Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Gross Rosen

We wasn't doing nothing,

Just stayed there.

Yeah, we just stayed there.

How many days?

I don't know, a few weeks, you know. Uh, we couldn't stay too long because we--then we went to Mauthausen. And in Mauthausen we didn't stay long because they was taking us to Bergen-Belsen. And then the longest we was in Bergen-Belsen then after this. It was...

Did you ever wonder why they were marching you back and forth?

Because we saw it. We saw the Germans go with the horse and buggies and on trains and so they was running away.

But why would, did you ever wonder why they were...


taking you with them?

well, they was taking us with them uh, the Russians was coming, that's why.

But they wouldn't leave you. Why not...

They didn't leave us...

Why not just leave you and run?

they didn't leave us. Look, how would they leave us there to be freed from the Russians when uh, already like i...in, in uh, Bergen-Belsen they was poisoning the bread in the last minute. They was already gone and the bread was poisoned. And uh, I read in the, in The Jewish News this week or so that a, a guy, a, a Gentile was, a American uh, in uh, in Dachau. He freed--he was fourteen-year-old and they took him out and they shot him but he was pretend that he's dead and he was found by that soldier. And that soldier was just nineteen-year-old and he helped him and he survived. And uh, he--they met here in America. So he was just fourteen-year-old. He saw his father die. They shot his father. And he was uh, he played uh, violin and uh, so they kept him on. And he was singing, that's what the Germans was doing. Those--he was talented. They kept like dancers, they--like in Auschwitz was a big like uh, s...something built from brick there a long thing like a table in the middle and uh, there was Romanian girls dancing and singing. They was very talented those Romanian girls.

While you were there, then you remember seeing them dancing?

Yeah, yeah.

Did you remember an orchestra?

No, there was no orchestra.

Or band or anything?

No. But we saw the children you know, walking and singing German songs. They taught the children--beautiful girls, you know. And then all of a sudden they don't sing anymore. They killed 'em.

This is, this still in Au...you're talking about Auschwitz now.


The Kinderlager.

Yeah, yeah. They was walking and singing, just beautiful kids. And they was walking through, we could not talk to them and ask 'em questions. This always you know, I wouldn't have a child, but whoever had wanted to know if his child is there. But they was not allowed to go to the children, nobody. But they was, we--they brought us to see uh, they, those children uh, singing and, and at how good they have it. But we knew where all of a sudden no more singing. You know, we don't heard 'em, we don't see 'em.

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