AS A MIRACLE THOUGH SEVEN HELLS
Our transport moved toward the road and pushed 6 or 7 people in a sled,. Afterwards I paid a look to the very well known streets and houses, where I went for a walk so many times, and now here everything disappears. We passed in front of my school (where the old Seminar was) at the end of Dombrowsky St., where I studied so many years. I remember that when leaving the school in a cold winter day, we used to requested to peasants that accidentally passed with their carts, that they bring us some steps near our home. Who of those unworried children could imagine that same peasants with their carts and sleds, would drive us to our final road?.
But is not possible to think too much of our recent past, . Now this it is our reality with all it's terror.
We arrived to Lineve's train station. Here a load train was already parked, we were pushed, and were tight as herrings in a barrel, more than 100 people in a boxcar. Doors were closed tightly and the train moved.
Happy is the people that didn't experience such a tragic trip as this one. It was difficult to tolerate, and death didn't arrive so easy. Outwards was tremendous cold, and of our faces fell drops of perspiration for the heat that dominated inside boxcar. Of the dirty and blackened walls, vapor dripped. Mothers wet their fingers in that humidity and they brought them to the mouths of their thirsty children. The thirst was felt every time more. People took turns to come close to the two small windows fenced with bars, to aspire some air.
Once, when we stopped in the road, I tried to request to the German that watched over our boxcar to give us some ice of the floor, and I don't know why happened. Was the murderer maybe pity of us? In a few minutes, we received through the window a piece of ice. I will never forget as we all rushed at the same time to receive a piece. In that moment, for sure, all forgot toward where we were taken and what was waiting us. The desire of each one was only a little bit of water.
When we refreshed a little, we began to wonder: where to they take us? In what address the train travels? When we passed by Treblinka, the hope born again. We traveled in address to Krakow.
Certainly. After two days and it's nights, the train stopped. Suddenly, opened up the heavy doors thoroughly, and we descended. Weakened, like after a severe illness, we could hardly stay on our feet. Now we observed that some deceased were hurtled of the boxcars, small children's bodies and old men. My grandfather that died in the road, was among them.
On platform were staying satisfied Germans, ready to begin their "work". Was listened an order: "men and women separated!". Later they separated most young men and women . We cried, we said goodbye. The Nazi sticks hit right and left. Me and my sister should form the line of the young girls. We were hardly able to kiss my mother and my small brother. I no longer saw my father and my brother. They were among men.
It doesn't exist force that can erase of my memory my mother's aspect in the moment to said goodbye. A terrible expression of sadness and pain covered her pale face. We should be stronger that the iron, so that the heart doesn't explode. But we were strong. The Nazis "encouraged" us with the sound of their orders. We went to the concentration camp.
Near train station to which we arrived, was Birkenau camp, that was a section of Auschwitz. To the entrance on the hall door, there was an inscription "ARBAIT MACHT FREI" (work is liberator). Along a double line of electrified wires that surrounded the camp separated by 50 meters approximately, was a surveillance tower with an armed soldier. We walked in straight line. The surface was divided in two parts. On one hand was seen a line of blocks of materials , and of the other side were wooden houses with better aspect. There lived detained Germans. In the road we met young Pruzhany women of first two transports. The following day arrived the rest of few Ghetto Jews, that waited until the end. It was a very small quantity.
We found out that TZIVIE RYBNIK requested to murderers that they allow her to go with the youths, but regrettably Nazis never satisfied a request. Neither even when the request was the opposite, to stay close to most dear relatives to die together. They made us enter the bathrooms. Here we undressed all we possessed. Then they cut us whole hair, they gave us a cold shower, and tattooed us the number on left arm. After registration was done, we received clothes: a pair of wooden shoes, old soldiers pants, a blouse, a light coat and a handkerchief for the head. With this aspect we hardly recognized ourselves one to another.
After a whole day and half night of staying, hungry and thirsty, we finished the procedure. Outwards was very cold. We were almost naked. We felt cold in the head, which was without hair. The block to which they took us, did not have an aspect better than a stable. Walls were black, without floor neither a ceiling. For the holes of the roof, fell snow. The windows were almost without glass. Near the walls and in the middle of the place, were rough old beds of three levels, simply of wood, and of square format. Some twelve to thirteen women occupied a bed, we were one above the other. Noise was atrocious. The nerves were tensed. Some women almost got mad. One of them was DOBKE YALOWKSY: the guardian of the block retired her of the group.
