Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982


Just a quick question. Do you remember what the train was like when you went on the five or six hour ride?

Uh, it was a cattle train. A cattle train and uh, we were packed in. Not as bad as we were packed in from the ghetto to Auschwitz, but uh, maybe here we maybe uh, thirty, thirty-five, forty people into the cattle train, sat in and then they took us to the ghetto.

And then during, during the days in the ghetto for that month, what did you during the day?

Just nothing. Uh, absolutely nothing. We were just walking around and, and uh, wondering what is going to become of us. Uh, rumors were coming around already, but um, nobody knew. Everybody was tired and scared and, and, and, uh...

Did anyone try to set up uh, some sort of school? Did they, did they daven?

Davening, yes. Of course that they always did. I mean uh, uh, in time of, of peril like that, even those Jews who didn't, didn't daven regularly, davened all the time. But I, I do recall that my father--we were so congested. There was always a minyan. Besides that, there was really nothing much to do. Just uh, they said that you have to wait and, and uh, you know and I remember and also being made, how to, what to do here and there to keep control by the, by the Hungarian army uh, the police who were supervising us. But uh, nothing really that I can remember uh, exceptional that has happened besides being terribly congested and, and the sanitary facilities were poor.

Was there running water?

Uh, I don't recall that, no. I don't think so, no.

Did people bathe?

I don't think I had a bath in the four weeks, no. I think we were just washing as best as we could. We were really terribly congested in an area maybe of one or two square miles uh, so I, I don't recall vivid details, honestly. But uh, as far as I can remember, we were just washing up uh, in, in a pail, in whatever we had then and uh, keep sanitary like that. But it was very poor. I think there was already bad problems as far as cleanliness and so forth.

And how did they uh, what did they tell you when they moved you from the ghetto?

The, the, the same thing more or less that they told us when they took us from our city; that we are going to be taken to labor camps, the families will be kept together, nothing to worry about. You must give credit to the Nazi murderers. Somehow they, they were able to, to keep things a secret or we were so backward in our life there, we had no communications, that we just didn't know. Uh, I heard stories after the war that in Cluj, Transylvania, it was a large city, that unfortunately some of our leaders knew already what was happening and they were accused that they didn't tell the rest of the Jews what was happening really. And some of them were accused of uh, watching out for themselves. Many tragic stories have come out after the war. But uh, we still had no idea of any extermination camps or of any thoughts of being killed or anything like that. As far as I know, no one has run away from there and we all believed that everything will be alright uh, we just have to follow orders.

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