Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982


By the Americans?

By the American Army, yes. That was a unforgettable sight. I guess then, as I said before, a miracle.

How did you first see them? What do you remember about them?

Well, what I remember about the whole liberation, after we were in our cattle train again, about, I think about three days and we were in a Bavarian village, city called Poing, where we had stopped and the station master came out and started to scream, "The war is over. You are all free." He seemed like he was a sort of a decent chap. He was glad to give us the news. But it was a false rumor. Supposedly, they surrendered, but the SS continued to fight. So uh, we, we weren't uh, liberated that day, but a lot of the people from my train who thought that we were, the war is over, had left the train and uh, within a few hours there was a German Luftwaffe Air Force camp nearby who were called in to bring all these concentration camp people back. So quite a few were shot and killed by them and some of them were brought back to the train. I didn't go anyplace. I just got out of the train and uh, a few friends of mine, three people from my hometown who were still with me, we just sat there bewildered, just trying to sort this out, this is true. They put us back again in the train and uh, for another four days we had no food whatsoever. We had one car with the food in it, but that was, that was uh, wiped out or taken out by the other camp inmates who thought we were free. Immediately they charged the food train. So for about four days they just kept us going back and forth there in Bavaria, I don't know where. But we almost starved to death then. I really came very close to dying of starvation. Once we were attacked by American Air Force planes. We were next to a German troop train. So all of us got out of the train quickly and a few people were shot there. And um, then one morning, one morning uh, at dawn we simply--we heard rumors that the Americans were nearby. We even heard the artillery sounds. And uh, we woke up one morning and the Germans were gone. Uh, I was practically starved. I walked over to the next house for some food. They gave me some food. I saw a German SS man on a motorcycle going by me there. I was uh, scared. I thought he might do something to me, but I guess he didn't pay attention to me. I got some food from, the German house. I, I get back to my train and all of a sudden I saw the American tanks arriving. It was a--I don't know if I have the vocabulary to describe or tell you my feeling. It was--I was bewildered uh, I couldn't believe it was really true. That, that's why I live today to uh, be free, because a lot of the people in the train have died during...We saw the first American tanks arrive. They were throwing food from the tanks to us, bread, chocolates um, little canned goods. And of course we started to eat right away all we could, because we were so starved. Uh, though it was very tragic that we lost a lot of people after the Liberation because their stomach was not ab...was not able to absorb the food. I myself got very sick. This, this might not be very pretty to tell the story, but it's, in a way it's funny, or it's tragically funny. I, I, I ate the food that they gave me and, and um, then all of a sudden I felt very sick. And I remember that uh, I had to go run into a German house and uh, I sat on the toilet and my insides were burning hot, such that I was trying to, to uh, go to the toilet. In the meantime I had some milk that I got from uh, I think from the soldiers or I took it from the German people. So I was drinking to, to cool my body down while I was sitting on the toilet, because I evidently uh, I, I, I just uh, I realized that I was, I ate too much and my stomach wasn't ready for it. I think I had diarrhea. But I, after that I uh, slowed down a little bit and I was careful what I am eating and I was okay. But I, I knew, I have seen many people who got very sick after that and many of them have died. As a matter of fact, one week after the Liberation I contacted typhus and, and uh, thank God I survived, but I was really sick. I almost died of typhus there. But actually, just one morning the American army were there and uh, they were not able to carry out their wishes about killing us all. I guess they didn't want no witnesses. And uh, there were, we had a few hundred people who died in the ordeal from moving us from Mühldorf to the Liberation. But uh, most of the people on the train had survived.

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