Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Krystal - September 19, 1996

Death March

Now how long did this go on, that you were working there?

This, this went on until uh, the Soviets came close and they were evacuating Birkenau and Buna and we were marched to Birkenau to start with. And then we were put on the death march towards Gleiwitz.

In Germany.

On the German side of the border in Silesia, very close to the border. And there we were put in a, overnight in a, in a factory, not in a camp, but in the factory. And the particular group that I was with, the next day they loaded us on. Well, again I was on an open wagon. I think most of them were open wagons. And I was together with two fellows from Sosnowiec who were also my friends, became my friends there and we were helping each other. And that increased our chances of survival. For instance, we were able to get a corner in the wagon. And this was a wagon, this was a transport where, I don't know how many days, I think maybe six days they gave us no food, but there was snow. We were eating the snow that fell on ea...each other. And uh, when we went through Prague the people were going over a, a viaduct over the train [pause] and they threw down uh, bread and I caught it. But before I could do anything with it, everybody that was strong in the wagon jumped on me and just tore it apart. I don't know who got what, just, it went by power and uh, I don't even know if I got a piece of bread or not. And uh, so this transport eventually ended up in Buchenwald. And uh, in Buchenwald uh, they unloaded the, the dead bodies. Big, big pile. And they put us in a barrack that is, that, huge barrack, outside of the regular camp. And they just left us there. There was nothing to do except standing in transport. I think on one occasion I managed to get taken to work, to Weimar, to uh, clean some rubble that they wanted cleaned up. And uh, this uh, went on for some time. And then it turned out that the Siemens company was looking for the people on their list. And they managed to find a considerable number and took us to a separate barrack. And then they got a special train for us and gave us a loaf of bread and water and loaded us, just maybe ten people in a wagon, in a covered wagon with the door open with the Germans on the other side of the wagon. And they were shipping us to a place they wanted us to work in Sudetenland somewhere. And uh, on the way there, we saw Dresden after it bombed out, it was still smoking. Uh, it was another awesome sight. But for us, we, we, we, we, we could, before they evacuated us from Auschwitz, we could already hear uh, machi...uh, uh, the explosions of various things. We didn't know what it was. We thought that maybe they were cannons or something like that. We could hear cannons all the time. So uh, also on the, so therefore the sight of Dresden uh, made us think that maybe the, the end is near. And, and also, while on the uh, this trip the Germans announced that Roosevelt died. Well, they again, they tried to get us through, they kept sending us back and forth. And they couldn't get us through. So they sent us to Siemensstadt. Actually I don't, at this moment I don't remember which was the proper order, I think that they took us from Buchenwald and sent us to Siemensstadt first and we worked there in the Siemens factory and we stayed in a special camp. And uh, not a special camp but a separate camp. And we worked there uh, for just a short time. And then one day there was a, a uh, bombardment uh and we went down to the basement to uh, it was like the third basement for shelter and when we came out Siemensstadt, which was a suburb of Berlin, was gone. So they kept us for a few days there and then they tried to send us to, to Sudetenland. And then we came back, after they sent us everywhere and they sent us back to Sachsenhausen.

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