David P. Boder Interviews Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski; August 31, 1946; Tradate, Italy

var english_translation = { interview: [ David Boder

[In English] Spool 95. 21, between Como and Milano, on August 31st, 1946. This is Mrs. Nechamah Epstein, 23 [years old], a nice looking..a neat looking woman already in the sixth or so month of pregnancy--very cheerful, very proud of it. And she lives here with her husband in a co-operative camp, a co-operative group, in a castle near Como which is being maintained by the Hachshara under the auspices of the American Joint Distribution Committee and, apparently, UNRRA.

David Boder

[In German] And so, Mrs. Epstein.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[words not clear]

David Boder

[Talk] here, in this direction. You understand?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes.

David Boder

Yes. Approximately, get it? Talk in a manner that you notice at times that the [indicator] light goes on. That means that you are talking loud enough. You understand?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Aha. When the light goes on...

David Boder

Like now. You see. And so, Mrs. Epstein, would you tell me please where you were when the war began and what happened to you then?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I can begin?

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It has started for me with the Warsaw Ghetto.

David Boder

Yes. And so where were you when the war began?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Warsaw, in the Ghetto.

David Boder

When the war began?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

When it started? No, no, there was no Ghetto yet in Warsaw.

David Boder

You were in Warsaw?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Warsaw.

David Boder

With whom did you live? Who were your family?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Family? With a father, with a mother, with four brothers, with three sisters.

David Boder

Four brothers and three sisters.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Three sisters and father and mother, two brothers-in-law, two sisters-in-law, the brothers' children, the sisters' children...

David Boder

But, yes...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I have remained all alone.

David Boder

What? And where are all the others?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I will tell you where they went to.

David Boder

Yes, but you know about them?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes. I know exactly.

David Boder

They are...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Two brothers I saw being shot before my eyes.

David Boder

Hm. And?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And the brother's child with my mommie and another small brother went with me to Treblinka.

David Boder

Aha. You were in Treblinka.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I jumped out of the train.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Not having been to Treblinka...if I had been to Treblinka I would not have lived.

David Boder

All right.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

My small brother...

David Boder

And so let us begin at the beginning. You were in Warsaw. Tell me about [it] when the Germans entered. That is seven years ago [?].

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The Germans entered...

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There were in Warsaw..yet before the Germans entered there had arrived very many Jews. There had been bombings.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

People were killed under the ruins. Very many were lost.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And there was a severe hunger.

David Boder

Where...?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Still before the arrival of the Germans.

David Boder

Aha. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

People had....We were not sure of the minute. There were severe air-raids [for] four weeks' time. There had fallen very many people, children, everything. It was not possible to walk in the streets. Then, when there was the armistice...

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...the Germans entered. It was Saturday morning. The moment they entered they said they will distribute bread for the people.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I myself had gone out. There reigned a great hunger among us. My brother's child was two years old then. It was without a mother. The mother had died.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I myself went out to the square. I saw the Germans are arriving. I also wanted to get a piece of bread for the children. So at that instant there a Christian was standing, and he said that I am a Jew. So I was immediately chased away.

David Boder

A Pole?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

A Pole. [Repeats in Polish] A Pole. So I was immediately chased away. So I went farther. There arrived peasants with potatoes.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So I went...For five Zlotys one could buy there potatoes. I went over to buy potatoes. I already had the potatoes in the sack. I was very happy.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So again someone arrived and said this is a Jew. So the Germans came over and grabbed me, and he grabbed me. He spilled the potatoes, gave [me] a few kicks and a few slaps, and threw [me] aside.

David Boder

How old were you then?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I was then about [?] seventeen years old.

David Boder

Aha. What did your father do for a living?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The father was a tailor.

David Boder

All right. He was a tailor. All right. Did he earn enough for such a large family?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No, he did not earn [enough]. The children also helped. There were four grown-up children.

David Boder

The children also worked?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We had [enough] to eat, but no great luxuries.

David Boder

Aha. Nu? Where did you live in Warsaw?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I lived on Nowolipka 18.

David Boder

On Nowolipka.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes.

David Boder

Yes. Nu, and so...well, you came home. Did you bring anything to eat? [Words not clear.]

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I brought home nothing, because I was not given anything. Afterwards in Warsaw was it very bad. For a time we lived peacefully. Later the Ghettos began. Then began the hunger death.

David Boder

Nu, and so would you tell me what happened until the Ghetto.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Until the Ghetto?

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I can tell you everything. Into here [the mocrophone]?

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

When the Ghettoes began, among us began a great fight of hunger.

David Boder

Of what?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Of hunger.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We began selling everything, the jewelry.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We finished at the...at the last, at the featherbed [eiderdown].

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And with that...

David Boder

Who bought it?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

People who were smuggling. They had. They were earning. Christians bought it.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And then we could already see that it was very bad. We had nothing to sell any more. Eight people were living on a kilo of beets [enunciation not clear] a day.

David Boder

A kilo of what?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Beets.

