Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Josef Slaim - February 7, 1982

Death March

We went mit the march, 2,400 people in mien group. In evening was missing 400 already was killed on the road. The next day was 600 already shot, was killed. Somebody just uh, wasn't straight in the line they shot him or uh, um, afterwards uh, a little rest. Not because we was tired, just they were tired. They asked to rest a little bit, to stand up. So everybody could go in the side and urinate. Somebody walked out, they start shooting. So, it just happened to this time every night we supposed to sleep in another uh, where we were was close to a village. We stopped in a village and we slept in the village. Uh, we hadn't got the whole day any food, but uh, the farmer supposed to get some...something food for us. So he cooked uh, potato for us. Two potatoes, you know, and he handed out--not the whole group was in one place. There was uh, in groups. So many people by this farm and so many people--but no farmer would have for 2,000 people uh, a place, you know. And just happened on our place where we was laying was two guards. In the night time--the opening to the barns was just from the inside, from the backyard, and they watched by the door. I was on the second floor of the barns, and I said to my brother, "I think that's the night I'm gonna run away." I break a little piece of wood. I said, "Here I'm gonna jump down. I see a forest over there. I'm gonna run to the forest." My brother don't want to. ??? He don't let me, and he kept me back. I said it was in the middle of the night it was a moon...moon light night. I said, "I don't care if they gonna catch me or not, if they shoot me. What the hell? What's the difference?" What's happened, he don't let me, but after a while I said, "You won't let go? If not, it's gonna be the last time you gonna see us"' So he let me go. I jumped down, but after a minute he jumped too. And after him was around twenty people, running behind me, I mean. We run--I, I turn around my head, I see lots of people, but where to go, who knows? We saw a forest. We run to--but in the mean time gotten--get the noise a little bit. So the, the dogs--the farmer's dogs start bar...barking. So the SS start looking what's happened. So they find out what's happened: its people running away. So they couldn't run both of us uh, both of them couldn't run behind us--just one, because the other one had to watch the other people there on the place. So this guy, his name was Hans Miller. Funny thing I know how this Germans--this SS, uh this guards name. Because I, I wore his uniform--that's the guy. And he run behind us. And we was coming in a forest, so we wasn't together one, one place. I was finally--I couldn't make it more. It was--I got in the forest, but you know the--how you call this? The trees--the little trees, what they using for Christmas...

A bush.

The bushes you know. So I hide behind this bush and I said, "That's all. If you shoot me, shoot me." So--but it was dark. He passed by me. As soon he passed by, I get in there, and I jumped on his back. So he took his gun, and he want to shoot me, you know. I kept his hand and I bite him in his neck. And then I catch his ear, and I start biting. He start screaming. In the mean time I grabbed his revolver and I shoot him. I didn't, I didn't know what I am doing. I just did it. Mit not any, any uh, thinking about. It was not uh, a time to think about. You just did it. And I uh, don't know who to run to with him. I took off his old clothes, and I took my clothes. I covered him up. And I dressed me up in his uniform. Now I start uh, after a while I start thinking. I look on me--myself. I didn't know what, what I am. What I'm doing in, in this uniform? What I should do now? Where I to go? What, what, what, what's gonnna happen mit me? First thing was coming on my mind, "Lets walk around in the forest, maybe I'm gonna catch somebody from the people that run away or I might gonna catch uh, my brother?" Another way I felt if they're gonna see somebody in a uniform, they're gonna run away. They're gonna hide from me. And that's what happened mit my brother. He run away. I star...I recognized him and I start screaming at him, he wanted to jump to the border. I was talking to him Jewish and he still didn't believe me. And I grabbed him by the hand because he wanted to jump. I said to him, "Schlomo..." my brother's name was Schlomo, "that's me." He looked at me and he was afraid. After all, I, I, I haven't known before uh, I was mit him. But, over there was starting uh, too much to say 'til the end, where I uh, how it happened that I took away uh, another group. And I come to the underground, you know. I think we would have enough for today.

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