Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - May 11, 1982

Being Transported in Boxcars

Just briefly...


You, you uh, were in this, sort of ghetto in the forest? Is that what you...

That was a ghetto. All of us were, were placed in that ghetto.

How long were you there?

We were there about three weeks to be exactly because I remember we were picked up erev Shavuot. We were herded into the box cars on erev Shavuot. And at that time we were turned over already to the Germans. Up until then we were under the Hungarian authorities. But we were, we were, as you would say, detailed out to the Germans to do the work, for the Germans. I suppose slowly, slowly they turned us over to, to, to the Germans.

But where'd they take you in a train to?

Well, on the train...that's when they herded us into the train and they put us in about...into the boxcars and then...oh God, not only did they do that, they started to beat us. That was, that was the day that we were really started to be beaten up by them...when they started to really use the whips, and uh, I can just see how...with their, with their rifle butts. There was...on one side, there was the Hungarians and the other side there were the, the Germans. And they started to scream and yell, "Get in!" And before, you know, we had to leave everything. They hardly gave you anything to take along with you. But that little bit that they gave you to take along with you, they checked you over like, like, like uh, you are carrying, you know, you had to undress yourself. They, they, they checked you all over to see whether you have any gold or, or any valuables. And uh, I don't have to tell you how these uh, religious Jews feel about undressing themselves in the open.

Men, women?

Men, women, it didn't matter, anything. It didn't matter. I think it was, it was just, you know uh, it was just chaos. That's when really chaos started. Then they started to rush us into the, the boxcar. They didn't even give us, you know, they didn't put steps, because you know how a boxcar is, you have to jump up. How can an old woman and an old man go and get up there and, and jump into it? You try to help each other, you know, we the youngsters helped and we, you know, and we put them in there. And you have to do it very fast because they were very impatient at that time. And finally, they locked us in there and, and they, they give us a bucket...a couple of buckets. And you know when, when you are being beaten and you have to take care of your personal needs, your physical needs, oy. What confusion and what type of people these were. I, I, I will never forget them. And then we were about 70 to 80 people in the uh, in those box cars. It was hot, too. And you know what the Jews did? You know what we did? We started to pray. And then rumors started to go around. Kids were crying, young mothers, children, young girls, young boys, elderly people. And we were still there and then finally in the night...before night, the train started to move. I remember, we davened mincha, and ma'ariv and we davened. And we prayed and for three days we were cooped up in that boxcar. Once in a while, they allowed us to empty those buckets and the stench, and can you imagine over here the perspiration on everybody and the body odors and some people were very sick. Some people couldn't even get to that little bucket. And when you finally did get to the bucket, there was no room to sleep and if you did find a place then you were sitting like this...your stomach because you know, you still...you were still a human being. You were still a decent guy to try because you had respect for the elders. And we had respect for, for the elders so we try because we knew exactly many of them were sick people. So we try to give them a little bit more room so they would be able to stretch out. But you know how these elderly people are, they, they were uh, they would just ???. And the childrens' crying at nights, and people got a little bit hysterical. It was chaos, it was mamesh, just chaos. And then, finally we arrived in Auschwitz. And these, these...the train stopped suddenly and all of a sudden these, these vultures...these SS and, and some of the Häftling, and the prisoners came in with their clubs in their hands and they were knocking at the door and they were screaming, yelling, "Raus! Raus! Heraus Yidden! Raus! Verdammte Jude! You jackass Jew, you." Everything...every word that was just coming into their mouth they said it and then they were clubbing us, then you have to jump off. They threw out the kids like, like, like they were garbage. And then they wanted you to stand in line. They wanted...they told you, "Don't take your luggage with you. We'll take it. You'll get it later on in your, in the barracks. We'll deliver it to you." And that's when it really started.

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