Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Esther Praw - May 22, 1983


Do you recall the circumstances at the time of liberation?


Can you tell me about that?

This I will never forget. A day before--did you uh, the interviews that you have, you probably had people from Bergen-Belsen? A day before the Germans run away, and we saw a white flag by somebody in, in this town. It was--the town was Celle, or I don't remember the name, from the town by Bergen-Belsen. From far away we saw something white. I said it looked like a white flag. We're young girls, like I told you, I never was interested in working. I was young, I was glad that I can make a dollar and help my parents with a few pennies, and even when I start to work in factory, I have to tell you, in Poland, I had a friend that I helped her too, they were poor too. I always like to help. And I think, by helping people, God helps you. So we saw like something white. And I said, it might be, because somebody from--other people told us that the white flag, white things, mean that that they surrender. So they said, no, somebody hang some clothes outside. So all right, but, the night before, we didn't see any Germans, you know, and we didn't know what's going on. We hear the bombs, we saw parachutes, you know. A lot. The next day, no Germans. We didn't know what to do. We're sitting just because there's nowhere to go, where we can go, we're afraid! Bombs and everything. And I don't remember if it took four hours or eight hours, they all came back, but they all were wearing white pants. With, with the white pants, they still beat up people. And a day later, the first English tank came into the camp. And they start to say "???" you know. You are free, nothing's going to hurt you. They said we are not prepared to have enough food to give you. But if they didn't give food it would be better, because a lot of people as you hear are already died. I couldn't eat anyway. I, I couldn't you know, I, I couldn't eat because like I mentioned to you, two weeks--I don't know how many weeks I got sick, I couldn't eat--the garlic, I think the garlic what make me--but I still felt all the time not to eat anymore. Or my stomach got away from the food, or, I don't know. And uh, after we got liberated I didn't--they, they brought some food in, but I didn't go in like people you know, and ate whatever they could, no. But uh, this is never going to be forgotten, because this was something that um, unbelievable is not the word for it to describe. Like you are on the electric chair, and the, the government says no, you cannot be alive anymore. And all of a sudden you are strapped to it and they come, they unstrap you and they tell you they changed their mind, you are free, something happened, you are free. You know, the same thing was there. Me, I never believed we would go out. But before the German--the English solider came in, I have one big satisfaction what I have to tell you. I was standing outside in an Appell and a German solider was drunk, because they knew already what's going on, that they are... and he said to us, "Pretty soon," he said, "You are going to be free, and you are going to point on us what we did. And you are going to wear hats, and you are going to be dressed up," that's what he said. And this was my--I didn't believe that we are going to live through, because they said to us, not to me, but people told me that the Germans said that all the camps they had uh, there are mines, explosive, and before they are going to, to go out, to lose, they are going to kill us. So I, I believe in it, you know. Because it was very easy to believe in everything after Auschwitz. It wasn't anything too hard to believe, you know. So, but um, I see, that a person, when a person get used to ideas about death, you just, you get used to it, and you don't care anymore. In fact, many times I told you, why not now? I suffer and suffer and suffer. Like uh, it's no use. But I never had in my mind that I'm going to live through and have a family, and uh, still can tell you or my kids or anybody. Never. The girl that I mentioned to you--you have to tape what I'm saying, you don't put everything on? Or you follow every word that I say?

I'm following...

[speaking at same time] Yeah, because I'm not going to mention that. Or I don't, can't mention names. I wouldn't mention names.

That would be fine.

She's here. And um, I was a little bit hurt because I helped her the most, I helped her. The one that she give me, shared with me the piece of bread. She's not going to listen to my tape anyway. And um, all the years, what we're here, she never mentioned to me that you really helped me, by cleaning away all the stuff and bringing a little bit. And I thought, in a time like that, when somebody can help you, if you'd remember, but...I'm going to finish after the tape is gone???

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