Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001


Had you heard of Mauthausen?

We never heard of Mauthausen before. But we're uh, piling out of the train. They pull us out. They did give us something when we came out. And then we formed a very long line of, once again, five in each line eh, in hundreds. Just, always just the same thing. Twenty rows of five. And we faced the gate of the concentration camp, the, the Mauthausen. And we didn't know much about Mauthausen. Nobody knew about Mauthausen. However we knew it's--the word spread that this it's a concentration camp, the Germans were up and down near us. And eh, I think if you want positive thing, if you want to hear a positive thing.

All right.

Eh, I had pictures of my father, my mother. I had about six, seven pictures that were maybe two by two eh, maybe uh, size. And eh, I had them in my pocket at that time and, and I was looking at the pictures and crying because they said that we have to throw everything out, we're going to, we're going to throw everything out of our pockets. Everything we have to throw out before we go in. We were told, "Everyone has to throw everything out." I was looking at the picture, I was crying. A tall German, very tall, big, you know, one of these guys that you see sometime, the, the, the towering fellow, was very heavy. And he asked me what I have in my hands. I told him they are pictures of my family, I was crying. He took 'em from me, he looked at the pictures. And I don't remember what he said. He took the pictures from me. Of course I was crying a lot. But to make the point quickly, after I went through the, the gate later on, after I got my new uniform. He gave me the pictures...

He found you?

...that. He found me and gave me the pictures back, this particular German. Now, these pictures I carried in my sleeve. To the end of the war I still have them.

You still had them, the pictures?

Of course. Now the problem going into Mauthausen was that they sent, they sent in one hundred people at a time. The ones they sent them in, you, you didn't know anymore what happened. Did they kill them? Because we heard about being gassed and burned. We, we heard those stories, it was hard to believe. But we didn't know what's happening to these people. They come hundreds at a time and half an hour later, whatever it was, a long--we stood a lot of time. Maybe we slept overnight. I don't remember. So finally came my turn and of course we went in, our hundred. We stripped in one place, we took everything off, total naked. And we went to a place where there were showers. Once again, none of us knew whether there's going to be showers or gas. We heard about those things, we didn't believe it, but we spent so many years already with the Germans, everything was beginning to be believable, very much. The water came out. We got washed. Uh, we got disinfected. On the way out, everyone got a pair of pants, a top, like a jacket. Striped, of course, everything striped. A pair of shoes. I don't remember eh, and a hat. Eh, I, I believe that was just about all.

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