Portions of food were scarce, but to us, as it was the beginning was too much, because most got sick of dysentery and they only drank. In the morning we received some coffee, of lunch some soup, at night 200 grams of bread with a piece of margarine or a spoonful of marmalade and another coffee.
Working as slaves
After a week, we were designated block workers. Of Pruzhany we were me and my sister, three sisters FROIMTSHIK, two sisters GUREVITZ, PEHSKE BEIZER, FEIGL AVERBUCH (of Dobuchin), FEIGUELE LIEVITZKY, LEAH YABLONSKY and others.
When passing new "housing" threshold, we were amazed of what we saw. Detainees since much time ago, were very busy in lice self cleaning. When observing our astonished faces, they tranquilized us, and told us that we would not be an exception. Some no much time later, this task was our routine. Every free minute we used to inspect our clothes and to evict "undesirable guests" that fed of our lost weight bodies.
The camp day began at 5 a.m. Who didn't rise immediately after maid's scream; "get up, take coffee, prepared to pass list", was helped with some blows. Many of our youths perished for the murderous Czech Jews that were old residents of the concentration camp, and had higher positions in the blocks. They were representatives, scribes, maids, and were in charge of night surveillance.
We were staying usually two hours in the line in which our presence was controlled,. The quantity was coincident. Otherwise, as punishment, we continued staying whole half-day, or a whole day. In winter days, of intense cold, we crowded together one with the other, and this way, cold frozen , we waited the whistle that indicated the end of this discipline. In spite we felt that our legs were stacked to floor for staying so much time, we found strength to begin to run and to hide. The "Kapos" caught us for working, and we ran stunned, without being able to decide to which group we had to present, which "Kapo" was better and did not hit so much, and as much we looked for a better one, the result was worse. Formed in groups from 80 to 100 women, we were accompanied by some "Kapos", three or four armed soldiers and enormous dogs.
We left far from camp this way every day for diverse works. The road was large and difficult. Was necessary to walk with quick step, and the excited dogs assaulted whom was retarded. Without paying attention to feet bloody wounds that caused us wooden clogs, we ran as pushed by an invisible force. Our only objective was to escape from danger. But regrettably, death was in narrow relationship with us.
Once in the morning, after our formation as every day, 10 Jewish youths had to go somewhere with a group of other 50 Aryan women. We had decayed encourage, because we foresaw that we would be the victims of that day. It was a terrible time in the camp. The Nazi soldiers felt they had to distinguish among themselves, bringing as much as possible murdered people, to receive prizes. We arrived to a place where were many stones, and enormous beams. We had to order them. Each beam could hardly be lifted by four men. And us four loaded them with our last forces, from one side to another. The guard that controlled us, sharpened his teeth as a wild tiger. Before lifting the heavy load, already his stick hit our curved backs.
But even worse was the case of stones. A youth should load a stone without taking in consideration it's size. We had the terrible feeling that will never be able to forget. A youth of Byalistock's group called FREIDL (she was in Pruzhany's Ghetto) could not lift a heavy stone. The German came near her and began to hit . Suddenly she acquired an unheard force, lifted the stone and felt with her. The dog, attentive to owner's signs, rushed to the youth and pulled up pieces of her body. The young poor person screams cut whole place. We were not able to stop neither one minute, we should continue our work. Very soon arrived silence. It was so deep that one could hear our hearts palpitating . FREIDL laid in a blood river, very silent, with broad open eyes. Her eyes expressed a lot of fear and suffering, which will never allow us rest in peace.
The second victim this day was FEIGUELE LIEVITZKY, a youth of Pruzhany, a weak creature murdered by sanguinary Nazi watchers. Felt after being hit with the stick.
The way back to the camp, approximately 3/4 km., was very difficult. We 8 youths, should load the two cadavers. To none of Christian women was allowed to help us. Days like these repeated continually in all work places.
We entered the camp marching, conforming a trembling picture. Each group loaded with some deceased, and many times was difficult to recognize them, because they have been tortured. It was a mixture of blood, mud, and broken clothes. Fell this way daily dozens of women, and our quantity was every time less..
