Liebau

Few days before the liberation we couldn’t see the guards. It’s only it’s only two guards left. So they, they ran away because they came quicker than expected. And the French prisoners who knew something about these mechanical things, dismantled the mines. The mines were there to blow us up. And it was pure luck because things came quicker, the Russians, than they expected because they had no time to do it. So obviously when the real day arrived, when the Russians put their foot up to the camp, and that really something I’ll never forget. First of all, we were able to come together properly with the French prisoners and hugging and celebrating, we even nearly collapsing on the floor, no energy but we are free, free. And the interesting thing was, this Russian army, there was a Russian Jewish officer. He knew a bit of Yiddish, you know, because the parents, the new Russian generation did not speak Yiddish but he was an older man and, you know, it’s going back now 60 years and the parents couldn’t speak Russian properly, or whatever. These people spoke Yiddish and he knew. And he was telling us a story, you see they were, had to come through Poland, great part of Poland, and their was one of the Polish town, it was famous of Jewish population. And when he come to this Polish place, where the Polish and Russian language is a bit similar, and he asked the Polish resident, ‘Can I see some Jewish people? I am Jewish and I want to see some sister, brothers in Poland! There were a lot of people here, living here.’ And this Polish man... said to him, ‘Come with me, I will show you where your brother, sisters are!’, and he took him to out of the town and he said, ‘Can you see that hillside? There is about over ten thousand buried there! That’s where your sister brothers. And which are not there, they took them away and they never came back.’ And he just burst into tears after that. ‘I am going to find these Germans, what they’ve done to our people. That is despicable and I will not have it.’ And he was telling us this story and crying. And they were themselves very short of food and medicine but whatever he could get from the soldiers to share it with us, he would. And then we got together with these French political prisoners and we went to town, to Liebau which is a few kilometres. And the Russian had this jeep, you know, they took us, I was one of the, I spoke German, a couple of others, so we went to town. We got to find food and clothes, we want things. You know, it was a very funny thing; we got into this Liebau with the French prisoners. I had to speak ’cause I speak German, and some other girls spoke German and we went and we said who we were and we were out there, we were working in this factory. And we are from Hungary, from France, from here from there. And, and they didn’t now anything about this factory, and there was a German woman when I told her the story we went to this terrible place in Auschwitz, and they kill people, they, they were stunned and she was crying. I said, what had they done to us? ‘My husband is missing. One of my sons is crippled, his legs been shot off. And one of his brother, and the brother died and she is all alone and she didn’t know there was such a horrible thing going on with the Jewish people. And she said, ‘There were some Jewish people in Liebau and I didn’t know that. But I didn’t know where they were gone? Nobody knew what happened to the Jewish people? Now you come and tell us that in our doorstep such a horrible thing is happening.’ They couldn’t believe it. And she hardly had anything but whatever she had, she had to give it to us. You know, and, and she was really, you could see, she was in tears and sorry because they wake up, not only Hitler, dragged in their men and lost their lives and they suffering and the glory gone and all the promises what they are going to have, they just got poverty and broken families and Jewish people had been destroyed like this. They couldn’t believe it. The facts came out, the, the true events came to light. And and it was a joke what they did. They put up this big yellow star, this French prisoners, to say we are Jewish. We are Jews, they, they, we are proud of our star, they made us feel disgraceful but we are proud of our star and they put up these yellow stars and went to town. And when we got back to the camp because we were no time to, there was there was no time to just moving because we were so broken and tired and hungry. And as we got a bit more food and medicine, so slowly, slowly we got better. We stayed in this place, not too long, possibly two three weeks and one day, the four of us went to walk in the in the nearby forest, lovely walks there, and there was hiding the man who run the factory, like the manager, Mr Lasky was his name. And they called the factory Lasky. And he had one artificial leg, couldn’t go very far and the French prisoner said, ‘I kill him, I kill him!’ And I said, ‘You are not one of them, you don’t kill him! Let him be there, perhaps he’ll have a taste of starvation.’ And he was begging for us. He says, ‘What he says? He says, he beg we give him some food. I said, ‘We don’t have any. We are hungry ourselves. I told him because he couldn’t speak French and the French prisoner couldn’t speak German. And I won’t let him kill him. He wanted to kill him. I said, ‘No!’ His name was Jean, and he was a dentist by profession. He couldn’t speak, very few German words he knew but couldn’t sort of make a sentence sort of conversation. He knew what the Germans used the words, ‘Work harder!’ or this or the name of the food, but he didn’t speak German properly.

 
 

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