Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Maroko - February 19 & 26, 1986

Knowledge of Camps

You had heard of Mauthausen by 1942.

Mauthausen, yes.

What had you heard about that?

Um, that people were uh, killed there. Now that we knew that something had happened. It was not... It was something that was slowly but surely approaching. And we didn't like it.

D...do you remember the um, um, anything about the Jewish Council, the Joodserat?

I have lots of memories of the Jewish Council. Um, the... I wonder about direct memories. Can you stop it there? When I, myself, already had been brought by the Germans to the prison, which was the converted Dutch theater building um, there were people there who had a band. They were members of the Jewish Council. Their task was to see to it that we would get our meals and any other way could be of help to us. Um, I talked to one of them and asked, "Is there any way of escaping here?" I don't believe that he even gave me a direct answer. So I asked him, "Is there a john anywhere?" He said, "Yes. I said, please show me." So he brought me there. If you want me to continue I can tell you about my first escape from there.

Let's go ahead.

Um, I had been brought there with other personnel, employees of the Jewish hospital where I had been working in order to temporarily escape any deportation. My job there was civil defense. On that particular night um, I had worked there and in the morning um, we were told that we all had to report, including nurses in uniform, in the center court of that hospital. We were standing in line and then our names were mentioned. My name was mentioned. I saw there one of the two highest people in the Jewish Council there, the name of Braham Asscher. He was afterwards excommunicated for um, cooperating with the Germans. And uh, I asked him uh, would it do any good to rely upon in quotes, "Palestine papers." Through the Red Cross I had requested that a telegram be sent to someone in Palestine, and on the basis of that uh, it was alleged by me that uh, I might qualify to go to Palestine. And anyone who would have a paper like this from the Red Cross might perhaps uh, postpone any deportation. I asked him, "Would that help me any?" And he said, "When you get to Westerbork they'll take care of that." I was picked up with the others in a truck. And instead of going straight to the uh, to the prison, the Dutch theater, we were given a tour of the city, they went all around. And I was wondering, why in the world would they do that. We are not tourists. Because it was a very short distance. Anyway, we were unloaded there and, when we were there I a...here came the point when I asked someone whom I knew as an acquaintance who was working for the Jewish Council and he's the one who led me to this uh, to a row of johns, of toilets. I took either the one before the last. I probably didn't want to be in the last because then it might be too obvious that I had done this on purpose. And I waited there and I waited, uh... I acted in a very natural physical way there. If anyone will catch me I, I could say that I wasn't just standing or just sitting there. Um, and I remember after a long, long time I heard noise of people who were probably taken out onto the trains that went to Westerbork and then suddenly it became quiet. And maybe half an hour or so later, this was around one o'clock, roughly, and they left. Maybe it, it got quiet around twelve thirty or so. And I heard someone with uh, what do you call that um, not shoes but uh, uh, [bangs table] heels, um...

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