Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust

By Anita Brostoff; Sheila Chamovitz | Go to book overview

On the Way to Health
Ilona Weiss
b. Kosino, Czechoslovakia, 1923

A Marvelous Feeling

On Sunday noon, April 15, 1945, we heard the loudspeaker announcing “Greetings, everybody. The British Armed Forces have just liberated Camp BergenBelsen.”

The healthy girls went on a rampage. They went into the warehouses. They took bicycles, sewing machines, typewriters. My sister Edie, who was well, went into a barrack where Nazis had lived. In their hurry to leave they had left behind suitcases packed with silk pajamas, cashmere sweaters, dresses, crocodile leather shoes and belts, a mink coat and many other beautiful things.

Most of all, we wanted food. Finally on Monday evening we got some porridge cooked with potatoes. We ate very carefully and slowly. Later the British brought us some condensed sweet milk. I drank at least a half gallon a day.

They gave us some cigarettes which we sold for potatoes. But there was no wood, so we cut the mink coat to pieces, made a fire with it and cooked the potatoes.

A former Kapo would deliver our food in a big pot. With his filthy, bare hand, he would take the meat and potatoes out of the container. The girls didn't want to eat what was left.

He had the nerve to say to us, “Eat, you stupid Hungarians.” We told the Canadians, who kicked him in the butt and told him that if he dared come close to the barrack, they would put him in jail.

“Musserem!he shouted at us on his way out, still hoping for the last word. But we were rid of him.

So we had food and whatever else we could find. All in all, it was a marvelous feeling—no Kapos, no Nazis, no greedy people calling us names.

But the death rate was incredible even after liberation. Most died, after typhus, of heart failure.


Fried Chicken

Ironically, it was now that my sister Edie got sick. Before the liberation, the SS women made her drag dead bodies to the burial pit, and she got infected with typhus.

-249-

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