and they, when they entered the basement, as they were cleaning the rubble, they found her father dead, decomposed already. And they found food in the basement. Uh, and we were told that other uh, survivors met similar fates uh, nobody got out alive from those uh, who they found. Uh, we were told about the struggle of the uh, people in the ghetto, about the uh, phosphorous bombs that were thrown at them. We were told about the uh, people who supposedly escaped uh, and they made it into, into the ranks of the Partisans on the outside uh, and, and that they have contact with those people. Then we were told about at least one person who they know they made it into Israel, or Palestine at that time. Uh, we were--we didn't have any formal contact with the outside world. Our only contact was, a matter of fact, a Polish foreman who was a resident of the city and he came in, he was employed by uh, a salvage company who bought uh, the bricks and uh, plumbing and uh, whatever salvageable material there was, from the Germans and transported it out into the city. Uh, he came every morning and left every evening after we went back to camp.

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