b. Uzhorod, Czechoslovakia (became Ungvár, Hungary), 1920
The Germans were excellent at deception, at keeping us in the dark.
They invaded Hungary in March 1944. After Passover, on April 18, Jews were ordered to pack up to fifty kilograms of the most important necessities and gather at the synagogue. They told us we were being sent to Germany to work, because the German men were fighting in the front lines.
They took us by train to a nearby city. That evening, my family—my father, mother, brother, sister and her child, and I—found ourselves in an abandoned brick factory, in cramped quarters. Every day more people arrived from the surrounding commmunity.
All kinds of rumors circulated about where we would be taken. Some said to Austria, some said to Germany. On May 24, all of us were told to pack up again, that we were being “relocated.”
The next day we arrrived at Auschwitz. We had no idea where we were or what to expect. As we got off the freight wagons, SS men with dogs and a whole crew of men in striped uniforms hollered, “Heraus, heraus, schnell, schnell.” Most of us were in a daze—children crying, holding on to their mothers' skirts and dresses; older people had to be carried out.
The women were sent to one side, the men to the other side.
Then came the selection. I alone from my family was sent with the young men who seemed to be in good health. The older men and children—my father and brother among them—were sent to the other side.
Those who were selected to our side were ordered into a big barrack where we were told to undress, put our clothing in order, and remember where we left it, so that when we got back from the showers we would have no difficulty finding it. When we came out of the showers we didn't have to look for our clothes. Each of us got a striped uniform and a pair of clogs.
In the morning came the same reception, “Heraus, heraus, schnell, schnell.” As we assembled in the courtyard, we inquired about our families from those who had arrived a few days before us. They answered us, “Look up.” We saw smoke and smelled the stench. “This is where your family went to, ” the prisoners told us.
We were handed cards to fill out the vital information—date of birth, name, home country, and occupation.