Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - May 11, 1982

Leipzig and Buchenwald

So, I remember we arrived in Leipzig and the guard opened the door and I was sitting next to the door on the boxcar so, and he says...he asked the other uh, German, I believe, he said, "Was gibt es Neues?" "What's going on in this war?" He said to him, "The Allies have landed." And I gave a kick to the guy who was sitting next to me. "Oy, gotenu, it's not going to last for very long, the Allies have landed." And uh, of course, the other German said to the guard who was walking guard duty in, in, in Leipzig, he says, "You know, we kicked them right back." Well, then he says, "Naturally, natürlich," you know, "Naturally," but we didn't pay attention to what they were saying to, to that and there was a little optimism, there was a little optimism. But when we finally...when we got to Buchenwald, this optimism uh, disappeared. There too, you went through the same routine. Not as...it was not a selection, a cadre there who were looking for you, you go here, you go there, I mean we were assigned to, to a barrack and then they said that from here on they would assign us to go to some labor camp. Buchenwald was the transit camp. It was not as bad as Auschwitz. In comparison what Auschwitz was like, when, when...every time you were getting out of the barracks, for instance, like you see here as, you know, like the doors, they were pretty wide...as wide as the door that you can see over there. And uh, you try to stay in the middle and not to be...you try to stay away from the reach of the guards so that you should not be beaten every time you have to go out and in for Appell, you know, in the morning, in the afternoon. And then they used to get you out just for the sake of getting you out and tell you to sit down on the, on the grounds over there. A whole day sitting down on the ground and then people...the SS, and the, and the Kapos, and the Vorarbeiters...they were just going and looking at you to see something. I mean, maybe, they're just looking at somebody, just to pick out something maybe they didn't like. I found out afterwards that a friend of mine, that I've known from my...not from my hometown...who worked in my hometown, he said he couldn't take it and he threw himself on the wire. They tried to prevent him a couple of times from that and they uh, they tried to prevent him a couple of times from, from, from throwing himself into the wire. I found out this after the war. But he too wasn't with us because I didn't see him. You know, we didn't see a lot of people after we came home. So uh, the first thing somebody told me was this that he threw himself in the wires.

Did you see other people doing that?

No, I didn't see that. I, I didn't see the people.

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