Also, accelerated our death the conditions in those we lived in camp after work. The whole place was loamy, in the humid climate earth was sticky, the clogs sunk in mud without being able to take them out. There was not water to drink, neither to be washed. When after some months we could take a bath, we ended dirtier that before (washing us almost without soap).
Next to the bathroom, out, was a faucet. Christian women put on in line, filled bottles with water and sold them in Jewish blocks for bread. We exchanged very happy , because we could not eat for the thirst. In all our food German added a powder that burned in the stomach, and for that reason we looked for some water to any price. It could be of a dirty faucet, a piece of ice or snow. The food was scarce, and to drink unhealthy water made us sick of dysentery. The bowels contracted every time more, the organism weakened, the feet almost did not move. The body happened to be only skin and bones, cheeks were sunken, and eyes seemed they wanted to leave their orbits.
Block 25, the death
Under these conditions, was already impossible to go to work, and they didn't allow us to stay in the camp. It was a risk, because frequently entered in the blocks Information Services Chief called TAUBER, and gathered all women in the block 25 - which was that of death - , and of there the road took to the crematory. Here was the place where many finished life of thirst, hunger and desperation.
In that time the camp didn't have hospital, and only a small ambulance assisted light wounded women. Frequently, these same patients were later the first ones to be killed during selection. Some women were sometimes not able not to go to work, and to stay in the line next to ambulance, but they should take care of not falling in TAUBER's hands.
I hoped the best, but without having another alternative one day I left and said goodbye to my young sister, that was already very weak due to dysentery that produced her the dirty water. While I advised her not to drink, she found a solution. She hid a bottle of water, and at night while I slept, she drank it. She stayed in the line next to the ambulance, and I left the camp without her for the first time . Our eyes crossed again, in the distance. I was afraid of thinking what could happen. The day stretched like an eternity. I already returned to the camp. I was the first one in running to the block. NECHELE was not there. I looked for her, but was vain.
I don't know where from came forces to write today about this, because it is the most tragic happening that I survived in the camp, and this so fresh in my memory, as if it has happened yesterday. I cried whole nights, without being able to live in peace, with the idea that never I will see her again. The youths of my "bed" consoled me. They were also already alone. Of three sisters GURVITZ left one. MINDL GOLOBRODKIN (of Byalistock that was in Pruzhany), did not have her older sister.
Day after our day the quantity of our people diminished, near and well-known beings fell dead in work for murderous guards and their dogs, and also happened cases of those that went voluntarily to death, for not wanting to fight without hope. Most disappeared in the frequent selections that were made almost daily. During mornings, in the lines organized for presence control, many sat down in the floor, resigned. Was allowed to them to be seated, and they avoided this way to stay on their tired feet. Some dawn I found seated one of the group called ETSHE RUDNITZKY, and another dawn to CHANE and FEGL RYBNIK.
SHULAMIT SURANOVSKY my friend, tried to convince me of going together with her, because anyway we could not survive. I also did not believe I could survive that hell . But I lacked the capacity to go voluntarily to death.
Two sisters (I believe their last name was ATTIN) surrendered to block 25, because one of them was already very weak. In those days, waiting the arrival of the cars that would take them to death, the sick sister died. The second wanted to escape, but was already impossible; she achieved to escape of there, but regrettably death pursued her, and in the second selection was taken to death.. This was told by my cousin ZLATE KULIHSEVSKY
The selection was frequently made in front of exit to work front door , when returning to the camp after a day of exhausting work. When entering we should run one after the other , and thin and weak women were stopped and separated, they had already drained their work force, now served only for gas cameras, and her fat was sent to make soap (R.I.F.) to wash us, and were fertilized fields of milled human bones.
The biggest selection was made when suddenly the order was (in German) "block shpere" that means "to stay locked in the blocks". We should later leave the blocks to the street naked, where TAUBER and his collaborators revised us as one who observes a horse in the fair, and "said" with a finger where we would go, right or left. Were separated all those who had thin bodies, who had a wound or a grain, , then registered her number tattooed in the arm, and her destiny was confirmed .
TAUBER, the beast of human appearance, felt in his appropriate role. Tall and thin, with cold murder look, he passed among the lines with the highest serenity, with neither a grimace in his face. Who cried or protested against his verdict, remained silent when he came close. An atrocious fear appropriated our bodies not only when he came close, but also when we listened his damned voice. When he saw the smallest movement, whipped and tramped without pity.
On Sundays, if we didn't leave to work, they found some task in the camp. Behind the blocks were sand mountains that we should take outside. For this objective they ordered us to put on the coats reverse, with the back to the front, and grabbing the borders of the coat, they threw us three or four shovels of sand. Staying one in a line , we loaded sand some hundreds meters and then we threw it. This way were we going forth and back without stopping, and without eating the whole day. We were also accompanied by lashes and of humiliations of German "kapos". This was another of the methods to torture detainees.
Certainly, not all tolerated such a difficult day. Our quantity was every time less. The block 25 was open in front of us, waiting for us. Who was very tired, found her "redemption" in "that" block. There left life youngest of three siblings FROIMCHIK, and also my school friends SIME FURES (these they are only those I remember).
An different chapter was for us - those of Pruzhany - the "Budy" camp (near Auschwitz).
One morning, suddenly, young women were joined to be transported. Many ran voluntarily, with the hope that they would be better. there. A group of some 100 women left. Nobody knew where they were taken. We doubted about if it would be a camp, or German were going to annihilated them directly. The enigma was clarified when after some months: some youths of so numerous group appeared in our camp. Among them were FEIGL LEIZEROVITSH and two sisters CHAIE and SHEINE of Popeliev.
Through them we found out how terrible was the form by which were eliminated our near and well-known people, among them were JUDIT and RESHE BOREISHO. "Budy" was not an organized camp, only a camp which had some blocks, and all the attention of guardians, inspectors and bosses was directed to Jewish youths. Women made the work of horses, they dragged trams with stones, rubbish and sand, at the same time that Germans hit them without pity. After some short time, lived only the few ones that returned to Birkenau.
FEIGL LEIZEROVITSH told us that she was an entire night in a shanty where were gathered deceased, unconscious under a mountain of cadavers. After the blows she received she regained consciousness, and crawling abandoned the place.
When returning we were told that here we were in a paradise. Can you imagine a paradise where crematories burned daily 24 hours without interruption, and swallowed hundreds of people daily?
Only wire fences separated us of a crematory , and we saw very well what happened in the yard. Some motorized men leave continually of inside with small carts, they threw something (for granted, human ash), and returned with elements empty.
We saw burning fire that raised more of a meter high, in the great chimney. We feel and we breathe the thick and black smoke making circles until arriving to sky.
Daily arrived new transports of all Europe corners. Last months was placed a train that enters the camp, and goes directly to crematory entrance. This way, no people could know until last moment the final point of his trip, because through boxcars windows they saw many Jews in the camp. Frequently, of each transport they chose a young group, fresh energy in exchange for detainees and eliminated.
There was a time when the four crematory had "work excess". Then a part of those gasified was burned in blazes. For this end, constantly arrived trucks loaded with logs and tree branches.
To small children, beasts threw them alive to the fire. Once broke the silence of the night the warm innocent cry of our brothers and sisters. After this, we didn't sleep many nights, we didn't cry because we no longer had tears to cry our great misfortune.
After first mid 1943, most of Pruziners were no longer. Remaining alive was a small group, which had the aspect of alive-dead. When I passed in front of a window and unintentionally was reflected, I got scared of my own aspect.
Greetings and help from people close to us
A time later camp conditions improved a little. The mud disappeared after asphalting paths among blocks. Were built some bathrooms with many faucets where each one could wash after work. The frequent selections were also interrupted, and was closed block 25. Our happiness doesn't last too much. Some weeks later, camp leaders renovated the bloody work.
At 1943's end, arrived greetings from Pruzhany's men, and a new hope woke up in all, maybe is alive some near relative, a friend. There, I found out that my two cousins were living: ISER KULISHEVSKY and LEIZER ZHUK of Malech. I saw them in some opportunities. They survived Auschwitz and later perished in the tragic march from Poland to Germany.
We listened and saw our men's self-denial and abnegation, and - who could do it - helped known women with groceries packages. This process was secret and arrived through diverse means. The portion of bread and some soup was insufficient to calm hunger. Therefore, a "trade" happened in the camp. The higher "value" was given to bread. Were many work places. and detainees furtively took out diverse articles as: clothes, shoes, sweaters, cigarettes, and diverse groceries. We exchanged it and we also made money. Same thing happened in women and men camps. But not all were capable to "self organize" (according camp language). Then if somebody received an unknown man's help, it was with a lot of pleasure.
In the "Revir" (the hospital)
After a year of exhausting work, under the sky in days of intense cold, rain and mud, I achieved to be accepted to work in "Revir" (the hospital), that then already occupied many blocks and numerous personnel. Each one of us dreamt of having a roof on the head.
I received a clean bed to sleep, a little more food, and most important was that I should not present myself to selections since I belonged to stable personnel.
The treatment received from block leaders was more human, and it encouraged me, in spite that at the beginning I had a very difficult task, as night surveillance is. I assisted sick persons at night, I was very efficient, and very soon I gained block's superior sympathy. Was changed my shift, and I worked during the day as nurse assistant..
In more than one opportunity I thought: what for is useful the whole ceremony with the "Revir" if sick persons hardly receive help? And there were sick severe illness as typhus, dysentery, scabies, and infected grains. They were rarely treated. Most died after terrible sufferings or were moved away after frequent selections.
In those occasions, TAUBER entered as gale among patients, and threw them of beds as they were balls. In the death block, many sick persons acquired suddenly renovated forces, and they ran to hide. Some dressed hospital personnel clothes, but it was difficult to escape from TAUBER's view.
In one of those selections, when the block was almost empty, lacked a sick person according to lists figures . TAUBER ordered to look for and find her, because contrary case would catch one of us. We all were still impressed of moving cries of sick women that already left us forever, and now we should give others to death. We were staying defenseless, without being able to move of the place. The Block Superior began to cry, because otherwise she would be a victim as any of us.
Together with us, worked a Belgian Jewish woman, some 45 years old . She was running as crazy and screamed that Nazis would take her in exchange for the other one, for her age. She colored a little her face for not seeming so pale. We formed the line in front of the criminal, and we hoped to know on which of us will fall the punishment. He looked one after another, and in his bestial face sketched a small smile, not very usual thing in him.
What sadistic savage thought in that moment? He left without taking anybody and we all released ourselves to cry. The oldest lady kissed us happy. Later was demonstrated that who was lacking had left the block by back door, and hid in a car under chauffeur's seat, that was willing take the sick person for himself . When the car returned of the crematory, was found the woman almost dismayed. When she was brought in front of TAUBER he said: "if you had such an intelligent occurrence, you will remain alive". He ordered to cure her, and also gave her good work. The Nazis were capable of such ironies.
During another opportunity we were ordered to prepare clean beds, and in a short time were brought some pregnant women . We were surprised, because in the camp that cases never happened . They had a special diet, and we offered them the best attention. The childbirths were in another block, and then they returned together with their children. Every day came a commission to visit them, and to have fun with the creatures.
One week later, suddenly arrived a car, parked next to the block and took all the women with their children to gas cameras. These terrible acts happened frequently in "Revir".
I was satisfied after some time , because personnel was reduced, and I was excluded together with other Jewish youths. There worked sisters CHAIE and SHEINE of Popeleiv, LIUBE GERTEK of Byalistok and MINDL GOLOBRODKIN (all arrived from Pruzhany).
In "Union" ammunition manufacture
Some days after leaving "Revir", were selected young women to work in a manufacture. Who could imagine, after surviving most terrible times, now when I already had a normal human aspect, I would be detained because of a grain in the body that I produced for negligence?.
In spite that death was our constant company, I never felt it as close as now, when I saw myself among a group of alive skeletons whose bones stayed together thanks to the skin. I already "saw" how I will be sent to the crematory, and would be incinerated as all my dear beings, as millions of Jews. What for served to suffer so much up to now?
My thoughts were interrupted by a tall Nazi that controlled again those judged to death. He asked me; what are you doing here? A doctor of Byalistock - PETE FUCKS - also intervened to my favor, and I left the danger.
After some days, we went to work to the ammunition manufacture. There worked also men, and among them were MEIR KRASNER and NONIUSH GOLDSTEIN. Of women we were only some: SHOSHKE GOLDBERG (of Popoliev), NINKE ARGUSHEVITZ of Hainowka, a lady whose name was DOBE from Warsaw who lived some years before the war in Pruzhany, and me. The other women were of diverse cities and countries of Europe. At the beginning was difficult to understand each other because of the language, but we were close one to another due to same sufferings.
Next to my work table, most people was of Poland. One of Bochnie, two of Bendin, one of Sosnovz, one of Krakow, one of Warsaw, two of Byaistock, a German, a Hungarian, a Greek, a Dutch, and some other ones. The language considered as most beautiful was our "Litvak (Lithuanian) Yiddish". All women confirmed it, and we felt proud of our origin.
Union ammunitions manufacture was big, and were about 1000 people who worked 12 hours in day and night shifts The work was not difficult but it had a lot of responsibility, and we were watched over very carefully. Germans controlled us of all sides, and smallest error was considered sabotage and punishment was very serious.
Discipline was very severe and we worked as robots. Were made frequent inspections when entering to the manufacture and when leaving it. In one of those controls was found hidden gunpowder among clothes of some women. One of them was a granddaughter of the YAGLOM family of Pruzhany. During a lot of time they were tortured in the "bunker" (a small camera where the person could only be bent or staying, and could not receive food). But later they were hung in camp yard, in all detainees' presence. This impressed us terribly, and during a lot of time we were sunk in bereavement.
Neighbors of the manufacture had a carpentry shop where worked a group of men of Auschwitz camp. Behind wire fences I frequently saw ISER KULISHEVSKY, HERSHEL VORAVSKY, LOSIE and ASIE VELIENIETZKY.
With this last one happened a misfortune, since in the work one machine amputated him the fingers of one hand, and I saw him with a bandage sustained in his shoulder. When we could do it, we maintained brief conversations and we consoled one another with good news .
Bombings happened in last months of 1944 were very encouraging for us. In our hearings sounded as the most beautiful music. With a contained happiness we saw as Nazis ran to hide in the refuges.
In spite that walls of manufacture trembled for close explosions, our hope was at any time was stronger. At the same time, we were scared by the idea that Germans would annihilate us before the end of the war. Possibly, would had happen this way if allied armies had not come close to us in such a short time.
January 18 1945. Moved us the news that we would be evacuated of Auschwitz. In the camp dominated a disorder. At evening Nazis ordered us to form lines, and to be prepared to leave marching. After distributing only a portion of bread, we moved away from the camp. We marched: all those of Auschwitz and Birkenau, men and women in separate groups. Sick persons were left in the "Revir" and nine days after leaving the camp, we were liberated by Soviet army. Was so close the redemption, that they had us far from knowing this issue..
It was a cold, icy winter night, and we had heat, for the quick step. Germans hurried us because the enemy was coming close to us. The march was every time more difficult, we took out our clothes ,and even the bread was heavy. The shoes, pressed inflamed feet.
Many of the group began to stop marching until they fell. Germans shot them.
After walking 70 km., Nazis put us in opened load boxcars, some 100 people in each boxcar, and staying, tight as herrings, we traveled toward Germany's inner lands. In Frankfurt we were stopped for constant bombing. We were amid the fire, and it was for me an enigma. How could we leave here without damages? After some days of trip, we arrived to the field "Ravensbric" where I met BEBE EPSHTEIN (the pharmacist's daughter) that had arrived there from the field "Raiska" (near Auschwitz).
After six weeks of hunger, they passed us to another camp called "Malchov" in which hunger was worse again. A certain day, they chose a group of women through the Red Cross, who were sent to Switzerland. Among them was PELTE POMERANIETZ of Pruzhany.
Then they transferred us to Leipzig. Most of women were here Polish. They received us with exclamations: "Jewish Ladies : It's a long time we do not see each other"! Later the treatment with us was not very kind, but that doesn't last much time, because bombings were very frequent, and we left the camp.
This happened April 1945. We walked trough fields and forests days and nights, without rest. At the front of the group a German managed his motorcycle to inspect the road.. This gave us courage. But forces abandoned us because of hunger. Constantly we left behind our deceased, and dispelled who were shot. After some days of walking, Germans allowed us to sleep in a field, and immediately all collapsed in a deep dream. When waking up, we were wet by the rain, but we didn't feel it, because we slept so good as in the most fluffed bed.
Do you think that is possible to sleep walking? Yes! We slept in lines of five, but not all together, only of two or three.
Hunger tortured us every time more. It was necessary to look for a solution. It was at the beginning of spring, on the fields already grew grass for domestic animals. We found a vegetable spice with a thick shaft, we discarded the leaves and the skin of the shaft, and it had a light sweet flavor. With that vegetable we nurtured ourselves many days. Also picked up with our hands recently sowed potatoes which we ate with it's dirty skin. But we did not get it so easy. It was a fight between living or dying, because when we ran of the road to the field, guards shoot us. Many women deceased laying on the floor with a potato in the hand.
In an opportunity, was seen a peasant with a cart loaded with onions who went to sow his field. The whole hungry crowd rushed in that address, and at the same time the Nazis opened fire against us, and fell many victims. To FEIGL LEIZOVITCH, a bullet perforated the towel that had in the head instead of a handkerchief, but didn't happened her anything. To LEIKE RUBIN, a youth of Kosovo who was in Pruzhany Ghetto) a bullet penetrated her leg. She fell over the field. What happened with her?, we don't know it.
In the course of the march we wondered: where Germans were taking us? Will this finish at some time?
After 13 days of wandering, we were taken to a walled field with several lines of spiked wires, near a town. Here we should rest, to be able to continue. Other groups also arrived, and in total we were some 10.000 women of different nationalities.
Our Chiefs ordered town inhabitants to bring us groceries immediately. The whole day German - men and women - , came with cars with products. We put on in a line and they began to distribute rice and some potatoes, little by little. When they were near my line, suddenly began a tumult. We listened the noise of airplanes and began a strong bombing. We went to bed in the yard, and the SS also looked for to be protected among us. Continuous bombs explosions were listened. All surroundings were in flames. We had only one desire: to receive some food, since if we have to die, at least to die satisfied.
After a short time, returned the silence. We received the food, and we began to cook a soup of rice with potatoes. We found an old can and we used it as pot, and now lacked water and logs. With great effort we got it.
We were allowed to rest an whole day and night, and later we continued walking. We rested in several places, but we didn't receive food. We cooked thistles with water and nurtured ourselves. Finally we arrived to our destiny. It was next to the Elba River. April 22 1945. They brought us here to pass to the other side of the river with the Americans, because this side of the river would be occupied by Russian. There was only one bridge to cross the river, and we were left for the end. Here were concentrated a multitude of people. First passed the military, later the population of cities and near villages. At nightfall, we were not able to pass the river and were taken to a near barn, where we fall asleep on the fresh straw.
When waking up during the morning we didn't find none of the guards. It was incredible. We were free. We kissed each other and we cried of happiness. The first thing we made was to look for food, and we found a well in which were kept potatoes. We made fire and we roasted the potatoes.
We are able to silence the hunger a little. Suddenly we listen a German voice. Appeared an armed man, he insulted us, and screamed that we should go to the river as soon as possible, because here was not our place. Before abandoning the barn he shot some shots that impacted in a woman that died at once. We went disappointed again to the place we were previous night. We found the same picture: surroundings us was a great quantity of militaries and civil men. All ran toward the other side of the river, and our turn did not arrive yet. When began to be dark, I listened airplanes noise, and strong bombing. All escaped toward different addresses. All surroundings were left empty.
We, a small group of women, entered a near yard, and we stayed there. After mid night silence was complete . Wrapped by darkness, we waited next events. It hardly began dawn and we listened distant echoes, every time higher and stronger. Suddenly: HURRAH!! HURRAH!! Is it a dream or do we really listen it? These screams were known for us. Pruzhany's population received this way red army in 1939.
I tremble of emotion, and tears of happiness flow on my eyes. After a short time, a Russian soldier was next to us. He recognizes us for our aspect and he knew who we were. He ordered us to change our clothes, eat, drink and rest.
We left our hiding place toward the same road where two days before we were pursued and mistreated by the Nazis. We leave and we look continually around, to know if somebody pursues us.
Is truth that we survived? In spite that each one of us had the aspect of skeletons, our step is strong and lively. I feel as my blood is renewed, and I recover new forces. The road is full with military. We greet them crying of happiness. We continue ahead as recently born people, free people.