David Boder

What is that?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Red beets.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Eight people lived [on it] a day.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

With water. And every day, day by day, there remained less strength. We did not have anymore strength to walk. My brother's four year old child did not have anything to eat. He was begging for a small baked potato. There was none to give him.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And this child was crying terribly. Why is that? Other children have [something] to eat and this child does not.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And thus it lasted a year's time. Until....The first burned offering in my home was my father who, talking and walking, said he is fading from hunger, and died. My father was sixty years old.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

When my father died, there began among us a still greater hunger. A kilo of bread cost twenty Zlotys.

David Boder

That was not in the Ghetto yet.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was already in the Ghetto.

David Boder

Oh, wait a moment. You did not tell me when you went over into the Ghetto.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Into the Ghetto. The Ghetto began...I don't remember the date exactly.

David Boder

[Words not clear. A gap, apparently some difficulty with the equipment.]

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I do not remember the exact date.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The date I do not remember exactly. The Ghetto began, I believe, in the year '41.

David Boder

Yes, nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And...

David Boder

When did you go over into the Ghetto? Or did you live there where...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No.

David Boder

...the Ghetto was made?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Then I went over to the Tapierzynska 10, moved over there.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There was already...there was too much rent. We could not afford it. We moved to smaller quarters.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We lived on Tapierzynska 10. There in that house died hundreds of people and children from hunger.

David Boder

Did Tapierzynsk 10 belong to the Ghetto?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, yes. The Ghetto consisted of many streets.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Tapierzynska 10 was inside the Ghetto.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So I was on Tapierzynska 10. There I lived without....Every day there were other dead, small children, bigger children, older people. All died of a hunger death.

David Boder

What was done with the dead?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The dead were taken...if one fell on the street.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

... a paper was taken. He was covered. A stone was put on top, and thus he lay until....There was not enough time to collect the dead.

David Boder

Why the stone?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There were many dead. For the paper not to fly away.

David Boder

Oh, a small stone.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And than people drove around with small carts. There were no [funeral] coaches any more, nothing. People drove around with small carts, collected the dead, loaded them up, took them to the cemetery, and buried them -- women, men, children, everybody in one grave.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Later....I will tell you short and sharp [to the point]. Later...I suffered very great hunger already after my father's death. I had remained with my mother, with a brother...two brothers I had still, a big one and a small one. A sister of mine was living on Nowolipka 78 with a husband of whom I know nothing, what has become of them, because I left and she remained. I was deported together with the mommie and with the child, with a small brother.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And we...at first we were....It had broken out, the first [in Polish: wysiedlenie] deportation [used a Polish word] that was in the year '42...

David Boder

The first what?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The first deportation.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

That was in the year '42.

David Boder

Wysielenie [deportation in Polish], you said?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, wysiedlenie.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was the first deportation. It happened in the year '42. In the morning...I do not remember...It was winter.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I do not remember the exact month. In the beginning of winter. There came down a whole...a few thousand Germans had come down, with weapons, with machine guns, with cannons and they began to....They made a blockade. They surrounded from one end of the street to the other end of the street.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They began to chase the people out of the houses.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And they began....It was terrible. Many ran into the gates. They saw small children. They grabbed them by the legs and knocked them against the walls [enunciation not clear].

David Boder

The Germans?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The Germans. The SS men. Grabed...

David Boder

Knocked against what?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Against the walls.

David Boder

Oh, the walls. Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Against the walls. Then they took...They saw...The mothers saw what is being done to their children. They threw themselves out of windows.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Then we were....They went into a hospital, a Jewish hospital. There was a hospital on the corner of Niska. And they began taking out all the sick that were there. So the sick...

David Boder

Did you see it yourself?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes. I was going there from the Tapierzynska. I was being led to the Unschlag [distribution depot].

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So they....The sick began jumping out the windows. So they ran on the roofs with machine guns and shot down at the sick. And all were shot. And we were led away to the distribution depot. It was on the corner of Niska and Dzika. There I was the whole night. That night was a terrible one.

David Boder

On the square?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No, inside. It was called the Umschlagplatz.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There...

David Boder

What sort of a building was it?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was a former school.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

A school was there at one time.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And when the hospital....There was a Czysta [Street] Hospital in Warsaw [?] It was transferred. Here was the hospital...

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...across the street.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And afterwards there was a school [synagogue?]. Then a place [depot]. Was made there, and the Jews of the Ghetto were all concentrated there. They were led in there, and there they were a night, two nights. They led a railroad siding to the street, and in trains [they were] transported to Treblinka.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The night was very terrible one.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

At night Germans came in, threw han grenades [a short defect in the wire; possibly a few words missing]. At the people...

David Boder

Where did they throw the grenades?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Into...into the school [synagogue?].

David Boder

Why?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Because Jews were there. There came in bandits, Germans, and threw in hand grenades. There were loud screams. We had no place to go out. One lay on top of the other. We had to...eh...relieve ourselves there on the spot.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was a frightful moment [experience] to live through that night.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And there came in...all of a sudden a German comes in. He goes over to a fifteen year old boy and says to him if he wants to live he must eat a candle.

