Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Nathan Roth - February 4, 1983


When the Russians came, when the Russians came and uh, did you think of going back home, did you go back to...

The Russians came and I remember them very well. Also had tanks, they told us which way to go. And we went now across that clearing that we didn't want to cross coming into that house. We went across that clearing and there was a highway someplace over there and there were some dead Germans and I remember stepping on one dead one and pulling his boots off 'cause he was frozen. Putting his boots on because I had, by that time, no shoes practically. And we walked and walked and they told us where to go, they told us a word to say, I forgot the word already. It was right in the front. It was no-mans land, where I am right now. We came to the front line where they were and we said the word and they let us through. I forgot what the word was. He told me, I was the guy he told it to. I forgot it, never even thought about it. And we went through that line and, my God, we went for maybe another mile and as far as we could see, there were artillery lined up for maybe a mile in each direction. Not until later did I find out that it was the final assault on Berlin. Final assault with two or three thousand artillery pieces were lined up Katyushas and all that. And then we got a boumashka, a little piece of paper that were in the after safe conduct and we hitch-hiked right to, to Warsaw and actually through Prague, which is a part of Warsaw. I remember that it was totally rubble. Totally destroyed. I remember that going over the Vistula. All on Russian trucks, going back with supplies. And then down into Slovakia. And I actually passed my brother's store with his name still half obliterated. You could read it. Shattered store. It was then that it hit me that, "what am I going back to?" Because here I am and my brother's was Metzula Bortza, was the name of the place, so I was there a couple of times as a youngster. And I remember the store, where it was, the big windows it was general merchandise store he had. And it was all shattered, the glass shattered. And it was at that time that it hit me, that "what am I coming home to"? You know what it hit me when I got off of the plane in Israel last uh, on December 27, when I realized that for the first time I remember a few times before, for the first time my brother won't be there to greet me. And just as I was coming out of the, after the customs clearing, I got that tightening up, you know, I started crying. The same thing happened to me there. And he was alive. I came home, came to Ungvar, I remember I, I went back to Bereznyy once, to Veliky Bereznyy. But came home to Ungvar.

When did you find out that most of your family had perished?

It was gradual. You didn't know who was and who wasn't coming at that time and I came back. I was one of the first. Because of my escape. A lot of them who went with that other transport wound up in, in Dachau. And, uh, those who did survive. Who didn't go through much, the whole when I did. But it came gradually. I don't know exactly. Ah, I found out that my brother was alive, this one. Gradually, I found out that this sister's husband died in the waning days of World War II. He somehow made his way to the partisans. Nobody knows how, but it is on record that he died in a Czech uniform. How he got that, I, I haven't been able to ascertain. Uh, I found out that my sister was one of the few from Bergen-Belsen that were taken with the Swedish Red Cross into Sweden. And she now is in Dallas. And of course, after a couple of three months, it was evident that nobody else was alive.

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