Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bernard & Emery Klein - May 23, 1984

Introduction Continued

From Gleiwitz when did you leave Gleiwitz?

B: We stayed in, we got to Gleiwitz, we actually got to Birkenau in about, it was the end of September of 1944, and we stayed in Birkenau, I would estimate, about three weeks.

E: Approximately, yeah. B: That's when we were finally selected to go to a labor camp, and that was Gleiwitz, and we stayed in Gleiwitz until the beginning of February when the Russians were approaching. That's when the Germans abandoned the camp, and uh, that's when we started marching out. Once we knew that the Germans run away because of the oncoming Russian Army, we started marching. We left the camp hoping that we would wind up at home, which we did. Well, no, I'm sorry, I skipped a very important part. When they saw, when the Russians were approaching, the Germans at that point made us march in towards Germany.

E: What happened is that the Germans naturally seeing the front advancing didn't want to wait. They have uh, started to, on the run and took us, made us go with them, and as we were marching, could, a majority of the people were killed during the march, because they couldn't keep up. And, as we continued with them, as, uh... B: Anybody who became tired, and it was very easy to become tired since we were undernourished and exhausted, of course, anybody not being able to keep up in the march was shot right there, and a number of people never made it to the next camp that they took us, which was Blechhammer, and we stayed there about a couple nights with the Germans, and then, from there on, they started running and left us behind. That's where they left us behind, in Blechhammer, and that's later on when we decided to--I'm capsulizing the whole thing, of course--uh, we decided to get out and start marching towards our former home.

E: What happened there was uh, when the Germans left, and, we were all hungry and uh, everybody was trying to get into the warehouses where the food was stored, and we started to eat food which your stomachs were not able to, to, to absorb because of the several months of... B: ...starvation.

E: Starvation, and what was happening was that people got diarrhea and got sick, and we realized immediately that to stay there, it would be disastrous. B: Also, the sanitary conditions uh, whatever we had, broke down completely once the Germans abandoned the camp, and typhus was a very good possibility, so...

E: We started immediately uh, a group of us. Our father, the two of us, plus uh, a cousin, two cousins of ours and several other people from... B: We had total of eleven people.

E: Eleven people from Czechoslovakia. We started literally on foot, walking towards home and uh, stopping naturally different nights in different villages and in different homes uh, we have, ended up sleeping in abandoned German homes. People, Germans, who fled, worried about the, uh... B: Russians.

E: Russians, oncoming Russian Army, they fled their homes. In many cases we came into a home, we still found a warm stove, because they just ran away. We made ourselves comfortable for the night and tried to find some food, and uh, which was prepared for us the next morning, continued towards uh, the next destination, the destination was home. But, going from day to day uh, marching and, um...

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