Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Michael Opas - [n.d.]

Liberation from Buchenwald

Well, you were liberated from Buchenwald?

Out of Buchenwald, yeah.

What was liberation day like?

Well it was...

Did you know it was coming?

Yeah, we knew the Americans came.

How did you know liberation was coming? Did the Germans leave one night and they were gone?

Oh, the Germans all of a sudden left. All of a sudden they left. We, we were hiding out. We, we know about--the rumors go around. We knew that something's happening. All of a sudden the, the Germans left.

You were hiding in Buchenwald?

In Buchenwald in the, in the--under, under the barracks we were hiding.

How come you went there--why?

Because they were still trying--the last day was--the last day they were, they were trying to, to kill as many as could--they could. All night we were in a--we were locked up--about six days we were locked up in a, in a factory of uh, uh, how you call it in English? A where they cut wood...

Lumber mill.

Lumber mill, yeah. My English is very poor unfortunately. Unfortunately.

It's fine, it's fine.

See, you have to help me out.

It's okay.

A lumber mill, yeah. We were locked up for six or seven days in a lumber mill. This was uh, and we knew something is, something is happening. So every day they took out a few hundred people from--there were about eight thousand people in there, or more. Before they were shotting--they were killing. A, a, a mess. Every day hundreds of people were missing. Finally they locked us up in a, in a lum...lumber mill--maybe eight thousand people or more--and starving us. No food whatsoever. The only food was the snow. This was, this was in April. The last snow was still the, in the--they were closed doors. We had to reach out from, from under the door and grab a, a piece of, of snow to lick it. This was the only food we had. On the sixth day they brought soup into the, into the, into the, into the lumber mill. There were eight thousand people and they brought about two or three cans. Can you imagine what happened? Nobody ate anything because we--first of all we didn't have any, any, any dishes. We didn't have any cups. They brought it and every...everybody fell like a crazy--hungry. Everybody tried to put in a, a, a hand to--into it, so got nothing. It was more on the floor than we had to eat. And this how we survived.

So how long were you in the lumber mill now?


How many days were in you the lumber mill? On the sixth day they brought the soup...

Six, six days. Actually six days. Yeah, in the meantime, they--we heard it shotting--shooting. Every night they were taking out hundreds of people. So one--the last night--I remember on the sixth night, I, I--there, there was a basement there in the, in the lumbermill with um, coals or--I don't know what was there. Not coals, or--me...metal pieces--I--metal pieces I think it was. I don't know. It was so, it was so dark, I couldn't even see. I know it was mountains of, of, of metal pieces. Maybe it was--I don't know what it was actually. But I hide--I was hiding there in the basement...

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