Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001

Conditions in Gunskirchen

The barracks in Guns...Gunskirchen, was there a floor in there?

There was a floor on that barrack, yes. Or other ones. I believe there was, there was a floor. I, I think there was a floor. Or maybe there was no floor.

So it was just mud.

Wait a minute! Maybe no, because it was no mud because there was a ceil...there was a roof, there was a roof over us. Maybe there was no floor. Comes to think about it, I don't remember anything smooth to, to le...to sit on. Maybe it wasn't. But it was dry.

It was dry.

It was dry.

One of the accounts that I read said there was--there were mud--it was a mud floor and it was not dry and that conditions inside the barracks were awful.

It was worse outside. As you could see inside, nobody could, not everybody could be inside. There, there was just a... People slept miraculously on the two by fours, on the, on the, on the two by fours...


...the beams, on the beams that were holding up the building. And we were fortunate also every morning someone, we had someone who was optimistic. And every morning he got up there someplace where he slept, and he says, "Alle Yiden"" Jews, Friends. He says, "The war is getting closer, it's getting be close to the end!" And he was, give us an inspiring speech. "We have to hold out for a few more days and you're going to hear pretty much uh, the, the canyons the canons uh, and uh, and the airplanes are, are, the, the, the uh, the fighting is nearby us." I don't know how he knew that, but he gave us that inspiring speech and everybody was trying to survive another day, uh. Over there at one point, to demonstrate which is maybe not a nice things for the Hungarian Jews but they were stronger. Everybody I cannot hold it against them. Survival eh, of the fittest. We were getting some food from Red Cross in Gunskirchen. Those different, little cans. And I remember I was in line. I was in line. And uh, that, the line, line was moving slowly, but it's a lot of people. All of a sudden Hungarian come one stepped in, in front of me, another one. And I, I say, "What, what's happening over here?" I questioned. I got beat up.

By the Hungarians.

That's right. I got hit, thrown out of, out of the line and that was the end of it and I couldn't do much. Because, you know, once again, these people were very strong and we were very, very weak, so that's...

Gunskirchen was Lembach, is that the name of the town?

Lembach I think was close by. I think that's where I ended up after the war, I think.

So it was already, it was a schlep. They marched you from Gusen to Gunskirchen.

Right, right.

And then you worked there.

We didn't work. At Gunskirchen nobody worked.

By March there was no, there was no work.

No, there was, there was no--in Guns...in Gunskirchen there was no work. To give you one little episode. I, I was terribly weak. My one, my strong friend--that was the day, that was the day that the war was ending. But we didn't know that. My friend says, "Fred, let's take one of those kitchen uh, uh, the soup" eh, what you call this the barrels. One of the soup barrels, "let's take it out of the kitchen," because the word was that you go to the, go down to the kitchen you can organize some food maybe. They were throwing some bones out, you can, you can put your head in, you can get few licks of soup. That the word was that you could possibly get something. I never wanted, because I was weak, I was afraid. I couldn't carry that thing. He says, okay, let's go. So, it was empty, I went with him down. And as we go down, as we go down--first of all, on the left side I see in the kitch...from the kitchen over there they taking some eh, some barrels out and I see some people jumping at the barrels with the head first. Before we know there was a, a pile of people one on top of the other trying to, to get something. Of course I couldn't go for that. Eh, eh, I, I would be too weak. I, I, I'd be all, by the time I get out from under the people I would be all through, so. But we walk, continue walking, as we walked down because it was fairly long walk from the top of the, from, from the top of the camp down to the kitchen. And then we see all of a sudden Germans changing eh, on the uniforms, they're putting on the Red Cross uh, band. They're putting Red Cross band. And some going into, into a, into a jeep or their, their cars, whatever it was, like a jeep. And they're piling into the jeep, and they're going one after the other, they're going away someplace. Eh, that was about five o'clock in the afternoon, four, five. And I realized that uh, that they're really going, that they're really running away. That the war may be over, but eh,, eh. As we're going back up we have seen a lot of Germans doing the same thing all of a sudden. Putting the Red Cross band and just going down. As I came to the top of the hill, at the top of the hill that was above the barrack that we slept in, it was a clearing like. A lot of people lay next to the other, there was no room. But it was a sunny day, sunny, a lot of people stayed over there. Uh, it was already May 7th. Eh, people, see, because it, it was pleasant and it was, it was grassy. So I tell some people over there that I think the war is over because they're putting this armband on. But nobody believed. I mean, you know, these people are, they, if, if you see it with your own eyes maybe you believe it. There were people who were half gone. But all of a sudden you see the soldiers, one by one. Eh, one telling another something and one telling another, and, and we witnessed that they are eh, the, the guard that was guarding us, they all going away and no one else come to take their place.

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