Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Introduction (continued)

And where--and how long were you there?

Uh, we was there from October 'til January 8. In January 8, we was taken on foot and we crossed the bridge to go and they bombed the bridge. If we would have be on the bridge would be killed all of us. But they took us through the bridge and we was walking night and day. It was snowing horrible and to, we was walking to Gross Rosen. I don't know how far this was, but it must be far. Because I don't know how many days. And we had no shoes. Some of the girls just rags on the feet you know, wrapped around and with the blankets. We was covered in five in a row. And if somebody went out, they shot 'em. So many times I attempted--heck, we go out. But I looked at their laying in that snow in January, frozen there. Who will pick 'em up? What will be with those people? So I didn't want to die like this. So finally we come to Gross--before Gross Rosen, they uh, stopped on a farm and they put us in a--on, on a hay there, in the...


the barn. And they give us hot water to drink, the farmer. So that's the only hot we got. We didn't get to eat, just... So uh, the girls were sleeping and they froze to death. My sister was with me and she was crying that she lays on her leg and I was kicking the woman and she was dead. They was dead, we was laying on top of each other we should be warm. So uh, the next morning they screamed, "Steh Auf! Steh Auf!" And uh, they took us from there. Yeah, we was in Gross--to the camp in Gross Rosen. And we was there for awhile, I don't remember exactly. Not too long. And then they took us to a train and uh, and took us to Mauthausen. And I didn't know, just after the war I fought out that the Mauthausen they had gas eh, chambers too. So they bring together, they give us like striped pajamas and we was laying on the floor. It was dirt only. Nothing. We was laying on that and once they took us to a bed and we were staying there in front of doctors. And so, if anybody had something they took 'em inside. And I don't know, we never had nothing on our uh, because, maybe because we was uh, from a farm and so and we had enough milk and cheese and so. So we didn't ever look nothing on our bodies. So we always passed the examination. But we passed naked and it was going like this and the doctors was Czech and they told us in Czech, "Don't worry, just go, don't be ashamed. It's not your fault. And just go through with it." And then they give us pajamas and again took us there to sleep. So we was there about only two weeks. And sirens was coming from all over. So, we was thinking oh, or they come and kill us or we will we'll be free. So from there they packed us, took us away and we saw the fighting, I--in Austria you know, on the border they was fightings. And the planes was coming by the hundreds. It's like birds when they fly away. So the planes was coming. And they was bombing, so we was lay--laying on the ground. And the dirt was covering us all over. So I thought my sister, I always put under me. I always wanted to keep her safe. So uh, she was crying and I say, "Gee I--we, we be dead here." And I thought I'm dead. You know, I was laying there. I, somehow I lost my mind. And uh, then they say, "Steh Auf! Steh Auf!" They were screaming at us and they hit me and I say, "Oh, I'm living." I say for Margaret, "Get up, why don't you get up?" So we got up and they put us in that--on a train. Before just in those uh, uh, cattle wagons we was going all the time. And they put us on a nice train, so the girls say, "Oh, they taking us home." I always said for those Hungarian girls, "You're stupid, why would they take you home. They brought you here to kill and they're not taking you home." And we uh, we was going on that train forever. So the train was bombed. There that area was the last, you know. They was all killed. And none of us Jewish girls, was--wasn't touched. They died of natural, I mean died of hunger, but. So they come and those survivor, survivors. They beat us. They was beating us. They was uh, prisoners too. But they was beating us and uh, said that how come that God loves us better than them and so many of them was killed by the bomb. So the train couldn't move and this was on a field someplace. For ten days we got nothing to eat. I don't know if the Germans got something to eat or not, but we didn't. And they uh, we could go out and dig in the fields. So we just found frozen potatoes or something and we was eating that. It wasn't enough snow, we was leaking the snow all over, you know. And there was farmers so we went in their garbage but we didn't find nothing. That's why I always told my children, "Eat the food! I went in the garbages, didn't find nothing and you have good food and you eat it." So they was laughing all the time what they have to eat because I was hungry. So uh, they, they say, "It's no excuse for us to eat because you was hungry. We're not hungry now so why you're forcing us to eat?"

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