Oral History

Lilly Appelbaum Malnik describes death march from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen

Germany invaded Belgium in May 1940. After the Germans seized her mother, sister, and brother, Lilly went into hiding. With the help of friends and family, Lilly hid her Jewish identity for two years. But, in 1944, Lilly was denounced by some Belgians and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau via the Mechelen camp. After a death march from Auschwitz, Lilly was liberated at Bergen-Belsen by British forces.


Word came to us that we were going to evacuate Auschwitz. Why were we evacuating Auschwitz? It is because the Russians were coming close by. And so we...we all walked out Auschwitz and we started walking. And we started walking, we walked for days. I'll never forget it. I don't know how many days we walked. We walked and then we took cattle cars and then we walked again. And as we walked we heard gun shots and they told us to keep on marching. We heard gun shots and they were shooting people in the back who couldn't keep up with the walking. It ended up being called the death march because the ravines and the gutters, they were all red from blood. From people, some people who spoke Polish, we were walking through Poland, and some people who thought they could escape would try and escape. Some people who couldn't keep up with the walking anymore, they got weak, they threw all their bundles away and they walked until they couldn't keep up anymore, they fell behind and the Germans just shot them. We saw people being shot in the front in their chests, in their back. They were laying all over, on top of hills, behind trees. It was really like a war zone. And this is how we finally arrived in a camp called Bergen-Belsen.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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