Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001


And dysentery.

Dysentery, typhus. Mostly dysentery, typhus, all I can say that I was unconscious for a number of days, six, seven days in a hospital. And they, they were uh, taking care of me, the nurses and, uh...


A German hospital. It was all German people.

All German.

There may have been American uh, doctors too, but there was the German hospital. And uh, I, I'm sure it was under American uh, supervision. No question in my mind, okay. Because Americans were in charge. And the nurses and everyone else were taking... I was not the only one, there was many of them. Many didn't survive. Actually about a week or so before I got sick, number of days, I went to visit someone who I knew very well who was sick. Uh, I believe his name was Lutzie, who, he lived here. He just passed away. Lutzie was also, he was a terror here in Michigan. He was in Płaszów with me and he was in, in, in uh, Mauthausen, Gusen and Gunskirchen. And I went to visit him and he was, he was, I, I thought he'd never recover, because he was like that. He was uh, extremely weak and I, I guess I just came to see him after he already eh, was recovering. He recovered. And then my turn came in and I, everyone spent number of days unconsciously in uh, in, in the hospital. That was standard, I think. A tremendous amount of fever, very, very high fever. And uh, I understand people were screaming and yelling having that fever. And so supposedly I did the same, you know.

Fred, when you walked out of Gunskirchen, do you remember what you were thinking that day?

The thoughts were always to find my mother and my brother. My brother I wasn't so sure, but there's always a hope. 'Cause I didn't know what I--we heard enough about, about Auschwitz. But my brother had always chance maybe to jump off the train somehow. There, there was a ray of hope. My mother...The camp that my mother was in, they believed that in a, in a certain eh, eh, powers in, of holding together and, and, and certain uh, they had a certain uh, eh, something with a, with a, like a watch handles in it, and, eh. There was someone who supposedly was uh, what's the word, who could predict things.

You mean mystical powers.

Mystical powers. So my mother, according to the mystical powers that she, the, the, the people told her, she wasn't sure about, about my brother, but she was always sure somehow in her heart and what was telling her that I, that I survived. She was always sure, hoping that I, that, that I would survive. In any case, my mother and eh, my brother was mostly on our minds. Eh, somehow along the way someplace the Americans threw us, threw uh, threw us different clothing. I remember eh, dark blue shirt and pants that they threw us down from the trucks. And we changed into this particular uniform. Uh, I don't remember what happened with shoes, but I remember which--we all had this uh, dark blue uniforms, like. So the question, the answer to you is the most on my mind was my mother and, and, and my, and my brother, uh. Survival was uh, was behind us.

When did you find out for sure, about your mother? Was there a moment that you knew for sure that she hadn't...

During those, during those times that I was in Lembach and in a hospital and then out of the hospital because the recovery takes a week, two, three, or four weeks at least. You come out, you cannot walk. You have to learn how to, you have to teach yourself how to walk again because that's how weak one is after this particular typhus sickness. As soon as I got more strength. We were inquiring about families. There lists and lists and lists. People who knew people, who have seen people. I didn't hear about my mother, I didn't hear about my brother. And I decided at one time that I'm going, that I'm strong enough I'm going to go to Poland. I look for the fam...for my family. We all decided during the war that we all go back to Krakow and look for each--and find each other there if we survive. So that's what I decided to do. Eh, stupidly eh, taking, what I took to Poland, I had a little suitcase. I uh, loaded it up with chocolates and some cigarettes, American cigarettes. Somehow I figure I like to take that for my mother or whoever I find, my brother. So with this suitcase, went on a train. It was extremely--it was not easy to travel at that time. People were traveling on top of the roof, on roofs. Sometime even with eh, eh, with, with uh, the live chickens in their hands. Uh, people were traveling--the, the, the, the, the trains were so overcrowded, people were traveling on the side of the trains, so it was not easy to eh, to travel. I remember very well. [pause] I got to Krakow. It was the first time I got Krakow. In Krakow I was told that my mother is alive. And supposedly her brother, who is in Russia, who was in Russia, is also alive. And my mother went someplace to Sopot. Sopot is near Gdansk, near Gdina, it's on the Baltic Sea. And it's a long trip at that time to go to get there. Once again, I managed to get on the inside the train, and I went to look for my mother in Sopot.

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