Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - August 13, 1984


How long were you working then, in Schlieben?

In Schlieben? I worked in Schlieben, I worked over there from July 'til April.

Until the Liberation?

No, 'til the Liberation. Yeah, but then they picked us up and they put us into boxcars for ten days, we were locked in and I don't know where, where they took us to. They must... We were drive... we were, we were, we were traveling with hardly any food. I'll never forget it, once we were raided by the Americans. The train stopped, the guard ran away, and they left us over there in the open. I saw... Now this, it'll give you an idea what we were like and what kind of a, what level we were in. I found that eight plum pits next to a piece of manure. I took them out of there, I wiped it off with whatever I was able to wipe it off with, and I took out of the pits and I ate them. There was one man who was a very kosher man, he, he actually ate grass. He, he just eat it. We were left over there in the open, we could have gone any place, anywheres, but then you didn't know where to go, you didn't even know where you were. So we finally arrived, I mean, after so many years, we finally arrived, I mean, in Theresienstadt there too, rumors were going around, I mean, that, that the war is practically over and that the uh, Germans are going to kill us off. Machine gunning us.

What was it like in Theresienstadt?

Theresienstadt was already uh, it was better than it was uh, anywheres else, it was better than it was in Schlieben, it was better than it was in Buchenwald.

Were there SS guards there?

Oh sure, they were walking around and they were looking and looking us over.

Not Wehrmacht?

SS, oh, they, they were laughing and enjoying like, like the, the, you know, Reich is going to last God knows for how long. And naturally, you automatically take it and you take off your Mütze and you, you salute 'em.

What happened in the final days?

Oh, the Russians came in. You didn't know whether they were Russians or whether they were something else. But we noticed that the people were coming back, it was just as much of a chaos because people started to get sick. They started to extract typhus. They really started to get sick. I, I had typhus and I, I was put into a hospital. I had diarrhea and, and I had typhus and I was put into a hospital. I was, I lost... I was eighty pounds. I couldn't sit down. I lost my hair, I lost uh, uh... I just couldn't walk, I couldn't sit down, I couldn't walk, I couldn't sit down because I was just uh, bone. Period. There was not even a piece of flesh. But then I was treated in the hospital, there was a Jewish nurse and uh, she was from Chernovtsy, from Romania. She took care of me.

Um, how long were you in the hospital?

I don't remember.

What do you remember next?

I remember that I was in a daze, I remember that I was very sick. I remember that, that uh, they gave me uh, I got better food, that, that I remember. I remember in, was in a... I was lying on the floor, on a mattress, but you would not call it a mattress because it was a Strohsack, you know, it, it was on, on a sack that was full of uh, straw. That's what I was lying over there and they used to come in occasionally and used to look us over.

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