Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Transfer to Theresienstadt

So how long were you in Theresienstadt?

In Theresienstadt I was over there about four weeks.

This is famous because this is where....

For the butterfly. They, they, the Theresienstadt was the Mischling. Over there was a lot of Jews were their four generation was converted. So was Yugoslavians, Serbian, Germans, Hungarians, and Czechs. They, they walked around. They looked like a city. We were in a camp. And over there was Kaserne. Kaserne is big building--historic buildings with the, the army from the World War I or--so it was Hindenburg Kaserne, Magdeburg Kaserne. So they took the people what we killed with the boxcars. We couldn't uh, walk over, we're--they didn't give us no food, no nothing. We were traveling for, maybe for eight day. And uh, miracle we made it because in every station what we stopped they want to deliver to us the bread, they want to deliver the food. Only they bombed the, the, the railroad station so they had to run away with us. The people would have walked--a lot of marched in--a lot of was--that was the last month of the end of the war was, was more people uh, killed then, then in, in during the time. People marched and the boxcar people die. I never forget when we're sitting, we--on the railroads and we look out from the, from the little uh, spar...little tracks--the box car and we saw the other railroad. We were hungry but people over there--we saw rutabagas and we told the guard, "How about if you let us out and grab a few rutabagas?" We didn't eat for so many days. So he said, "All right." And we took a blanket and who could walk--not everybody could walk--I was laying, sitting. When you sit in, in the boxcar for so many days, you can't even straight, straight your feet out--you couldn't get up. And they went down and they picked up dozens of rutabagas and they brought it in to the boxcar. So the guard was a nice fellow, he said, "Don't eat it with the peels, peel it off." We didn't have even knives to peel it. So we peeled off and we ate a piece of rutabaga--everybody get a pie...got a piece of rutabaga. Then we ate the peels because we had, we had to--was we didn't know for how many days. So now if I see the rutabaga it reminds me the story what, what I went through. This rutabaga saved my life, going--when we came to Theresienstadt. We were--we had lice, we were dirty, filthy. And they had--and in, in the first boxcars what they came--the first people what they came, they filled up those kaserm...those uh, big army unit--and the people the typhus got. You know that? And the dysentery and people start vomiting and sick, you know they--I was lucky, I just came with the second group looks like.

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