Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Salvatore and Lili Katan - August 18, 1981

Life Under German Occupation

Yeah, I've heard about. All right, now we'll get to the war experiences. Um, just whatever you can think of to--that you can remember about uh, what happened during the war. So you were in the army and then...

SK: Then we dropped the rifles and we come home. And after that all of a sudden in 19...at the end of 1942 we were, we were blocked by the Germans and we sent the Jews to work eh, and build houses in Poland and Germany. This was the trick of the Germans and there's the reason they catch so many, because I have the opportunities to run away. Many, many opportunities to run away, too, in the mountains, but I don't want to leave my parents alone and there's the reason I get stuck with them. Then when we come to Auschwitz as a matter of fact...

LK: Were you in the ghetto?

SK: Sure, we were in the ghetto.

LK: In Salonika?

SK: In Salonika they took us in the boxcar. And from the ghetto I had a lot of opportunities to run away because uh, I used to go with the trucks with the Germans and pick up wood and stuff like that for the bakeries to baking the bread and stuff like that and I used to go out, and I used to have opportunities to run away.

LK: If you wouldn't get caught. SK I never could get caught, but the only trouble is I don't want to leave my father and my mother and my sister and the rest of the family by itself.

This was 1942.

SK: Correct, 1942.

Just a--what--do you remember the name of the section of the ghetto you were in?

SK: Uh, yeah.

Was it Baron Hirsch?

SK: Uh, Vardar, Vardar, they used to call it. This was built in majority of the Jews they used to live there where they closed up to make a camp.

LK: That was the main office.

SK: Vardar, yeah. And Baron Hirsch, Baron Hirsch.

Um, okay. So when they built--started the ghetto, you were put into one section of the ghetto, is that...

SK: Yeah, they, they were uh, block, the Germans. They don't have uh, wire fences, stuff like that. They were...

LK: Guarding.

SK: ...guarding the whole thing.

You had to leave your home then?

SK: You can't leave it, no. You have to stay over there.

LK: Your home.

Your house?

SK: Oh yeah, you had to leave the house, of course. We left the house, everything there and we went there.

Okay. And then?

SK: And then they took us there and we went uh, as you say, ten, fifteen days and all of a sudden they come to say, "You people--you're going to go in the boxcar and we're going to start transferring you people to Germany--to Auschwitz."

They told you the name?

SK: Yeah, but they told us Germany, they no told us Auschwitz. Then we find out it wasn't Germany, it was Poland--Auschwitz.

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