Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - August 14, 1995


Again you went by train, cattle car?

No, no. By truck.

By truck.

By truck. This was, this was maybe no more than twenty miles from uh, Mühldorf. A little quiet village called uh, uh, Mittergars. Mittergars.

So in Mitter...Mittergars the conditions were better than they were in Mühldorf?

Better than Auschwitz. It, it wasn't, yeah, because we didn't have--the Hauptbaustelle, as I mentioned earlier, was a killer. I mean this concrete, the bautonne and all that was, was just terrible hard work.

Before we leave Mühldorf, did they ever finish the bunker?

No, they never did. As a matter of fact uh, I was there after the war. As a matter of fact I was there in April. Uh, I was invited by the City of Seeshaupt to celebrate the fifty year of the death train in their city and, and uh, they took us out to show us the remains of, of this. There was one--American army destroyed most of it. They left one huge piece of concrete like a, like a round bridge-like, like a rainbow, that's left standing, but they never finished the factory. Never. It was, we were liberated before the factory was ever finished. Many, many people died there, by the hundreds and it was all for, for nothing.

And how long were you in Mittergars?

In Mittergars 'til, actually 'til almost 'til the liberation. Uh, in April of 1945, one morning uh, we, we heard rumors that the Americans are coming close. Uh, w-we could see, I believe when I was still in Mühldorf that the American, American fighter pl...planes came so close down to the ground we could almost see the pilot. We were practically tell them, "Come on and get us, save us." So, so we, we knew that the war was gonna come to an end. And there were a couple of really decent guys. I, I almost feel like, I have difficulty saying this, but I want to tell the truth as I know it. There were two German brothers in Organization Todt their, their name was Jupt, J-u-p-t, who were really decent guys. I, I even tried to find them after the war, but I couldn't. And then they told us that "the Americans are getting closer and closer." They said they felt sorry for us. I could see that. They, there were about six, seven young fellows were working and they could see we were barely, you know, teenagers. They tried to make our life as easy as they could. And uh, they said, "The Americans are coming." They said, "This won't be long. Don't give up. Just, just hold on." And they used to bring us once in a while a little piece of bread. And he said that, "You know, we don't have much to eat ourselves." But he gave us encouragement. And uh, we knew that, that, you know, the war might be over, but when, why, what would they do to us. Whether we might have a chance to, to actually survive alive. So we, we worked in Mühldorf. Uh, there were a few people, number of people who got weak from the work and were taken to Mühldorf. But, not as many died in Mittergars as it was. It was, was more humane. And then one day, morning in April, they say--I think I could almost almost hear, we heard some cannon fire too, from a distance away. Uh, he said, "We're marching back to Mühldorf." So we uh, marched uh, we had sort of a eerie feeling. We had Ukrainian guards who were guarding us at the, at the camp where this factory was. And they were going around and taking everybody's shoes away. And, and I had a good pair of shoes. The only thing that the Germans let me keep in Auschwitz is the shoes. They figure that people need to work, they need shoes. I had almost a new pair of shoes, a nice strong pair of shoes like ski boots. And this Ukrainian uh, took away my boots. And I almost wondered why, you know. It, it didn't look like a good omen. But we marched back to Mühldorf by--we got there by evening. It took maybe five, six hours to go. We marched back to Mühldorf. In Mühldorf there was a confusion, tumult uh, the war is, is coming close. There was something in the air that, that, that, that the war is going to be finished. And, and uh, I was there I think two nights when they put us in the cattle cars again. And uh, we found out after the war that of course the Germans didn't want any of the concentration camp survivors to, to be alive to tell the story what the Germans did to them. And uh, they, they packed us in this train. They were supposed to take us someplace in the mountains to kill us all. But uh, a lot of confusion reigned those days. Uh, at one railroad station, in Tutzing, not far from Mühldorf uh, we were bombed by the American fighter planes. A number of our roommates got killed and wounded. So we were in this train, uh, then in Poing about two days after we were in the train, we were at a train station not far from Mühldorf where the station master came out and he said, "The war is over. You are all free." Uh, the German army surrendered, but the SS still fought on for a few more days. So everybody was very happy. In the meantime we had a, a good number of Greek Jewish prisoners in our camp. They were on the train. As soon as we that uh, the war is over, the, the cattle car which held our food wa...was uh, immediately [laughs] taken over by them and all the food was handed out and taken all out. Everybody was hungry. And, and myself and my friends from my hometown, the five of us were just sitting there stunned on the railroad track trying to understand what was happening to us or if this is really happening. And after about an hour we hear shots being fired, a lot of confusion. There was a Air Force camp on the outskirts of this town and when they found out the SS didn't surrender and they saw that these inmates from the train are going away from the train, so they, they tried to bring everybody back to the train and quite a number were killed and wounded who were trying to leave the train. Luckily myself and, and my friends uh, from my hometown, we just stayed there. We, we went back to the train again. The train took off again, it seems like it was going back and forth. I found out after the war that no station wanted to keep us. They knew that the war was over in days and they were afraid to have this train full of, of this humanity, skin and bones, a lot of dead, starving and wounded people. So we were very hungry, because after the, before the train, before the car where the food was, was all emptied, we were getting a piece of bread every day. So I remember that traveling in the train I was so hungry, I just lied down on the floor and I just wondered what is it like to die when you, when you starved. Uh, one day the cattle uh, the doors were opened in a station and we saw a big Hungarian prisoner camp right below. And we all spoke Hungarian, we talked to them and they had pity for us and they threw bread, slices of bread over to our train. And our guards at that time already were old Germans who were wounded in the war. The SS were gone already. And, and this old German soldier, he must have been close to sixty, he grabbed a piece of bread from the Hungarian prisoners who threw it over and before he lifted it to his mouth, I was so hungry I ran over to him and I grabbed it from his hand. I grabbed it, I didn't care if he shoots me or not. So he just swore at me and I took that piece of bread right away and I took that piece of bread and it sustained me for a long while. And uh, two days later uh, one morning in the little, a little, a matter of fact a very beautiful little village of Seeshaupt our train was stopped. The day before the Red Cross was there. Some of the cattle cars received some food. It never got to my car. We were in the end. I don't know how. And uh, one morning uh, uh, the doors were opened, early morning and, and the, we saw no guards.

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