Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991


When you arrived in Bergen-Belsen--did you arrive by train in Bergen-Belsen or did you walk?

No, we a...arrived by train, I don't know. We walked to the camp uh, very long. I don't know. It was far away from the camp, the station, so they took us there. You know, how many times I escaped death there. Then once they was asking the girls they was taking with uh, with the trucks and they threw 'em in the ocean. From the trucks they was taking them. So we went and a few girls--we was about fourteen, we was kept together. All from near towns and so, so uh, we, we go together. Wherever one goes, we all of us goes. So we went on that truck--and that truck was broke down. So they put us on a train back to the camp. And uh, the Germans was so angry. He says, "You're no good! The--Die Teufel will nicht haben. The devil doesn't want you," you know. And he said that they was taking us to throw us in the ocean. So next time we wasn't volunteering for nothing already, he, he told us that. So I don't know if it's true or not, probably was true.

When you walked into Bergen-Belsen, what did it look like?

Well, it was ho...a horrible place, horrible. We were, when we walked in there we, we was pushing each other to go in the barracks where it was beds. But girls which we knew from home, so I was thinking we go to her barrack. So they didn't want to. And we was pushing ourself in, so there was one bed. So everybody took a bed. My sister you know, the, the two of us was in a bed already. And the next bed was Aryans with us. And they was hitting us, those German prisoners. "Verfluchtete Juden! Verfluchtete Juden!" They was same prisoners, they got the same thing to eat as we had. They didn't have more, but ju...because when I meet now Germans, here is a woman, a German, she, a bride war. So she says uh, "Oh she was young." I say, "How about your father, your grandfather? Don't tell me that. What were they doing? You can't tell me that, that you are no sinner because you was young." And my teacher is a uh, German you know, a exercise teacher. I go water exercising. So uh, I don't know, I, I go she's a good teacher, but somehow I have just a hatreds toward her, I don't know. She was young. But she says her father was some pla...place uh, in uh, Poland stationed and, and he lived through hell and so...I say, "Was he SS?" I said, "Don't tell me he wasn't an SS." I said, 'Sure they suffered too," I say, "the soldiers, because they didn't have paradise." But they was killing Jews from left to right and the Polacks alone was uh, killing Jews. You see today you go, I have people who came from Poland in, in uh, the Goyim were surprised to see 'em that uh, they are living in America and, and so didn't remember the family, they you know, younger people already, so they don't remember. Just remember a yes, I know they were here. A girl from Berezny--she was uh, uh in August. She took, she has a daughter, a judge, and uh, two sons uh, three sons and a daughter. So they took 'em, one is married with a daughter-in-law and she went to Berezny for ???. She didn't send me the pictures yet. She say, she's sending pictures, I still didn't get it. But Steiger got it. I didn't talk--he had told me he got it. So only their house is standing, Steiger's. They had a long, long house, I don't know how many rooms, but a huge house. So this is the only one standing there. And her house--they had al...a bi...a big houses, people who--like apartments, people was renting from them. Uh, they built con...condominiums, cheap looking condominium. And the shul is cross from their store, was. So no stores, nothing. Ju...neglected. She wanted to show her children the park where she used to walk. So she took 'em to the park, she walked in, "It's dirty," she says. "no benches, nothing." So she just got, so she wants to go to the shul and it's a nightclub. So she says, "Maybe we ask and we can come in," she says. "No, it's mine," she says. "The shul is mine!" And she walked in, poor kid and she start crying. So, who is there in charge of it, she wanted to give 'em food, they didn't want to, to eat. So they went to--I told you that last week--they went to the Goy because Steiger told 'em across the street they should go to the Goy. So they walked in and she had Persian rugs, Steiger's rugs you know, from the rooms you know, all there. I didn't talk to 'em, i...if...

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