Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Kent - August 7, 1984

Forced March/Liberation

Up to this point, did you ask anyone or did you think about um, what had happened to your mother, your brother, or was it Stefania? Your sister's name?



Um, no but every night uh, the thought that really kept me alive was the thought that my brothers may survive and every night that was the best part of my life in camp is going to sleep, and just dreaming of my family and I would always think of my two brothers because they were young and strong and so good looking and I was thin...hoping they would survive and uh, that's what really kept me going, the thought of finding my brothers. Whichever camp I went to, I would look for them and I would look for my mother but it was so useless. And so, we were marching for about four weeks and as I was trading with this camp that went to work, I um, inherited a pair of shoes. But the shoes were four times my size. So, when we're going on these marches, it was wintertime, my shoes kept rubbing agains...against my uh, foot and I have really got so many frostbites, I still have visible marks from the marching. We would march like fifty miles a day, every day, I don't even know how far we would walk. And we had uh, few uh, soldiers in the front. We started with about a 1,000 people and every day people kept just dying off and if you couldn't keep up with the speed, they would just uh, get left behind. They would--the Germans would just shoot, shoot them right there or kick them to death. And uh, every day we would be losing tens, more than ten, fifteen people a day, I remember, and when finally got to one place, to a barn in Upper Silesian, upper Poland, near uh, Gdańsk, then Danzig, I remember coming to a barn and when we came into this barn, we were maybe left like maybe 250, maybe 300 people out of a 1,000 women. And we came in at night into this barn and we didn't know that we were uh, sleeping on dead bodies. Again, we're meeting some other inmates from different camps evidently and there were some men in that barn. And I could hear a lot of screamings from the other side in that uh, camp. It was a barn like, it wasn't even a camp.

Do you think there were rapes?

I don't know, there were um, there were women and men. Evidently they did rape some women but these were also inmates, I didn't know if they were Jewish faith or not but they were also uh, prisoners of war, I don't know uh, something had to be going on because there were screams uh, coming from that direction and then the next morning uh, we were asking for some food. And we asked one German uh, woman soldier and I said to her, "Are we going to get some food? We need some water, we need some food." And she says, "In the afternoon uh, we should be getting some soup, they should be cooking some soup." And uh, about one o'clock, no one came, no soup, no food again, and we're getting weaker and weaker. And uh, people were going, trying to go out of the barn and to see if they can go up to the garbage cans around there and look at some food or something, maybe potatoes, it was a small town uh, village. And they, they came back and they said, "There are no guards." But we didn't move because we figure well, it's propaganda, they want us to get out of the barn so they could kill us, shoot at us. And other few people went out, looked out, again there were no guards, you know, guarding us and I remember all of a sudden, they opened the doors from the uh, barn and we're charging out like cattle. Again, like animals out of this barn together, like you chase a running horses. And we didn't see any guards and we walked like one block and we could see Russian tanks going and um, and I kept looking for my brothers on these tanks. I mean, I think I must have lost my mind. I saw men and I was so, must be my brothers must be one on these tanks. And the Russian soldiers were throwing food at us. And I remember having, going into one of the German homes and putting on some clothes but I was so afraid that behind the closet a German was gonna come out and kill me there. So, I picked up his suit, a pillowcase, I'll never forget this, and I was standing on this corner and these soldiers were giving me all kinds of food and I had a full pillowcase of food and I couldn't move it. I left the whole pillowcase with food. And we were taken to a hospital by the uh, Russian soldiers. And I had these soldiers guarding me all night with a lantern and every time another soldier, a Russian soldier would come in, this other soldier would say, "???" meaning uh, baby, a baby, don't touch her. I don't know what they were doing to these other woman. And uh, in spite of my age, I must have looked like I was eight years old at the time I was so uh, dehydrated and I didn't have any food, I must have lost more than half of my weight.

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