Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Introduction (continued)

Do you know where you were at this time?

O...on that train, I don't know.

Somewhere between Mauthausen and...

Uh, Mauthausen, Bergen-Belsen. Because they took us Ber...Bergen-Belsen. Finally we arrived to Bergen-Belsen after, I don't know, it was really the girls ??? ten days, but it seems to me it was forever there because the girls was dying. Everybody was dying. We couldn't even move. So finally that uh, from the train, they mo...the train moved to one side. They fixed the road or something. And they took us uh, to Bergen-Belsen. We arrived. But not far away the train stopped from the camp, and we had to walk. This was the hardest walk I ever made. I was forcing myself and I was schlepping my sister. And we was five girls, we knew each other from home. And we were schlepping each other just to survive. And we arrived to that camp and I saw girls who I knew from Europe. So she was Blockowa there. So I say oh, she will put us in a good place at least.

A Blockälteste? Is that what you mean?

Yeah, she was a Blockälteste. Her sister... So, now, they say, you just go, go, go, go. So finally we went in uh through our window. We couldn't go through the door. So we helped each other through our window and went in and grabbed, grabbed a, a ??? you know, those bunkers.


So uh, we went in through the window. And uh, we stayed there. Finally in the evening they give us to eat, tasted so good, a, a rutabaga, cooked rutabaga. Which I hated it because we was farmers, we had those rutabagas and I never wanted to eat. So I always remember, my mother said, "One day you will be happy to have it." I don't know why she said that, but she used to say that. So uh, my mother was with me for six months. But in Auschwitz when they took us away they took her to the gas kammers, and she knew already where she's going. So uh, we was there and they took us every morning to pull some kind of weeds in the fields. You have no gloves and our hands was bleeding, cut. And those Austrian SS men was staying with us and they knew Hungarian.

From Mauthausen, they came from Mauthausen?

Yeah. So--and we was speaking Hungarian. I learned in concentration camp the Hungarian because I went to Russian school in Czech. And I learned Czech and Russian. So I didn't speak Hungarian, but when the Hungarians came in so I started to pick up words. And the--some Hungarian girls didn't speak Yiddish, only Hungarian. So I learned from them. And we were speaking in that. He was listening and he heard that we was cursing 'em and so on. So the girls there and was beaten up, you know. He came and he beat us up. Not me, but ne...girl next to me he really with a, a, with a ??? he hit her. And uh, she was bleeding, but uh, he let her...We wrapped her in a piece of cloth you know, the hands and the neck where he injured her. Then we understood that he must speak Hungarian, so we watched. We didn't--we wasn't talking.

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