Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Muschkies Webber - February 2, 1987

Transport to Auschwitz


Well, they--we were in uh, Ostrowiec camp and they liquidated Ostrowiec, and we were supposed to I guess, go to another working camp, but we were sent to Auschwitz instead. We were put on cattle cars with a pail of water, and I think we were given some bread too at the time, and the doors were closed and we were off. We didn't know that we were going to Auschwitz, as I said, until I guess it must have been a couple of days. They lifted the children up to the window to look out and we would try to give landmarks, or tell the people around us because we were very crowded, we couldn't move. So they would get the children up to the window and the children would tell the people what they saw and this way when we arrived in Auschwitz in early morning, it was kind of dawn, it was very foggy. In fact I think every morning in Auschwitz was foggy, we saw those beautiful gates, and I didn't know what it was. To me it didn't mean anything. It was a name. But uh, I was scared because everybody around me was scared. People started crying, and uh, they were scared so I was petrified. We...I was with my mother, I was huddled to her, we were towards like a corner so I, we had some breathing room. But when we first got in I remember standing there and I couldn't breathe because everybody was standing and I was standing too, but I was so short that, and we were so close together until we all sat down. I guess that's why maybe my mother kept pushing me over to the side, so I would have a wall rather than another person standing next to me. So, it was like being on a really, it wasn't any different when we were transported from one place to another on a truck. It was the same way. But here it was over a longer period of time.

Did you have any sanitary facilities?

No. No. I think that we used the pail after the water was used up. But I'm not sure about it. It was not unusual I guess uh, with the little food that we really had and water that you didn't need any. I don't remember or else...I don't remember. It was something just that wasn't necessary.

Do you remember the sounds and the smells?

I was by then so used to the smell of human bodies of closeness uh, that uh, it didn't make an impression on me. It was just, when the doors were finally opened and uh, that sound of "heraus, heraus" again and the fear in the peoples eyes and we looked up and we saw in the camps people dressed in the ???, in the uniforms of Auschwitz. It was like being in a different world. It was foggy and uh, it was very orderly. Whatever anybody still had, little bundle, they were asked to leave. You will get it later. And uh, again, our transport was left on the platform for a day, and I think a night. They didn't really know what to do with us. There was rumors, I don't know if it was true or not, but for what I remember at the time, that Mengele was sick and he couldn't make his selections. Later on I heard people say that it's because we had a certain letter that we came from a working camp so all the people on the transport were uh, of working ability so there were no selections needed to be done. How much truth there is to it, I really don't know. That's what I heard at the time.

Were there other children on the train?

Yes. Yes. There was a few children. Man and woman were separated right away. And my father wasn't with me all this time so it didn't really matter to me at all. I just remember there was a question of a few boys. Should they go with the fathers or should they go with the mothers. And in our case, the ones that went with the mothers are with us still. The ones that went with the fathers did not survive. he next day we were given, there was no food or drink or anything offered, I mean we just didn't know what was happening to us. I guess that they, there was talk of they were pointing to the ovens, the crematoriums, the smoke and all that. I didn't...

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