Oral History

Bart Stern describes deportation to Auschwitz

Following the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, Bart was forced into a ghetto established in his home town. From May to July 1944, the Germans deported Jews from Hungary to the Auschwitz killing center in occupied Poland. Bart was deported by cattle car to Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, he was selected to perform forced labor, drilling and digging in a coal mine. As Soviet forces advanced toward the Auschwitz camp in January 1945, the Germans forced most of the prisoners on a death march out of the camp. Along with a number of ill prisoners who were in the camp infirmary, Bart was one of the few inmates who remained in the camp at the time of liberation.

Transcript

We were pushed up on railroad cars, actually cattle cars. But the amazing thing, what I still remember is, that on the way, being driven, or herded, by the Hungarian gendarmes, we were singing so...songs of hope. I do not remember exactly how to translate the song but I know where, which part of the Psalms it is in. And we thought that we are already enough in it [the cattle car]. We were about 50 people or 60. Twenty more, 30 more, so we must have been in that little cattle car, which is about a third of the size of an American railroad car, about 120, 140. And before we knew, whoever didn't make it of the family in the same car was cut off and they, they just slammed the doors, and those who were outside, they still had to put barbed wire on the little bit of opening which was on the outside on the top of the railroad car. These car were usually used for cattle transports or for grain. In the car the situation got by the minute worse and worse. People were looking to find a spot for the older...elder people to sit down. There was no space to sit down, because if you sat down you couldn't get up, because we were herded in, squeezed like in a sardine box. The journey actually lasted--Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday--three nights and about three days. If anybody had something to eat--because in the ghettos we already used up most of the stuff what we have been successful taking out of our homes when we were taken out into the ghetto--had to share it with others. But we realized that it is not a simple journey of just a few hours. People were holding back, or they couldn't as generously pass it out to others. Then suddenly we start seeing that people are taking care of their needs in the cars, and the stench got worse every minute.


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  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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