Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Herman Opatowski - November 2, 1981

Death March

When were you uh, liberated?

I was liberated at the...When they liquidated uh, Auschwitz, where they, where they closed Auschwitz, they locked up and they took us, I was with the death march. And I may say, as I, I wasn't liberated until the end of the war. I had a chance but is that much to, it's not run away, I would say run away it would be exactly because you couldn't run away. But uh, I was hiding under the--and they took us into a forest. And uh, they took groups uh, twenty, thirty a group and uh, uh, they, the Gestapo, they, they didn't have trains for us to take us further. So they had a order to, to finish us up. So they finished us up. They took us...They took in the groups, let's say fifty a group and uh, they finished up the other fifty. But some from the first group, from the fifty--an example it was fifty, I don't know, maybe it was thirty--they run out from the fellows...

[interruption in interview]

You, you were saying about the uh, death march.

Yeah uh, yeah, what I uh, what I started to, to tell you the death march, so, so when they, they took in a group and they start to uh, finish them up. But what uh, they didn't have, if they would have the, they, they had just the carbines the, the Gestapo, the SS. They didn't have the, the short weapons. So with the carbine it wasn't so easy to, to finish them up because they were too near. To most of them he said uh, he said, "Stop! You shouldn't run, or, or lay down." You know, they were wired. And they start to run around. So from a group, let's say twenty or thirty uh, uh, four, five they run out from the forest. And they run out, they came back and we, we, we were led uh, going there, as I mentioned to you, groups, as twenty or thirty a group. They, they took us there. And now they said, "Oh, they are taking you to, to uh, finish you up, don't go, don't go." "What do you mean, don't go?" We have to go when, when we are twenty people and there are ten, ten uh, Gestapo ??? taking us there. I know. To make the long story short, so on... I was let's say, almost I tried, every time that I got closer to the, to the, to go into the forest, it was fields, just some fields. So excuse my explanation to you is uh, uh, the most of the people they headed away this time. They, they know, one run so, and the other one tried to, to sit down for the second. So they, they, they let him for a second. So what did I, did I do? Every few minute with my group I said I lowered things and I have to sit down. So the group went. Took another ten minutes, another group came here, they, they took me again. So and I did the same a few times until practically I was maybe almost at the last group let's say to go in there. One of those who were--from every group a few went back. It, it was with my group... Uh, by coming back uh, uh, uh, one who was running back was a friend of mine and uh, we were very close in the, from the same barracks, practically we ate together from one, one plate. So he said, "Herman, don't go there because they're killing." I said, "Where will I go, where should I go?" He said, "I runned out." He was a, a religious man, very intelligent, religious man, very religious. He said, "I runned out, I, I, I looked for somebody to stay with me there, there." So he's telling me this and uh, uh, he hardly couldn't stay on his feet. He said, "Herman, don't let me uh, lose time, I want to say the last prayer," you know, the Jewish ???. So I said "Go on," so he went on. And then I saw a group is coming. So I said to him, sit down so they, they will think that you're, you are, you are...

[interruption in interview]

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