Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Schleifer - August 1, 1982

Overview of Experience

Okay, and uh, then what happened?

After a month, the--everybody was put on wagons like uh, uh, cattle wagons here and transported to Auschwitz.

And this was by train?

That's correct.

Uh, could you describe your conditions on this trip?

On the train was very bad because the, that train was loaded. I, I couldn't tell you exactly [pause] how many people you had on one of them wagons, but you couldn't hardly breathe. Once in a while, you get a water. Sometimes you didn't get nothing, no food, until we get to Auschwitz. When you got to Auschwitz, you stayed in Birkenau. Well, at first when we got off the train, actually, then my mother and my brother went together and I went with my father. Then my mother, being a little heavier, she directly went to the gas chamber and me and my father we went to Birkenau. In other words, we had--at Auschwitz they had one camp with name of Birkenau where some of these uh, uh, Hüftlings, so-called--where they call prisoners we used to stay there a month and then they were shipped out in another camp. I mean, that's where we stayed a month, Plonking team. From there, we were shipped to France, Longre, France. And when it was known to Longre, France--by that time we had some Germans which was with us in the camp, Gentiles. And he was in the camp because he was a Communist and he was in, in the camp since 1933. Uh, he picked all the young kids of the age of mine and tried to get us because he was a cook and we were in the kitchen. It was about eight or ten of us--ten young kids, I'm talking. He was working in the kitchen with him-til just about the Allies was close to the, close to the camp and then they get orders that all the Germans who were in concen... were in concentration camp, they had to go to service. In other words, they was taking them out from the camp and put them in uniform and put them on a front line where he was going to fight the enemy--not the SS behind him was going to kill them so he left. And, three days before the Allies came in to Longre--that was on the uh, border of Luxembourg--before the Allies came in, they put us again on cattle wagons and they transported us to Kochendorf. Kochendorf was a, uh, camp where you had--the uh, the prisoners used to work in the airplane factory underneath the ground. It was, was some, some kind of a salt mine, if I'm not mistaken. Again, when I got there I was in the kitchen about for three, four days and after that, I was put out. And then I was working in a factory and, again, we stayed there, again, close when the ally was coming in. Then I was with my father. Actually, I was with my father all that time and in Longre, France, and Kochendorf actually, but my father uh, during the winter he had a couple weeks that uh, uh, the toes on the foot froze and he got in a hospital where they cut those toes off. And then, the Allies that was coming close again so the hospital was evacuated with the uh, train. And all the rest of us we was marching from Kochendorf to Dachau. We used to march at night and try to sleep during the day and anybody who fall out from the, from the uh, formation they were shot. If they wasn't shot, they used to have a wagon behind which when some of the prisoners used to pull. I always knew of some live ones which when fall out just throw them on the wagon and they was pulling them until next stop--rest stop. A rest stop we got to it. They dug a grave and threw everybody in it until we got to Dachau. So, when I got to Dachau I was in one of the barracks and I found out my father was in the next barracks. So, I found out that he got the typhoid fever. What they say, the stomach has typhoid fever?

Ah, um...

How you call it?


Typhoid to his stomach so he had the constant runs. So, what I used to do I used to give him the bread and he used to give me his soup. The daily soup I ate and I gave him the bread in order to him get better. In the meantime, he passed away and we were still in Dachau, but the uh, fellows who was with him, they knew me, they never want to tell me that my father was dead. And, again, the Allies was closin' to--soon again. Now this time put us on the trains and took us for a ride. So, went on the trains and then they threw us some Red Cross packages. In other words, the Germans tried to soften the whole thing up to show that they, they wasn't that mean and it wasn't that bad against us. And uh, just before the war ended uh, our uh, guy was in charge of all the whole train he heard the--on the radio that the war was over so he got us off the train. And we was marching. We got to one of the lakes--we were close to Garmisch-Partenkirchen--and everybody got off the train and everybody got by the lake. That was uh, early April and then at night all the guards--SS guards disappeared. So, morning we got up was nobody around so everybody started walking. So we walked to the town. We got to the town. I don't even know what was the name of that town, but, as I said, it was around Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We got to town. There was nobody there so we started looting. What I mean by looting we tried to get some food and we got in some--found some warehouses where the Germans used to have some uh, cans--canned goods and quite a few guys got hold of some of the things--some of the cans which was really uh, too greasy and they got sick on them because they didn't have nothing on the stomach. They ate, ate it just like lard. And I seen a family, for instance, I knew a father with three, three sons. All, all father and all three sons after that they passed away. So, next, next day the uh, townspeople want us to get out of town and meet the Allies because the Allies was coming in and they wanted to shell the town or, or shoot the town down so they'd send ahead to meet the Allies and get the Allies down. So, we went ahead and next morning we seen the Allies on, on the way between the little town and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We got to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and over there they put us to the camps. Uh, and, in this particular camp, again, then there when I got sick. I got--become--I got--had the typhoid. And, from there, I came home.

So, looks like you moved around a lot during the war.


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