Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Introduction (continued)

Is this where you were liberated? Was it in Bergen-Belsen?


By the British?

By the British. And everybody's asking me where did you graduate, I say Bergen-Belsen. That's what I graduated. Because when the British come in, I didn't know--I mean, everybody was running around already and bringing food from the place where they kept the food. But I couldn't walk, you know. So I just was walking or dragging myself like this on my tush. And you know, uh, go there to bring foods. But I uh, 'til I come there I was collapsing. So all I found sauerkraut on the floor, so I picked up that sauerkraut and ate. And I brought for my sister. And uh, her--my sister was thrown out uh, between the dead people. The Germans were--I mean, the--was already run away, the Germans. But the soldiers uh, the English soldiers didn't come in yet. So uh, I went to bring food. I come back and they threw her out. I say, "Where is Margaret?" and the girls say, "They took her out, she's dead." So for some reason, God give me just a energy, I must believe that there was a Rebono Shel Olam, I don't know if He was there or not. But I got up and I went with two girls to look for her. And I come there and she looks at me. So we was carrying her in.

Where was she?

Where they had a big--like a house thrown all the dead people there.

Piled up.

Piled up. And she was laying there on the bottom. So we, unbelievable. If y...you tell a person, like I would tell an American person, they think I'm crazy to say that. But she opened her eyes and she looked at me and I felt and her heart was beating. And we dragged her in. And I had that rutabaga and I was with a spoon, they, they give us bread in Bergen-Belsen, but they poisoned the bread. But I didn't know it's poisoned the bread, that's I should give away because it's poisoned. I just give away, I was thinking I will be better off to eat the rutabaga, it will last longer. So I was scraping from that rutabaga and giving for my sister and she ate it. And the next day we was free. The surgeons come in there and they were spraying us from the lice, we was full of lice. This was a horrible place. They had--nobody was going to a toilet, there was no toilet, it was just a room to go. And everybody had diarrhea, so you went all over. You slept in it and everything. You couldn't go. So uh, we looked horrible. So the surgeons spray for the lice. And there they was taking group by group. And they took us and give us bath--showers. And they put out, put us on a--in a camp that the German soldiers was staying. So they took us there and they had, everybody had a mat with a blanket, it so. And, and we had clean clothes already. They give us clean clothes, but they didn't give us a change yet. Then later the Red Cross came and they's giving us clothes, so.

Now when was this, do you remember?

Forty-five. In A...in April.


April, forty-five.

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