Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Paul Molnar - July 24, 2002

Evacuation From Berga


And there's a book about 'em also, which I got the name of the title, and the book I read it, but I don't have it. Anyhow, I was in Berga. And wor...I worked in the kitchen and I was surviving. Every-they liked to sit. Every night at six o'clock they locked the kitchen and guards, opened it up the German guards and let us out in the morning. That was the routine. So one night while we're in the kitchen, working, peeling the potatoes, we heard cannon fire, we heard guns. Oh we're really excited, we said that's it. Our liberators are just, must be ten miles, we don't know, but close, we can hear it. Well, we decided that if they don't know we're locked in this kitchen, so come six o'clock if they haven't opened we're going to break the doors down because we want them to know we're here and greet 'em. It came six o'clock, unfortunately our door was opened. It was still the German guards. Now by this time we didn't have any SS guards. We had what they called Volkstürm. These were old men, some were lame, who couldn't be on the front, they were injured, they're too old. 'Cause all the young men were already on the front. And they just went about their business but they were not the same kind of cruelty, you know. They opened up the door and they said "Okay, uh, be ready, in fifteen minutes take all your belongings"-which was a joke, we had no belongings-"because you're being evacuated. Well we were really bummed out. We didn't want to be evacuated we wanted to wait for our liberators. But they had the guns, so we had no choice. And we start marching and we march all day and we, we don't go through any towns. We only go through the woods you know, through the fields. So we, it's already Spring. So we get some carrots and whatever else, cabbage, whatever's on the ground and we just eat that, raw potatoes. And the water is very clear in the streams and we drink some water. And all along and we go, there were about 600 of us left out of the 1500. The others died and the Americans are not with us. Americans they take 'em separately. But out of the 1500 prisoners, 600 of us going on that march. So we started walking and, and until we can't go anymore and start to get shot. Although these are not as cruel as the SS, still they shoot you. Well by end of the day we must have lost a hundred. People are weak, they can barely move or they can't walk, they don't have the strength. They just give up. So there was another boy and I. He was from what is today the Ukraine. Uh, at that time it was one of the areas that Hungary got back from being the ally's-Germans. So he could speak Hungarian, he could speak German and he could speak Czech because prior-and he could speak Russian. Uh, prior to the uh, Second World War that was part of Czechoslovakia. Today it's the Ukraine. So he and I decide-he was my age, that we're going to keep on going. In the next few days it's going to be down to the last hundred and they're going to shoot us all. We gotta get away. So we-it's, it's a mountainous area, the Sudetenland. During the night, as I said, these are not the same kind of guards and there's no fence around us. We sneak away and we climb up on the ??? and they're hunting cabins there and we go into one of the cabins which is not locked. And we wait 'til morning, when we hear the guards waking everybody up we peak down there and we notice they count you, but a number were missing. Not just us. But after a few minutes they don't care. You know, the guy, all they want to do is get rid of us all so they can go home and hide you know, from the Americans or Russians. So off they go. So we come down and we feel really good because we're free. But we gotta go somewhere, we can't just be there. So we go to a farmhouse. They won't open the door, we go to another farmhouse and we tell 'em what's there-we tell 'em we're, we're Jews who just escaped and we need a place to hide until the uh, Allies get here to liberate us. We're sure that they'll take us in because you, it gives them plus mark right, I mean, this time we're not worried about it. Slammed the door on us. ??? They say, "dirty Jews, if you don't get away from here we're calling the police." Well, the police gets us we're going to be killed, so after about three or four houses we just gave up. We don't know what to do, we can't go into town. We don't know where we are. So we decided-sounds silly today, but I guess it made sense-we decided our best bet is to catch up with our group because as long as we kept marching, nothing's going to happen to us. So we caught up and guard saw us to join up. They didn't care. At this point, they really did not care. We went through the same bit next night. We climbed up and came down. We entered the first house, lady opened the door we talked to 'em in German, she spoke German but she also spoke Czech. So my friend Ignac Cohen-his name was Ignac Cohen, he could talk to her in Czech, which he spoke better than German. What happened was overnight we crossed the border, we were in Czechoslovakia and they hated the Germans just like we did because they been subjugated already for six, seven years. She immediately took us in. She took us in the barn where she kept, they kept the cows. She got us hot water, which was terrific, get washed. She had a son about our age. She got us some clothes, which was way too big on us, but she took away all this uniforms we were wearing, this prisoner stuff and disposed of it. She fed us, which made us sick. She gave us milk and cake and bread. Our system couldn't handle that so we just threw up and had diarrhea, but that went away after a day or two. And we stayed with this lady and she came in everyday and she was telling us-and her husband and son. Her name was uh, Mrs. Weiss, Hannah Weiss. And uh, she told us you know, what's happening. And then one day she came in she said to us, "Boys, the war is over. The Germans are gone and you're free." What happened was, I happened to be in an area uh, that was never liberated. Because-and, and the day the war ended May 8th it was still under German control. There were only a few pockets like that. So I was free and she said to us, you can stay here with us or if you don't want to you know, you make the decision. Well both he and I wanted to go back home because we wanted to see uh, what-how many were-what happened to our family. I mean, we were hoping that maybe we're not the only ones who survived. So he and I said-he and I went to Prague together and by this time HIAS, which is the Hebrew.

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