The head of the Stutthof camp looked us over carefully as we were being prepared for the transport. Since he was accepting only Jews it was clear that the trip was bad news. Rumors were flying everywhere that we were being sent to Treblinka to be gassed. Others whispered that they would not take us very far. They would just take us into the forest and shoot us.
"Why are we being inspected like cattle?" we kept reflecting when they ordered us to march in pairs in front of the commandant's fat face. While we were in Stutthof we wore the uniforms of Russian prisoners of war, often dirty and full of holes. For the trip we were given winter uniforms, and the commandant was inspecting them to make sure that there were no holes and that all the buttons were sewed on.
"Where are we going? Why are they so concerned with our appearance?" How the rumor got started I do not know, but the story that was making the rounds was that we were going to be traded to the Russians in return for German prisoners. We all said, "Nonsense!" But deep down in our hearts we believed the rumor because we wanted to believe it.
Those who were remaining behind took their leave of us in different ways. Since we had spent barely two months here, we had not quite managed to grow into the life of the camp. Because we had lived in isolation in a separate block, we had not had an opportunity to make close contacts with the other prisoners. Isolation breeds alienation and even enmity, so when, one frosty January morning, we marched along the tracks, guarded by SS men, nobody gave us as much as a friendly smile.
We waited dejectedly for the train that would be taking us into the unknown. It was a long time before the train arrived. We made small talk about anything in order to keep our minds from the vexing thoughts of "Where are we going, to another camp or to the gas?"
Suddenly a train arrived on the tracks. It was empty. We did not