Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

John Mandel - May 26, 1981

Food After Liberation

What did you do after you were liberated?

At first uh, gained my strength back. They, they more or less uh, brought us back on, practically on baby food. Once they, once the uh, occupation force, the American Army realized what happened to the people that ate the regular food, they realized that they had to give us special consideration. And perhaps, they must have had, perhaps they had the experience of other camps that they had liberated and, you have to realize that the first people that came in contact with us were not medical people, these were just average GIs. And they were just trying to do what they felt was the right thing to do and of course, it turned out it wasn't. But when the medical people came in, of course uh, I remember a number of ambulances pulled in almost immediately after that fiasco and uh, they gave us uh, some very light foods uh, some light uh, uh, cereals and different things like that. And they brought us slowly--they nursed us back. And it, it didn't take all that long before we were able to take uh, regularly cooking and... And then, and then uh, we were there for a short period of time. Uh, I was, this is when uh, I must have been released uh, was liberated on the 5th and this uh, this particular document is dated the 28th. And I, I'm not sure whether that was the day when I left the camp or almost immediately uh, thereafter. So uh, according to this here I was there for about three weeks after we were liberated.


And uh, with this document I was able to go back to my original home. Uh, this was um, uh, uh, I could cross any border at that time with this, get on any, any public transportation with this particular document. Uh, it was free transportation. And they were uh, at different places the uh, the J.O.I.N.T., the American J.O.I.N.T. Committee, and the--I think basically it was the J.O.I.N.T. Committee--they had, they had places where, where you could go and lodge and you could go and have a meal. And they gave you some clothing and uh, generally assisted you to get back home where you came originally. And uh, when I got back home uh, I, I had heard that my father and my brother had survived. Uh, my brother escaped and uh, through that escape he was able to save my father who was really left for dead. And uh, I found out uh, that they, they had gone back home, so I of course, I headed back home. And when I got back to my home, I found that the, that the area was occupied by the Russians. It was no longer Czechoslovakia, it was, it was, that part was uh, uh, actually today it belong--it's part of the Russian Ukraine. Uh, this was part of the uh, one of the Yalta or Potsdam agreements that uh, Roosevelt made with Stalin. And uh, when I found that uh, I, I found my father there. My brother had gone looking for me. So we had crossed paths. And I found my father there. And when I saw that the Russians were there, I didn't want to have anything to do with that and I immediately--I stayed only there a couple days and I left. I went to Praha, which is the capital city of Czechoslovakia. And eventually found my way back to Germany and my father and my brother came there and eventually we migrated to the coun...to the United States.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn