Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Regina Cohen - April 18, 1982

Being Sorted

And a young man working on the railroad station in a striped uniform walked by us and he said, in German, "Say you're eighteen." Right, staring right at me. And I looked and my mother looked and uh, I caught a sort of a, a, a feeling what's happening there. Just, because they already separated the men. We've already come three days--the cruelty on the train was bad enough, because a couple of people died in the train. And a woman had a baby in the train. And I think the baby died. And as young as children, you know, as young as you are, you, you--the message you get is as if, "Hey things aren't really good." And uh, and that young man realized I'm--I looked at him but I had this panic, but I tried to not notice. And as we're nearing uh, the line and there is uh, the Gestapo, and I was told the--afterwards there was Dr. Mengele sorting us. He walked by very, very fast again, next to my mother, and he says "You heard me," in plain Yiddish, "You heard me. You are eighteen." At that point, we have--we're about, oh, let's see, about ten feet away from where, where the Gestapo, where the doctor is sorting, or dividing the people, sending to the left or to the right. Uh, my mother grabs my sister's little girl from my arms and the thought hit me, "I'm fourteen, I can't look eighteen, I, I'm just fourteen, I'm a little girl, I'm not even developed. How can I be eighteen?" I don't know when I got to the line whether I was asked whether I'm eighteen or did I ever say anything? I remember picking myself up from the dirt because I was shoved by my mother. Whether I passed out, but I remember her last words: "Go, maybe you will live." So I assume they knew as we were nearing uh, that, that end--that she knew. And I still--it didn't hit me why did that young man say, "Say you're eighteen." But, but as time went on, you learn very quickly. I remember being pushed with a, with a gun--with a something um, by a uniform, SS. And uh, "Come on. Schmell, schmell, schmell. Let's go, let's go." Herded.

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