Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - August 13, 1984

Arrival at Auschwitz

Tell me what happened when the doors opened at Auschwitz.

Well, before the doors was op... opening, I mean, we heard the, the, the train screeched and, and, and then we all of a sudden, we... They came and they, they knocked at the doors and we heard voices, dogs barking, and uh, you know, Jewish language, German language, "Heraus, Heraus," you know, it sounded... And then there were people were jumping in, dogs were jumping in with them. And they were screaming and yelling, "Heraus! Heraus! Heraus!" you know, and you were confused. There was nothing... And one guy walked in, he must have been a prisoner, he says, he says to me in Yiddish, "Hast du Gold? Hast du Brillianten? Do I have gold or do I have diamonds?" I looked at the guy, is he crazy or something? And then I saw people been thrown out of there. And I saw older people, they had to go and, and, and jump out of the train. The platform was low and the train was high and people were beaten, and then when we walked out of there, we finally got out of the train, out of those boxcars, all of a sudden, there was a stench hit you and you didn't know what that is. And nobody told you what is going to happen, nobody told you where you are, what's going on. The only thing that you saw, you saw SS, and we saw prisoners in striped clothes, and I saw dogs who were sniffling, and I saw people being beaten up and they tell you to stand in line and then way in the distance you hear music, a band playing. My God, it was such a confusion, I mean, you didn't know what was going on. So then all, then, then finally, after we were all out of the train, I remember my mother and father were next to me and my brothers, my two, three of us, no four of us, six of us, we were together, and this man came, this tall SS man, and he pointed with a finger. He put my foot, the three of us, the three older brothers together and my little kid brother there. He was with us. And I told my little brother, I said to him, "Solly, geh zu tata and mommy." Go with my... And like a little kid, he followed, he did. Little did I know that, that I sent him to, to the crematorium. I am, I feel like I killed him! My brother who lives now in New York, he used to live in South America, every time we would see each other, he talks about it, and he says, "No, I am responsible, because I said that same thing to you, and it's been bothering me too." I've been thinking, whether he has reached my mother and father and when he did reach my mother and father, he probably told them, he says, [in German] "Avram told me to go stand with you." I wonder what my mother and father were thinking, especially when, when they were all, when they all went into the uh, crematorium. I can't get it out of my head. It hurts me, it bothers me, and, and I... I don't know what to do. I feel that I am responsible for that and my brother says to me that I am not responsible for it because he is as much responsible as I. But there isn't very much that... I guess I'll have to live with it.

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