Oral History

Leo Schneiderman describes conditions on a cattle train during deportation from Lodz to Auschwitz

The Germans invaded Poland in September 1939. Leo and his family were confined to a ghetto in Lodz. Leo was forced to work as a tailor in a uniform factory. The Lodz ghetto was liquidated in 1944, and Leo was deported to Auschwitz. He was then sent to the Gross-Rosen camp system for forced labor. As the Soviet army advanced, the prisoners were transferred to the Ebensee camp in Austria. The Ebensee camp was liberated in 1945.


And there we were in that train, over a hundred people. The only facility in the train was two buckets for over a hundred men, women, and children. And the train was standing on one place. It was unbearable hot. Lack of air. So some people had an idea that the minute we start moving it's going to get cooler. But at one moment we heard that the gate opened up in the boxcar, so we thought maybe they changed their mind. They're going to leave us out. But instead they brought a few dozen Jews discovered in a hiding place, they were all badly beaten up because they were hiding. I remember one young man, all his front teeth was kicked out. And one boy's face was so badly swollen, it was just a nose that we could see--no eyes. And they added to our car. And soon we started to move. It didn't cool off. And at one moment we heard a young teenage girl crying. She had to go to the bucket in front of everybody. Her mother, her sister tried to shield her with a coat. A man was begging the people around to give a little more room his pregnant wife. Me being among the youngsters, I was asked to climb up those packages, and look out to see where are we going. I start reading signs. One recognized those names. He said that we are moving south towards Krakow. I also saw some Polish peasants lining the road. They were probably used to those scenes, those trains. Some made signs to us, pointing to the sky. And some went with the fingers across the throat, the throat. I didn't tell the people what I saw.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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