Majdanek

In, in ’44, when they reached- when the war was nearly finished, she [Regina Beckman, Rose’s mother] said that she realised that something big was happening, because they were- all the Germans were in the courtyard burning documents. But it all happened so very quickly; they didn’t have time to burn the documents. And then, all the inmates were put on trains, to be taken to Auschwitz. They were emptying the camp in this way. She then pretended that she was far ill-er than what she was. That she couldn’t possibly stand on her feet and she... To be allowed to go...in the…what do you call it, obviously it wasn’t the… in the car that the German was driving with the eight remaining children, or the seven remaining children. She then went with this German. And this is really what saved our lives, because instead of going by train directly to Auschwitz, he went by road. And, as they were crossing, outside Krakow, the woods in Krakow, the Russian tanks came through. So when the German saw the red flag, he knew his time was up. So he took out his gun and just shot himself, next to my mother. And the tank drove into this… what would you call it? Not a lorry, it’s small, you know like the Army…thing. Anyway, they- thinking that it was probably full of German soldiers, but it wasn’t. It was the few children and one wounded woman by that time, because she got wounded by all the – the glass, the splashing that happened. They didn’t know what to do with us, so they took us out of there. Put us on the side of the road. [half-laughs at the absurdity] The tank drove off. But I think what they did, is they must have gone to probably into Krakow, and told the Red Cross. Because they came and then… took us in. …To what I learned later on, was a… an assembly place in Krakow itself, where they put everybody that they could find there… and where later on, people would search for their families.

My mother had another child, an older child, born before me. When we were in the camp they separated children from mothers but because I was so young they said I can stay with my mother. She told the story, not to me directly, but to my son when he grew up, that one day, some of those Nazis that were in charge of the camp got drunk. They went into the barrack where there was about 8 children, very young children, & they killed them all. They killed them by- Some with their hands & some by taking them by their feet & throwing them against the wall. And… [sighs] I mean when my son told me this, I don’t know really how my mother survived this. I mean obviously she lost all her family in the war. So how my mother survived these events, I don’t know. How she survived the knowledge of my father’s dying, not knowing that he'd died but seeing his boots on somebody else’s feet… I mean, I don’t… Some of the stories that she told Benjamin [Ruth's son], she never did tell me. She kept me with her all the time. When there was the the roll call she would put me under the bench & then she would go out, stand near German women, women that were not Polish but were there for other reasons. She thinks that that probably helped her not to be selected. So it was each time, it was hoping that she wouldn’t be selected. Hoping she can go out & do a little work & bring back a little scrap of food. So I understand that, having survived such horrors. Who wants to talk about it? You really want to forget about it.