Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Shlanger - March 4, 1983

Evacuation of Jaworzno

Under what circumstances did you evacuate Jaworzno? What, what happened that brought about that?

Around the middle of January in 1945, the armies of the Soviet Union were getting very close to our camp. In fact um, the camp was near a main road and we saw the retreating German armies. One day, we came back from work, back to the camp, and immediately were chased on the highway on a death march. They were marching us inside Germany. Because Jaworzno was in Upper Silesia at one time, it was part of Poland. Today, it's part of Poland.

What do you remember about the march?

Well, those that didn't have enough strength to march they were shot in the back of their neck. And we had to throw the dead bodies on wagons and we had to push the wagons. When we filled up the wagons we had to bury the dead, start filling up the wagons again. The dripping blood from the wagons made never-ending red lines in the white snow.

Any particular moments that stand out on that march?

Yes. Well, I recall some... someone I knew quite well, who was on that wagon, still alive, biting another prisoner's foot. Can never forget that, as I was pushing the wagons I saw that. I get very emotional when I recall those wagons, that was horrible.

When you saw this happening, did you say anything, did you do anything?

I couldn't do anything, I couldn't say anything, I was just pushing the wagon.

Did you also have to bury these prisoners?

Occasionally, we stopped. When the wagons were filled up, we had to bury the dead and then march again.

Were there any that you buried that you think may have still been alive?

Yes, not completely dead, yes.

Do you remember this regularly, these images?

Yes I do, especially in my dreams, comes back to me.

What would have happened if uh, if you had tried to help one of those prisoners, do you think?

I would have wound up with them on the wagon. Couldn't do anything. All you had to do is march. In fact, you were afraid to remain behind because those that remained behind, they were shot in the back of their neck. So, you tried to be in the front.

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