Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Karp - September 14, 1995

Evacuation from Kochendorf

How long were you in Kochendorf, do you remember?

Kochendorf, we were from sometime mid part of September to towards the, uh, latter part of March.

And then what happened?

In March, when the Allied Forces were closing in again from various different direction, we got word that we are going to be evacuated out of Kochendorf, and we are going to be transported to Dachau, and it was just outside Munich, and sure enough, one day came, and they said you better be, be ready tomorrow morning. Now, there were two phases to that. Some of us left by train, and some of the camp--some of the people were walking, marching. The distance wasn't really that great, but it still took us almost four days to get from Kochendorf to Munich.

Did you go on the train?


You went four days by train?


Four days by train?

Yep. Because we had to zigzag, you know, because some of the rail lines were, were cut off by the Allied Forces, and in order for them to get us, they had to zigzag. I remember we went, we stopped at a train station in Ulm, but it was out of the way, and many times we stopped, we couldn't proceed, because, uh, there may have been military movements on the rails and so forth, but it took us four days, and if I'm correct, the distance is only a hundred and twenty kilometer. It wasn't that far. And that was again, a really trying four days, because the cold was unbearable. March in the German Bayerische Mountains. Cold can go down well, I don't know, well below freezing point, that's not even the word, but it could go five, ten below or whatever freezing, and there was no food. There was no drink.

For four days.

For four days. We were not supplied with anything. And I can say that, that at least half of the people died on the way going to Dachau, and that was from being exposed to the weather, no eating, no drinking, sickness and so forth.

Were there dead people in the car you were in, in your...

Yes. They were kept over there.

So, some of the people in the same car as you were in had also died.

Yeah, yeah. Now, there were, particular one father, one family, three sons and a father. Only one son survived that trip. Two sons and the father passed away. I remember their name, Jacob, Jacob, yep. That was their family name, and ironically what we did to shield ourselves a little bit from, from the cold, we used dead bodies, you know, to cover.

You covered yourselves with the bodies?

Yeah. And it was very unfortunate that my uncle where I was very close and fighting it through the previous months--he, he didn't get onto the train. He was with one of the marching group, and after four days, we got into Dachau, took us in to get a shower, and in the hot shower, there was from the remaining people who, who was alive, half of them died right there, right on the floor in the shower, because, you know, you were so weak that when that hot shower hit you, whether it was heart attack or just, just being, being without strength, weak and fall over, you know, a lot of them, a lot of them passed away. I mean, this is something I haven't been thinking of daily through past fifty years, but as I'm talking about it, the picture is in front of me. The showerheads were pouring all the water. People just falling, falling, falling. That's it. And, we were there for approximately four weeks in Dachau.

How did it feel to be separated from your uncle after...

Well, it was very sad, and it certainly, emotionally, it, it, it, it destroyed me, because figure that all these months, we fought jointly, separately to, to help each other survive, and here it is, and more so, when the group that he was in, came in to Dachau, and people who I knew from the camp, they were telling me that he is, he is not with the group. He's not with us. I told them, I says, "But he left with the group." "Yes, he left with the group, but somehow he disappeared." So, I had no other choice than to believe that he may have been, he may have died, he may have been shot. He may have, for whatever reason, that he is not alive, and about a couple of weeks later, um, I was told by someone who I knew that "Hey, I spotted your uncle. He is in the camp." Dachau. And we were reunited, and needless, needless to say, that, uh, I mean I was overjoyed, and I found out what has taken place. He was telling me he snuck away, he snuck out from the group as they were marching, and he hid in a barn on a farm. He was there for a couple of days, and the farmers, when they found out that he is there, they fed him. They gave him some food, because this was already, I mean, everybody knew, including the farmers or whoever they may have been, except the fanatics perhaps, that the war is just a matter of time. That it will end. And they kept him there for several days, but then they told him, "Look, we can't keep you here, because there are still some roaming German soldiers. It could be the SS. It could be the Wehrmacht. It could be whoever it may be, and if they find you here, not only that they going to shoot you, they going to shoot us, too." So they asked him to leave, and he left. Um, he joined another transport where it was coming in the same direction. He just stepped into the line and then he kept coming...

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