Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Charlotte Firestone - March 11, 1982

Transport to Auschwitz-Birkenau

Was it a cattle car?

It was a cattle car and there, and there were so many people already. Mothers and small children and doctors and, I'm telling you and they stuffed us in there, there was not enough room even to move around and I was holding my child on my lap. He was asleep. I felt his feet. There was a mother--I don't know how many children she had. You know, maybe every year, another one and I felt and that mother was saying, "Go dead, go." for the child. Those children was lying, you know, on somebody's lap and it was...terrible situation. I don't know how long it took, but I remember they stopped the train and, and there was a big barrel and that, they went to make, in that barrel and it was a closed car and it smelled just awful.

You couldn't get off the train. Didn't they...

No. And, I remember the train stopped and they gave us herring to eat without bread. We were very hungry, some of them. Some of them ate it, some of them not. There was no butter, nothing. Can you imagine the, how thirsty, you know. The herring, they had herring with uh, salt you know and then they threw in like a, what ??? Then when we arrived to Auschwitz, I gave my child to my sister, because, there were people, you know--the SS was chasing down and there were Polish people on Jews, but we didn't know, you know, who they are. They had a striped, like a pant--stripped jackets, gray and blue and I gave my child to my sister and I was just, you know, they were chasing them with a whip, hurting me and everybody who was a ??? and I wanted that milk and sugar what I brought so badly, as if that would save me, you know and I wanted that bag, too and the clothes. And I, so they were hurting me and then I had most of--they pushed me down from the train. I fell down. I picked up everything and I was so happy the jar didn't broke, you know. It was like--I don't even know how to describe--as if that would save my life--the, the child's life and then we went, Yeah and then we start walking and one of them went to right and the other one, the SS was pushing to left, right, left. My sister went and gave the child to my mother--I don't even know how it happened and I run after them, because I was pushed to the right and they went to the left and then they uh, I don't know what happened to that bag, sleeping bag and the food. I don't--I don't remember, but I was pushed to the right with my sister and then we went into a, like a big place and they cut our hair and that was Mengele. He was a very handsome guy. I remember when they stopped the train and they give us the herring, that was in Kaschau and they--Mengele said to us, you go to a place. It depends how you want to work. If you want to work good, you're going to get food. If you not going to work, you're not going to get any food. And my father start crying. "I cannot work. I'm not going to get food." My two brothers were with us. They said, "Dad. Don't worry. We're going to work for you, too. You're going to get enough food." But as we came through the--down from there, they pushed us down from the train, one went to the right, some of them to the left. Mengele was there. To the right--and he had a stick and he was with the stick you know, like pointing here and there and pushing with the stick, you know, "faster, faster, faster". It was such a tumult. It wasn't only one wagon and it was a lot of wagons, you know, that they emptied, those people. To the right, to the left, to the right, to the--and, and, and men separate, women separate and we went somehow to this place and they were shaving our head--hair down and there was one woman, her husband was a lawyer and he was at one time a Mayor, a Jew, to the uh, to the city, you know, they, they were not Jews anymore, you know, they were very assimilated and um, they--she said, "no, I don't want you should cut my hair, my..."so the woman said, " be happy we cut only your hair and not your head." I remember that well, the first thing about it, you know. And then, after that, they put us on a--in a block, we were in Birkenau actually. It was, you know, close to Auschwitz. But that place that was called Birkenau.

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