Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001

Returning to Poland

When you were liberated, you went home then, is that right?

A...after awhile. Uh, we all had a plan to meet back in Krakow. But after the liberation it, it was, you just couldn't go on foot. The trains were not running properly. Eh, I ended up someplace near uh, I think I showed it to you last time eh, in Austria. Uh, let's see where it was. Le...eh, Lembach, I think it was. Here it is. By Lembach, right over there. And there was, the Americans gave us a place. There was a number of younger people living in a, in a place that had two or three floors, I think and we took care of ourselves, uh. Everybody was emaciated. We, we, food it was something we didn't have for such a long time. Eh, and then most of us, one at a time, one after the other, got sick. And we all ended up eh, in a hospital, I think in Linz, because each and every one of us had typhus. And, uh...

You also had typhus.

I also had typhus and I think I stated it before. Eh, typhus is the kind of a sickness that you got extremely high fever and you kind of pass out for a few days, for a week, etc. And then after you uh, uh, if you're fortunate to survive it, then you eh, extremely weak afterwards. It kind of eh, takes you days to learn how to walk again. But eh, I got back to my strength. It took awhile. And then I returned back to eh, to Felbach, and from there on I uh, went back to Krakow to look for my family.

So you thought, you went back to Krakow you thought that you would find people alive.

I certainly did. I was alive. So there is a, a--there was some hope that other people like myself would survive, eh. I didn't know who would survive from the family. And very few did. Some did.

Um, tell me more about Barracks 21.

Barrack 21, that was in Mauthausen. As I stated before, the whole group was there only for a few weeks. And it was Barrack 21, 22, 23, and 24 eh, which I visited after eh, after the war a few yeas back. The whole camp stands, but those four barracks are uh, are demolished for whatever reason. Uh, at that time, they didn't have a full-time work for us. Some of us went down to, to this, this eh, quarry eh, where they were eh, bringing the stones up. Eh, it was eh, a murderous time because many people who went to work eh, did not come back because the stones and the 135 or 140 steps up were just too heavy, and a lot of people were eh, eh, really ditched from the top of the quarry down. Sometimes they made people hold hands together, like two or three or father and son and kind of push them along and eh, and that was the end, eh. And in, in, in 21 itself the sleeping conditions which I'd like to go over--I think I did before. But I'd like to go over the sleeping conditions. They were eh, not just like sardines, they were exactly like sardines. There was too many people to be uh, uh, to, to fit in these barracks. And there was no place to sleep. Only on the floor. The floors were all clear, clear. There was no, no kinds of beds or, or anything else. So there was a German with a whip and one at a time we were running into the room, one room at a time and laying against someone's else's shoes. Eh, you, you lay down on the floor eh, and you cuddle up to the other party's shoes. And eh, and eh, it was head to shoe, shoe to head. Eh, it was exactly like sardines and eh, they whipped, helped us to get extremely close together. So eh, the, the sleeping was eh, eh, once again, one has to portray or imagine it how, how one could be asleep in such a condition. And sometime we had with us something that belonged to us, there was no place to put it. Whether you put your head on it or put this on top on your head, eh. Whether it was eh, the container that you held food in when you got your soup. Because everyone had that. That became a problem, every night. Be...because there was really no place to, to put it and everyone had to hold on to it. It was the dearest thing, uh, without it you couldn't get any soup. So it, it was survival.

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