Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Aaron Salzburg - July 24, 1984


By train?


Were you leaving by train?

By train, yeah. And uh, we tried--everybody tried to get to the kitchen as soon as possible to get a bread, but it was impossible, they did it in such, such a way that it wasn't an intention to give us anything--any food, more than likely. By the end of the day, it'd gotten late. Nothing started yet to send away the people, but it'd gotten late, they called up Jews and Russians to report right away to the trains, and the trains were lined up, and this is--we were the first ones to be taken out of the camp. I don't know what happened the following day. More likely there were still left some prisoners. There must have been 100,000 people there. I don't know how many thousands. There were still left some people there. When we got on the trains and we start to ride these trains back and forth, I don't know where we, where we were going. At night they would shoot into the trains, in the trains and, uh...

Who would shoot into the trains? The SS?

The, the, the SS would shoot into the trains, inside every train--in every, in every one, there was an SS sitting by the door. And they still would shoot. There was a guy--an SS man was hit. He hit--he was shot through the clothes, it was a Hungarian boy sitting close to him. The Hungarian boy was killed. And nothing happened to that, to that SS man--to the guard. And uh, they wouldn't let us out from, from the, from the wagon. They, they pumped in about 100 people in a small little wagon and, uh...

A cattle car? A cattle car on the train?

A cattle train and they wouldn't let us out to the toilet. No water. No food. Oh, we were cruising like that for about seven days. At daytime we could see Hamburg. Uh, the look of Hamburg, that, that was the first picture we had of Germany--how Germany eh, was in reality. And uh, finally uh, we lined up in Bergen-Belsen. In Bergen-Belsen we had no assignment to work, very little food. Uh, when we came in, the SS was still there. They had Hungarian guards with white bands. We didn't understand the meaning of it. We found out later apparently that camp was already surrendered in certain areas by the English. And uh, and uh, starvation was, was, was terrible, just nothing to eat. People were eating some kind of a greenery--some grass--I don't know what it was--I didn't try it. But they were eating grass. I don't know what they ate. And one time, I've seen notice that people were running. I got out, and uh, everybody was running in one direction and uh, they discovered some kind of uh, of uh, uh, ??? with uh, sweet or sugar beets or something like it. And I uh, I run that direction and I, I seen a friend of mine, a kind fella. He was loaded with these uh, sugar beets. I tried to jump on him as, as weak as I was, but he said, "You're dumb! Look it, you got all these just, just, just a few feet away." It's true. I run over there and start to load some of those, and here they were shooting ???. People were falling in all directions, and I finally got a few pieces of it. And I got in my, my block, and I gave everybody a piece, and uh, everybody was happy to a piece of sugar beet and all that thing, but uh, the, the picture was very sad and uh, April the 15th. It was on a Sunday. We had seen the first spearheads coming in, in the camp. English uh, soldiers marched through the camp. That was my experience uh, in uh, Germany concentration camps. The following day uh, we listened to a speech of a German--of uh, English general came in. He introduced himself as an English general and uh, declared us as free people. "You are no more prisoners and you are free people." However, he asked us to be calm, not to leave the camp. We didn't receive any food for about a week or so--or maybe two weeks, no help came nowhere. As a matter of fact, one Hungarian kid tried to jump in the kitchen to get some food out. He and his brother were shot--two young kids. By the, by the guards.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn