Our Voices, Our Lives

On one evening, late afternoon, two or three days later, a big commotion occurred in our prison. Some prisoners had noticed that the guards had left; they attacked the food stores. Imre’s brother-in-law, Shani, and I, and his four friends, and I, decided to leave the camp, and we began marching through the forest. This was by then late in the evening, late at night, close to midnight. We came to a farmhouse; we knocked on the door, woke up the residents, who were scared stiff, an older couple. We looked like angels of death. We were skeletal. I failed to mention that we were infected by lice terribly; we were unable to treat the invasion of the lice that occurred, and many of the prisoners were dying of typhoid fever, in this last camp, Gunskirchen. In German I said to them, “Please cook us some food right away,” and they took out some porridge, and they cooked some porridge for us. We quickly gobbled it, because we were scared that they were going to come, the Germans were going to come and catch us. And so, by this time it was like 2:00 in the morning; we began trying to make our way through the forest carefully, but we developed a diarrhetic attack, because we had not had food in so long, and they had apparently put some fatty substance into it, so we developed tremendous diarrhetic attacks. At 6:00 or thereabouts in the morning, we came to a large, paved highway. We were so weak at the moment that we really decided, hey, whatever happens, happens, and we began marching in an easterly direction. As we marched for about a half a kilometer, all of a sudden a vehicle was moving towards us, from east going west, a vehicle we had never seen before. It came to a stop, we came to a stop, and then we recognized these were not Germans. So we began shouting, and the jeep came close by, and it stopped, and it had three GIs. And the GIs, we began communicating with them as best we could. And of course, at this point we lost one of the men, did not decide to join us, so there were four adults and myself, and I was clearly 14-15 [...] I’m gonna stop for a moment [collecting himself]. I must have looked very pitiful, because I had lice, I was skeletal, and one of the GIs jumped out of the jeep and put me in the back seat. The jeep turned around and went back to Wels, the nearby city, and there was a small American field hospital set up, and the three GIs pulled me out and put me in a stretcher, and three other GIs who were from the hospital detachment because they had Red Cross bands, cut the pants off of me. I had literally huge boils, pussy boils, all over my body, crawling with lice. I must have looked like a real shaggy dog. And they washed my body [collecting himself], as I lay there, one of the men was washing my body and was crying the whole time. It was such a touching moment. It was one of the most touching things that’s ever happened to me. (Oscar Ehrenburg, “A Medic’s Care,” from Disc 1.)

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Hoag, Becky Ebner; Mueller, Grace Hoffman; Patrick, Roxann; Pierce, Jeannette. Our Voices, Our Lives: Twenty Holocaust Survivors Remember. Illustrations by Grace Hoffman Mueller. Includes 2 DVDs. San Antonio: Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d. [2011].

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