Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Adele Sandel - [n.d.]

Hearing About Auschwitz

So, now listen carefully because it is very complicated. Uh, those boys left already. Now we are about in September.

But when you...

The girls went like in March and the boys, the young men, them like, like maybe August or September.

So, when you left--when the Jewish people in your town let the boys go...


...they--by that time they knew that something was strange because they haven't heard from the daughters yet.

Nothing, nothing. We knew it was very fishy, that they, they, they were there and we didn't hear nothing so, we were guessing. Once that--who knows they schlepped them very far and there is no post office. We didn't like it. Nobody liked it, but you were so helpless like a baby. What would you do? So, the boys went and, again, went away about a month or two. Then, one night around two o'clock we were all sleeping, of course, and there was a knock on the main door--in our, in our, our window, in our house. Why in our house, I don't know. We lived near to a bridge and near to the, the station. I don't know why. And we, we looked out of the window, I don't remember what it was winter or spring, I have no idea, and this man said, "Let me in. I ran away. I ran away. There is a town by the name of Auschwitz." That was the first, first time I heard in my life Auschwitz. I will always remember he wore a, like a parka and high boots, and he had like um, he looked like a German soldier. He was so blond and red cheeks so we were scared to death that who knows, you know, a spy or something. We didn't let him in and he started to say in Jewish and he started to say Hebrew words and he started to swear that it's the truth; we should just let him in and he will tell us what is going on. He ran away because, like I told you, you know like um, it was so near from Poland to, to our town, like I told you like Windsor to Detroit--downtown Detroit--not here, not right--not...

Like a border town now.

Right. So, he came in finally and uh, we gave him something to eat and he told us the whole story which we didn't uh, believe, of course. He said that, "All your beautiful girls and all your beautiful boys are in Auschwitz." And we said, "What is Auschwitz?" and he said, "This is a terrible town. There are buildings uh, the ovens there and they are working in the factories, but they have plans to take away the families now. And, you do something about it because they have plans to burn. The young people are working, but if old people come and children come, they are building ovens to burn them." It was so unbelievable, like, we wanted to kill him. We wanted to chase him out what he was talking about. You know, like, it was like no--it is already you know that it happened, but then it was just such a, like a utopia, you know, he was talking like we talked really that the man lost his mind and we, we, we told him to get out of here because this is unreal what he is talking and we hid him because he was not supposed to be seen by anybody. He was also in his early thirties and he ran away. Next day, my father called all these smart people from the city they should listen what the man has to say. So, they let a few...

Smart Jewish men of the city?

Yes, of course. So, there was a few people who believed him. There were a few people who really wanted to kill the man. He said the whole truth, like, it start to happen with the ovens they were putting up all this. They are waiting for I don't know how many millions of Jews and they have plans to, to kill and to burn and to gas so many hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Jews every day.

How did he escape and how...

He escaped.

How did he know? He was in Auschwitz?

He was there in Auschwitz.


He escaped in a um, they also uh, uh, and my father was working like with coal, you know? Wood and coal with Poland, so he buried himself someplace in a coal um, in a coal um, wagon, you know, like they bring the coal in? How do you call those big uh, big uh, things? I don't know, wagons. I don't know.


With the railroad. And he buried himself there and, and, and somehow at night he escaped. It is unbelievable, no, but those days if you wanted to stay alive you just did anything--unbelievable things. People jumped out of trains and they would run after trains and they--whatever, whoever tell you something believe because it happened.

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