Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - May 11, 1982



A Gendarme. He was called ???. He had a black hat with black feathers. He was six feet tall, he was about 200 pounds. He had a green uniform...an olive green uniform or maybe a little...yes, shoulder belts around him. Was always marching with his bayonet...not with the bayon...I mean his rifle and bayonet hooked onto his rifle...attached to his rifle, rather. And a pistol over here and with boots and on the boot he used to have these...what is it called? Spurs. Every time when you knew, when you knew...you knew a Gendarme was marching you heard them a mile away. And these are the people who walked in...there's a helpless people over there. In fact, four of them...had to send four people like that with six bayonets, breaking down the door, pointing the bayonets towards you and tell you, "Get up, you dirty Jew." You know, there's something...it's ironic. I must have been a very, very strong Jew just half-asleep when you...when I, when I have to be...or, or the household...our house and this is not only us. I want you to understand that this everybody. Everybody's house was taken the same way...was broken down...doors were broken down the same way. Not only by the same four...they must have had a whole platoon or somebody...a whole platoon of, of Gendarmes who were doing that and how they kept this as a secret, I'll never know but they kept it. Usually it's a small community, you wouldn't know unless they brought them in, in the night while we were still asleep. And being so helpless as we are, here they had to take a whole platoon with six bayonet...one man alone would have been sufficient. But something...I'm strong and I've, and I've got to say this: I'm very proud of it because when we were...my, my father, my fath...my mother, my mother...let me say I forgot to mention something. My father got up to go to shul. He always did get up six o'clock in the morning to go to shul. As he was going to shul, one of our customers said to him, "You dirty Jew, this is the last time you'll ever put on that prayer...you're ever going to pray. Go home." And my father arrived and he told us that he was sent back and we didn't know that the Gendarmes were coming, we were still asleep. He didn't tell us that, that the Gendarmes were going to come in and uh, we didn't know absolutely that no Gendarmes was at the time uh, but, but he went to, to...it must've been a little bit after six then all of a sudden hell broke loose.

Did you know that the Germans had occupied the area?

You know, I'm glad that you asked that question. You know, we didn't know...we knew this much: that on the east...the eastern...we were part of...not far from Bessarabia and Bukovina and the Germans were already retreating from that area and we saw a lot of German automobiles, a lot of German soldiers, and we saw all kind of weaponry equipment going...retreating from them. And how these people still had the time and uh, requisition the trains and to pick us up...they were already running from the Russians and it's amazing how these people could still do that. They should've been busy with their own. They should've taken those trains and put the, the equipment on their trains in...in...in...instead of setting aside so many boxcars, I mean, for us to pick us up and take us to Auschwitz.

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