Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Herman Opatowski - November 2, 1981

Escape from Germans

...and he ordered us to get up and to go with the group. So we went into the forest. Went to the forest, it was a, a, an el...an older, elder SS-man. Young there were and eldest, the elder he was a, a little uh, I don't know, he was afraid a little on his life because he was one, because the other were busy with the other people who were running around, hiding around uh, uh, the, the, the trees. And, and he came to, even to me with them and he said "Lay down, lay down, lay down." We start running. So he runned, he runned uh, with, with his uh, carbine to, to, to, you know, of course he was carrying around, but he couldn't, he couldn't uh, get to that, to the point. So the minute I saw he slowed down he start running there and I had the chance, I took my, my, this uh, this end, and I ??? I called him to the camp, we went and we laid on the ground. So, and I kept, be quiet now, let this, this group pass by us. We are dead. They pass dead, so we are laying around. As they passed by, I move--I start to move myself next to was there laying there six or eight laying there. So I said to him, "Come on, move, let's go un...under those bodies." So we moved. And uh, as I start, I moved under the bodies or half, not completely, a little I thought that the legs and things to cover me, that's all. You know, and he did the same. And we, of course, we have to keep quiet. And all the time I hear the, the, you know, the crying and the, the, the this loud uh, you know uh, the shooting with the whole thing around and we kept quiet 'til it got dark. And, of course it still--I, I will make more than sure that everything was over. It took me about half an hour out, it was quiet completely. Completely quiet. So I said to, to my partner, you know, "Let's see what's, what's going on." It was a very cold night and it was the end of February, beginning of March I think. It was very, very cold, awful cold, one of those dry, the dry, cold weather. So we got up and we saw laying around like the flies. And uh, this was uh, of course uh, we went through a lot after this, but this was the moment that we uh, uh, were free. It took us another ten days to be free, to get out of this place there, because we didn't know where we are, we didn't know where to go. We didn't know east, west, north, south, we didn't know nothing. And we didn't have uh, food, nothing. So this is not maybe, the rest is not too ???. But this is the way I was liberated. That's it.

So you found out...

I was one of let's say, fifteen hundred I think it was. Not one, it was myself and this guy. And then when we walked around in the nighttime in the forest, we thought, we saw other pe...two or three I think. They say they got out. We didn't even want to talk one to the other. Just, we shouldn't make a big group. All right, get lost, run away. It took us another ten days from that liberated.

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