Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - August 13, 1984

Going to Auschwitz

How long were you in the, in this field?

We were there for three weeks.

And then what happened?

For three weeks and then, one Friday, it was the Friday before Shevuoth, I remember it was Friday, Saturday, what was it, yes, all of a sudden, they just uh, with a loud speaker, they said, "Get yourself ready and go over to, to the railroad station." It was not even a railroad station, it was just some sort of a railroad spur over there of some kind. And that's where they started us, they handed, handed us buckets, and they uh, threw us into those boxcars. Eighty of us in a boxcar. They didn't even write your name or who you are or what you are or something like that, they just threw you into a boxcars. And those people who couldn't get into the boxcar, the younger ones had to help them, they couldn't help them, then the gendarmes used to kick them so that he should be able to move. So, you finally did get into... About seventy or eighty was in the boxcar and the minute we got over there, they locked us up.

What do you remember about the boxcar?

I remember about the boxcar, it was hot. We were cramped. We couldn't, we couldn't, we, we... That's all we had, there was no room to sit. We couldn't even see out the boxcar. Even that little window that was over there, it was wired up with, with barbed wire. And when you have old people and, and everybody is scared, little kids are crying, it was nothing but chaos and pandemonium. It was absolutely nothing that you can do. I, I, I looked at my mother and father, she was just sitting there and, and her mind was going God almighty, what she was thinking. And see, my father was just quiet, quiet, quiet, he did not say very much. And we started to daven, and we daven, and usually, you know they did the prayers. Some of the prayers we have over there, God help us... You know, somehow they had a feeling that we are like little sheep right now and they are sending us somewheres and, and to a, to a, to a, an unknown place. Who is going to come back, who is going to survive, who is going to live, what will happen to us, what will happen to us? I am sure that the older people, I mean, over there they knew that this was their last ride wherever they are going to go.

Had you heard of Auschwitz?

No, I've never heard of Auschwitz. I've never heard of Auschwitz until I got to Auschwitz. In Czechoslovakia, I don't know, after traveling for so far, for so long, they finally opened the door and there was immediately there were two German guards over there, watching us. And they watched us for us to go and empty. I was one of them who had to empty, I mean, the buckets. We really didn't matter. You know it, as I think about it, here are people, religious people, who always wore long clothes and they were, you know, their privacy was so... It was, I, I don't even, I can't even find the name, I mean, here is a man who is a religious man, and then he has to go and, and, and, and take care of his personal need right in front of so many people. I bet many of them just, just held it, they would rather suffer, pain, than go out and, and, and, and empty their bowels or bladders in, in, in front of people. Some of them couldn't take it any longer. We didn't even have anything, I mean, to put up some sort of a, a, a, a, a sheet or, or, or, or clothes, I, I, I to, to... We didn't have enough clothes to, to put, to make a uh, uh-what is it called?-a uh, I can't think of the word right now. What?

A curtain.

A curtain, yes... To uh, we couldn't do it, there was no room. And then, we were standing, some of 'em collapsed, and then we decided to divide ourselves, I mean, to change... First of all, one group of people are going to be able to, to try to sit for a little while and then change around but it didn't last for very long because some of them they couldn't even get up, I mean, they were, they were sitting down...

How long were you on the train?

We were for three days on the train. It was Shevuoth.

Did people die on the train?

If they were not dead, they died right the minute the SS walked, I mean jumped into in Auschwitz, when we got to Auschwitz.

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