Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Conditions in Bergen-Belsen

The Bergen-Belsen camp um, do you remember, were there dead bodies around? Do you remember seeing...

Very, very--my sister was thrown out while she is dead you know, she--we couldn't go to the toilet. There was a toilet, it was one room where they, everybody went. It was full of--excuse me--of shit, so nobody could go. It was sliding all over. So we went, oh where we were sitting and standing and sleeping in it everything. It was already the end of the world. We would all die there. So the dead bodies was so high like a house. We were schlepping--somebody died we were schlepping and throwing 'em there. So and they took out my sister. I went to bring water for her and I couldn't walk, just on my tush I was sliding. And I come back and they say, "They took her away because she died." So I said where? And I went there. Somehow I got up on my feet and, and I walked there and four girls came with me. And I come there and I say to her "Miriam," you know, in Jewish, "Marinko, Marinko," and she opened her eyes. And I start dragging her back. But we couldn't lift her up because nobody had any energy. So finally we dragged her back and I was cradling this rutabaga. I traded my bread, which was poisoned. I didn't know it's poisoned. I was just thinking I will have more food from the rutabaga, so I traded the bread for the rutabaga. Somebody already went someplace and brought a bunch of rutabagas. So I giver her the bread and um, she was eating that and I gave her water and so and uh, the next day we was free. And they took her away and I never heard if she's living or what. And they took us you know, they first sprayed uh, the soldiers there for the lice.

What did you think when they did that. They made you get undressed and then sprayed you, is that?

No, they, they did that in--with the clothes on.

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