Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Josef Slaim - February 7, 1982


Alright let's talk about your liberation? How--where were you liberated? From where? When and where were you liberated?

Well, over there, by this lady.

Okay, so you were in hiding--you and your brother then were with this lady.



Now, what happened--how this soldier get to me. This lady told us that she heard that uh, headquarters in the next village, Weisel is already in uh, op...uh, working. So she said, "You know what? I'm gonna go mit you, and mit your brother, I take you over to the place where the Americans got their uh, quarters." And when we came there the guard over there saw us: a prisoner and me, a soldier, and one lady coming in there. Uh, ??? the lady went--start talking to them in German, but he couldn't understand, but he looked on me, and he didn't know. He saw a German corporal. He went and he called out a couple people and so lots of people was coming out to see us. So everybody start talking to me, which I couldn't understand, I couldn't understand--I, I didn't know any word English.

They were all speaking English to you?

Yes. Then they brought somebody speak--talk to me in uh, French. Same story, I couldn't answer. Well all of a sudden they found uh, one guy. And he was coming out, he said, "Are you Jewish?" I didn't answer because I didn't know that Jewish is Yiddish.


That's the funny story. I didn't know even this word English, you know. Then he said, "???" you know. I said, "???" So then he asked--first thing, when he was coming out--the first guard--he took away right away the , the belt and the gun, he took it into the uh, office, and he let me stay. Then uh, they brought out a chair and asked my brother to sit, because he was uh, a prisoner--a Jew. I was going on still as a German.

I see.

So uh, they asked me to stay, you know. But after this, after a couple uh, after a while they start talking mit me. And this is--this article what he had in the paper, about me. That was the liberation. Of course the war was still not over. The war was over I guess in the 8th of May or whatever it is and uh, word for word was translated, but, uh...

Well what did you do after you were liberated?

Well, after I was liberated uh, uh, they, they took us over there to uh, they called the mayor from this city--from this village. And uh, they asked the mayor to uh, to take us, take us uh, to a hospital and uh, he took us to a small little uh, place. Over there was a doctor. The doctor was an SS man, but he was a captured SS man already, from the Americans, but he was a doctor. He hadn't got any gun or whatever it is, you know, but he worked in this little hospital as a doctor. And he told the mayor this uh, the way he looked, looked us up, he said, "These people hasn't got any chance than a day or two more to live. I would"--he recommended the mayor to take us to a church where the nuns are there to this litt...to the nuns, and they probably could take better care, because they--I don't--we don't need any medicine to this time, we need just uh, taken care on us, you know, to watch us. So we was there for a week in this uh, church. And the funny things about the ??? there in the church, the first day the nuns was coming and then they give us--they took us in the church. They give us a book and asked us to pray. I looked on my brother, my brother looked on me and we pray in the church? So I don't know to pray on the church so we didn't. We just kept the book. She asked us why we don't pray. Then I answered, "Well we don't understand uh, Germany." So then she said she gonna say and we should say after her, you know. So whatever she said, we said. To this time I was even afraid to mention it that I'm Jewish. They didn't know that I'm Jewish. They believed that we are Polish. Why we was afraid? Because we were so scary and so done, we, we didn't believe that there's, there's still a Jew around. We thought that they had all gotten killed. So if they gonna have this one Jew still alive so, they're gonna do the same thing. You was even afraid to tell them that we are Jewish. I mean that was the uh, the first days. After a week we were staying there in the uh, church. Of course, we got better and better. So we went to the city hall and the mayor give us uh, in a hotel uh, as a matter of fact, before this he gave--yeah, he brought us in uh, in uh, hotel. In this hotel there was already free. The, the war was over. It was already uh, eight days. In the hot...in this hotel was a restaurant and there was French prisoners there. They was singing, they was happy, you know, life after the war. And when we open the door, me and my brother walked in. They start getting quiet. All of a sudden everybody start looking at us, they couldn't recognize that we are concentration camp people. And they start talking to us the same question, we couldn't answer it, but they give--they loaded us up mit a full stock mit food, you know. [laughs] And we start eat. Of course we was still hungry, we was start eating and we got sick.

Too much food too fast?

Well to this time, you thought--you was afraid maybe tomorrow you wouldn't have.

All right.

Well that's the story and this time what I described you just in uh, make it sh...make it short, you know.

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