Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Herman Marczak - May 12, 1982

Bergen-Belsen Military Base

In Bergen-Belsen, yeah, units of the German army and they were withdrawing. We, we didn't know that. They were withdrawing to, to participate in the fight for Bergen.

I see.

Yeah. And that area was already surrounded from the British take it down when we came in there.

Is that--well, do you remember the date you're talking about?

Oh yeah, sure I remember. That would, that would have been the first week of April. Will be either the 5th or the 6th or the 7th. The first, the first few days in April. We--there was no organization whatsoever. We--they let us in on those--in those, in those units, you know, go and do whatever you want. If somebody didn't--if we didn't get no food, there was no kitchen, there was no nothing. So we stayed there and we saw from time to time we saw German soldiers. They, they never saw a thing. Things like this, prisoners from con...from concentration camps and Hungarian soldiers were there. And the only, and the only food we got they were uh, had some places where they picked up potatoes and they put them on, on wagons with horses and, and, and took them to, to pla...to places where they still cooked, cooked in there. So we just throwed down whole potatoes and, you know, in some kind of vegetables in those wagons that we should grab it. And whoever was lucky enough to grab it, and that was his food at that time.

A raw potato?

Yeah, raw potatoes, something like that. A few days later...

You mean you just roamed around the camp?

Yeah, not, not we--everybody had around--we had buildings to go in because the buildings were empty. But there were no organization anymore.

But didn't the SS see you walking around?

They let us walk around. They were just guarding because they got a note and not to let us on the loose. They just--they were just guarding around the fences. They let us.

Was the camp overrun by people at that point? Were there--was there crowded conditions?

Oh it was thousands of people, from every, from every place--wherever they didn't have where to put them, so they direct them there.

I see.

Yeah. Day and day people kept on coming in, kept on coming in. So a few days later all of a sudden in the morning we saw in a cross they established their, their command. We saw a white flag on the command. And the SS got white arm bands. It was--but still we were not free. All of a sudden April the 14th or the 15th, and that was in the afternoon we saw tanks coming by, tanks without an end. Tanks and tanks and tanks. We saw it was not German tanks. We didn't know it was American or British or Russians, but we saw it was, it was in another army, it was not anymore, anymore the Germans. So they were going by there and in the evening everything quieted down. And the Germans were still guarding that camp. That is the character of the German people, they were guarding that camp. And we were....

The German SS or were they...

Yeah, the same SS...

...Ukrainian SS?

No, the German SS. There were no Ukrainians over there. There was units from the Hungarian army who were usurped from the German SS.

I see.

So at that time, in the middle of the night all of a sudden every, every few minute it, it, it became light with the, you know, the British, they were hiding in the woods. They were giving signals to the airplanes not to bomb them or something like that.

I see.

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