b. Mielec, Poland, 1924
Going back and forth to work every day on the train, we could see the flowers starting to grow and the trees blooming. People spoke about how good it would be to be liberated.
When we came back to camp on May 4th, just like every other day, we got our portion of soup and went to sleep. The next morning, there was no 5:00 A.M. reveille. I heard people saying “Look out, look out the windows.” I looked out and there were no guards or machine guns; the guard towers were empty. There weren't any guards at the main gate, either.
Even so, everybody stayed inside because we suspected that the Germans were up to something. Finally at about 10:00A.M., a jeep and four American soldiers pulled inside the camp and informed us that we were free. Liberated!
Few people left that day. The majority were too weak to walk. The second day, more people left. They felt stronger because they were fed better. Finally, on the third day, I left with a friend from Mielec.
We didn't go through the main gate; we tunneled underneath the double fence to the outside. I didn't believe I could safely leave through the gate.
The nearest city was Linz, Austria, about twenty miles away. We hitchhiked, we walked, we rested. This short distance took us three days.
In Linz, we walked around still wearing our concentration camp clothes. Suddenly, sirens sounded. An Austrian woman opened her door and told us to come inside. There was a curfew; no one was allowed out after 5:00P.M.
It was a Mrs. Weber who took us in. She called her neighbors over, one of whom was a barber. He took us out to the backyard, shaved our long hair off and burned our clothes. Then we took our first hot shower with real soap in many, many years.
Mrs. Weber gave us new underwear and nice clothes. These things had belonged to her two sons who died while fighting in the German army.
She showed us the bedroom where we would sleep. It had two beds in it, but we slept on the floor because we weren't used to sleeping in a bed. In three months, she nursed me back from my weight of seventy-five pounds to about eighty-five pounds.
Feeling stronger, I decided to travel, to try to locate my brother. In Italy, I found someone who told me that there was a man in Germany who had been