Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Kalmas - May 25, 1982

Hearing of Jewish Liquidation

Do you ever know what happened to the rest of your family--your mother and dad?

They're not here, so I know what happened.

You said that when you went in--first came to Auschwitz you, you, you went into a, a, what, what looked like a shower room.


You thought it might be the gas chamber.


Did you know about the gas chambers before?

We, we heard about it, yes.

How is it that you heard?

Um, somehow, I don't know how, but apparently that from every--we knew about the liquidation of Jews before that in 1941. That there's a direct liquidation. That people were taken out from the Warsaw ghetto on automobiles and gassed. How did it happen? How did we find out? Somehow, somebody survived that gas, came back.

Did people believe them when, when, when these stories came back?

No, because is it ha...is it possible to take a direct human being and kill 'em, innocent? A man, a child, a, a boy, a girl. Direct--put 'em in, in, in automobile and, and, and, and turn the gas on and gas 'em? Nobody believed it. That was the whole thing. There was always somebody that survived even when they were shooting 'em, you know, they told 'em to dig a grave and line up. They're shooting them. Somebody survived there from the grave and got out. He got mi...mingled up, you know, among the dead and uh, he survived. Came back and told the story.

But nobody believed him.

Nobody believed him, that's true. Nob...nobody believed him. I will say it myself, I didn't believe it.

What did, what did they think he was saying this for?

They didn't have nothing specific or detailed, you know, saying. The only thing they knew is they survived, period. Run for your life. Where, where are you going to run? There was no place where to run. We're just, just killing--like sitting ducks--shooting--no place where to run.

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