Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Konstam - October 25, 1991

After Escape From Death March


Germans. Yeah. German. And I went in the house and she gave me good hot soup and some bread, and I sit there and eat. A uh, an officer comes in from the uh, opened the door and he comes in and says, "Where are you going?" So I said, "Well, I was marching here and I couldn't go anymore and they left me behind." He didn't believe what I said, you know. But he, he was a Wehrmacht, you know, which... Different again. And he just walked back in the room, didn't bother with me. I left and I ate and I had these potatoes with me and I walked, walked back in the forest and I went back to sleep. In the afternoon I got up and I was again hungry and I walked through the forest there. I could hear soldiers, German soldiers, all kind of drinking, laughing in there so I walked by there and they asked me where you going? I said I'm going to town. They didn't bother me either. I went to another farm and I got, I have something to eat and I, after I had to eat, I, could I sleep in your uh, barn or in the, or in the, the cows there. So he says, no you can't, because uh, I says, I am afraid. He say, I, I have some relatives come. I can't let you sleep here. And so I said okay. I went across the street, I went, I walked into the forest and I lay down. And it didn't take about fifteen, twenty minutes I hear some footsteps. There comes the farmer with a SS trooper, the gun in his hand. See, he gave me away. So. And uh, he says uh, to, for me to run. I says, I cannot run, I will not run. I can hardly walk. If you want to shoot me, go ahead shoot me. I said, I'll not run. So he walked me into town, this town in ???. It was a ???, name was the town. He took me over there to the uh, to jail. Or there was the, the uh, city hall so called, you know, small town. He had me stay with my hands up like this and he wanted uh, the uh, uh, the police uh, commander to come down and put me in jail. So he sent him down a message, said let him go. He didn't want to come. Meantime there were some soldiers uh, staying there, they were from the Air Force. And they had themselves a good time on my account. They said, "Why you going to waste a bullet on him, why don't we just hang him?" There were people gathering around me, you know, like this all day. So they, let's hang him here. And at that point there was an air raid from the French air force, an air raid. So they all ran for cover, and he kept me there. And um, finally that uh, the police commander came down and opened the jail and uh, he put me in there. I come in there, there was a Russian boy in there sleeping already. Uh, and uh, maybe his name was, Sasha. The uh, I said, how did you get here. Oh, some dog uh, squealed on me, you know. And they got him, and they put him in jail. I said, look, I says, "I have a few potatoes here with me." I says, "Tomorrow we won't need them anymore because I knew what the situation was. They take you out and shoot you." So I said, "Get up, let's eat up those potatoes." And we uh, we ate 'em up and then I, we went to bed to uh, uh, wasn't bed, was a straw mattress there and we laid down and sleep. During the night I heard it's awfully quiet outside. I was thinking there must be some change there. They break in and I heard a pair of boots in the uh, corridor. And we heard him unlock the door. In comes a guy with a brown leather jacket, brown boots. That was civilian clothes. I says, "Where are we going for the execution?" He says to me, you can go any place you want. The war is over. It was one, it was a story of one day and one night.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn