Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

John Mandel - May 26, 1981

Conditions on Train

Did they give you any food on the train?

No. I mean, every--most of us had some food and, and whoever didn't have some food we just shared it. And so--we were only on that particular train uh, the car for a couple of days, so we had enough food to get us through those two days. [telephone rings]

Did anything outstanding happen in the box car?

I think any--everything that happened there was, was out of the ordinary. I really...Uh, nothing, nothing there was normal. Everything was abnormal.

Can you give me any examples?

Well uh, it's the first time I ever slept standing up. Uh, uh, first time I ever had somebody sleep on my shoulder and uh, me sleeping on somebody else's shoulder. Um, the body odor became unbearable. And all the secretion and everything else that uh, after. It didn't take very long for that. And the air in there was extremely foul and [pause] Nothing, as I said before, nothing, nothing in there was normal.

Was there straw on the ground?

I don't remember. I didn't get to see the ground. We were too close together. We did have enough room to turn around, but that, that was about it.

But standing up only.

But uh, if, if somebody, if there was some older people there, we did make a little room for them to sit down. But uh, there wasn't that much room. I mean, you could only make an exception to a very small child or an older person. We did do that. But um, that's about as much as you could do.

Do you have any idea how many people were in the car?


You said you knew at that point you weren't going where you were supposed to be going. Did you have any idea where you were going to be going?

No. No, we--I, I realized that uh, we couldn't possibly--first of all, it, it shouldn't have taken that long to get there. And then uh, pretty soon we, we saw uh, some people have traveled and they've known that uh, that the direction we were going in, we, we realized we're going to Poland . And so, of course, we knew we weren't going where they told us we're going to go.

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