Journey to Odessa, Ukraine
Oral History Item Type Metadata
Well, at first I met him, but then in Auschwitz I didn't see him anymore. And we stayed there for, I think, a couple of weeks; and then the Russians started to evacuate us east, because again, they didn't know if Auschwitz would stay in the hands of the Russians and they thought it was safer if we would go into Poland. So first we went to Katowice, then Czernowitz, stayed in many different places, and ended up eventually in Odessa. This journey took about three months. We traveled through Russia.
And one day -- it was still in cattle trucks, because this is how they transported their troops, partly, and as well prisoners of war and survivors from the camps. But it was, of course, quite different. We had -- in the middle of the train, we had a little stove where we could warm up things, so it was warm. We got blankets, and the doors were kept open a little bit. And each time when we stopped, after two, three, sometimes even eight hours traveling, the doors were open completely. We could jump down; we could walk around. And very often we met trains with Russian soldiers going westwards: we went eastwards and they went westward, and we exchanged news.
And the Russian soldiers were wonderful people. I know their government wasn't, but the Russians -- they all had a photo of Stalin and their family in their breast pocket, and they always showed the photos of their family and ask if we had perhaps seen them somewhere, because those people had lost as well most of their families. When the Germans advanced into Poland and Russia, they had burned down all the villages, all the small towns, and all the people were separated from their families. So they really went -- lots of the army were not really army, but they had joined the Russian army to go into Germany to be part of the first people to enter Germany. And that is true that they did rape and loot; but those were people who had lost everything, and they really went into Germany to avenge themselves. But to us, they were as good as they could be, to share whatever they had with us.
And sometimes we were -- to stay in a school, for instance. Again, we didn't have beds; we were on the floor. And once at night they called us out: there is a train going to the front and they need the potatoes to be peeled, and everybody should come out and help peel potatoes -- they wanted to cook a soup for the troop -- which we all did. And then afterwards it took out the musical instruments, their balalaikas, and they started to dance the Russian songs and danced. And then in the morning they went back into the train into Poland and Russia and were fighting, and perhaps it was their last evening they had spent.
And then on one of those stops, when we were standing outside that train and talking to other people, I saw Otto Frank again. And I introduced him -- they had known each other, but I re-introduced them on the platform in Auschwitz -- in I don't know what town: in one of the places where we had made the stop.