Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Konstam - October 25, 1991

Death March II

When you walked up to the soldier and asked him to shoot you, what did he say?

Oh, he didn't want to do that. Make life, make death, make easier on you to die. He kicked me and says, "Go on, march."

Were there people being shot on the march?

Oh, many, many, many. If you fell, if on the marches if you fell, you were dead. You couldn't get up because people mar... uh, step right over you. And if you were in ??? they shoot you. If you fell, you, you were done. We had those clumps uh, wooden clumps that we walked in. It was wintertime. It was snow. The snow got into your uh, you know these uh, wooden shoes.


Yeah, clogs. And uh, you just walked on ice all the time. You know, the ice, the snow got in into this and got uh, icy. If uh, if we could uh, if you're hungry and if you saw, let's say if you went to a field and you saw like uh, the uh, some kinda, a ??? or something and you wanted to pick up, you know. You were afraid because if you went down, they will kill you, and they shoot you, you know. But if we, I remember sometime we had a, a raw potato, you shared it with, with the uh, guy that walked with you, you know. You know, uh, 'cause a raw potato tasted better than an apple today or an orange today, you know. Anything could be... But if you uh, we uh, we walked out from, from Jaworzno about, between fifteen hundred and two thousand people. And by the time we ended up, there were maybe about a hundred and fifty or two hundred people. People died, people uh, were killed. It, it was... And, and they uh, and on the trains yet they, people died, you know. Uh, and um, so at that time I made up, I made up my mind that I am going to escape tonight. You talk about a person that couldn't... I couldn't walk. How are you gonna escape? This is the uh, mentality of a, how, how it is uh, mind over matter. So we had a blanket with me, everybody had their blanket as they march. At the time I walked in the middle and two fellows kind of hold me by the arm, just support me, I was so weak and, and so full of pain in my uh, groin. And I said, you should let me out to the, into the outside of the row--you know, we're five in a, in a row--and outside. And uh, every uh, second or third row there was a soldier with a machine gun. And then we walked through the forest so there was a Schwarzwald. And I don't know where I took the courage, where I, I, or where I took the strength or where I had the... At all thinking power--I just jutted out into the forest. And before you know it I heard them shooting with the machine guns. I, when I got in the forest I just dropped on the ground, you know. And uh, there I was laying 'til I heard them saying, "Auf gehen und Weiter Marschieren" and they took the rest of 'em. They thought they probably killed me anyway. And they... Beside, I knew one thing, they wouldn't come after me, because if they come after me the rest of 'em go, more will run away. So they just shot uh, machine gun several people and I drop to the ground. After I heard 'em say, "Weiter Marschieren," I crawled in deeper into the forest. And when I got up, I don't know whether it was the following morning or was two days, I don't know how long I slept, but I found myself sleeping in a puddle of water all night, or two nights. I don't know how long I slept. I got hu... very hungry and I um, wanted to get up, I couldn't get up. I just couldn't get up because the pain in my legs and... So I crawled to the, to the next tree and I pulled myself up, found a cane, some kind of a stick in the woods. And I looked around where I was and I saw the edge of the wood. And I saw a farm. Walk to the farm, I don't know it was maybe, maybe about a thousand feet or whatever it was. Outside there was a Polish farmhand and I was in my, you know, striped uniform and he knew where I was. I said, "Could you give me something to eat?" He said, "Oh, I, all I have is some peeled potatoes." You know potatoes, but not the peel. I said that'll be just fine. So he gave me and I wanted to eat some. Then the lady, the farmer's wife came out from the house and she saw me and uh, she asked me, would you like to have some soup, some warm... I said, I certainly would. Uh, went in the house...

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