David Boder

What?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

A candle. A candle.

David Boder

Oh. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And the boy began to cry how can he do it. So he takes out his revolver and says, 'If you do not eat it up I will shoot you.'

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And the boy began eating, and he vomited, but he did eat it up.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And he left.

David Boder

Who brought it in?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was brought in by the German.

David Boder

By the German?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And he told him to eat the candle. And he could not, but he had to. He was afraid. He wanted to live.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

He ate up the candle. The night had passed, very frightful, with much deadly fear. In the morning they began to chase us out. 'Alle aus.' We should go out.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We went out. Already RR-cars had been prepared. All were chased into RR-cars.

David Boder

that synagogue was near the station.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes..not to the station. Railroad tracks had been laid on the street.

David Boder

On the street railroad tracks?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

On the street railroad tracks had been laid.

David Boder

To the station?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No it was not the station. It was about two kilometers away from the station.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And they began to arrange in rows of five mothers with children, men, everybody together. And whoever could not...there were about thirty feet to walk out of there...

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Whoever could not walk straight, he was immediately shot on the spot.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

He said to walk in rows of five. We got into the RR-cars. Two hundred persons were packed into one RR-car. Riding in these wagons everyone saw death before the eyes at any instance. We lay one on top of the other. One pinched pieces from another. We were tearing pieces.

David Boder

Why?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Because everybody wanted to catch...to save oneself. Everybody wanted to catch air. One lay suffocating on top of another.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We could do nothing to help ourselves. And then real death began.

David Boder

In the RR-cars?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In the RR-cars. After we had traveled for four hours, it became terribly hot. But so fast did the train travel that there was nothing [to do]...faster then an express.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We began thinking, the youths, what should we do. The mothers were telling their children they should save themselves, they should jump. Maybe in spite of all they will remain alive.

David Boder

Were the doors open?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[With emphasis] Closed, everything. There was a small window with bars.

David Boder

Nu, how could one jump?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Well, I will tell you how it was.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Many had along with them files, knives, hammers. Many had along with them [such things].

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And we were in that RR-car a whole night. There had begun a great thirst. It became terribly hot. Everybody undressed nude.

David Boder

Men and women?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Men..no. What does completely naked mean? We undressed..in the shirts we went around.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Men, women, children.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There were small children who began to cry terribly, 'Water!'

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So we started banging on the doors. The Germans should give water.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We were screaming. So they began to shoot inside, from all four sides.

David Boder

On the stations?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Not on the sta--...while traveling. They were sitting on the roofs.

David Boder

While traveling?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Germans were sitting on the roofs.

David Boder

Oh.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

On the roofs by the...where one steps down, on the steps, German were sitting.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And they began to shoot inside. When they began to shoot inside, very many pople fell [were killed]. I was sitting and looking how one gets [hit by] a bullet, another one gets [hit by] a bullet. I, too, expected to get hit in a moment.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I saved myself by hiding under the dead. I lay down underneath the dead. The dead lay on top of me. The blood of the killed was flowing over me.

David Boder

The what?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Blood.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I was completely bespattered with blood.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There lay a little girl of four years. She was calling to me, 'Give me a little bit of water. Save me.' And I could do nothing. Mothers were giving the children urine to drink. You know what urine is?

David Boder

Is it really true?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[Screaming] I saw it. I did it myself, but I could not drink it. I could not stand it any more. The lips were burned from thirst.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I thought this is it, I am going to die.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So I saw that the mother is doing it, and the child said, 'Mama, but it is bitter. I cannot drink it.'

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So she said, 'Drink, drink.' And the child did not want to drink it, because it was bitter. And I myself imitated it, but I was not able to drink it, and I did not drink it. But what then? There were girders inside the RR-cars.

David Boder

What?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Girder, iron girders.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

From the heat, perspiration [precipitation] was pouring from the girders. This we..one lifted the other one up. It was high up, and we licked [the moisture] off the grinders.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We traveled this way the whole night, and we were approaching ever closer to the real death. And so my mommie began to cry very much.

David Boder

[As if a delayed comprehension] You were licking the perspiration from the cold...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, from the cold girders.

David Boder

Yes, from the...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There was nothing to drink.

David Boder

From the rods, from the iron rods of the bars?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was very stifling. There was that little window, a tiny one, so we wanted to open it. Every time we opened it, they would shoot in, not minding that...

David Boder

What month was it in?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was...I do not remember exactly. I remember it was winter.

David Boder

Winter.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Winter, yes.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And when we wanted to open it...Not minding that they were shooting, we did open it. There were small children, and they were all suffocating.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We could not stand it any more.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And thus I rode all night. Early in the morning -- it was about two in the morning, maybe three, just before dawn -- my mommie began crying very much. I was with my small brother eithteen years old.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So the mommie began to cry very much. She begged us to save ourselves. The boys took a saw and cut out...it was locked with a chain from the other side, a whole....

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And we took the bars off the windows.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And we started to jump. No. What does to jump mean? One pushed out the other one.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And while jumping.

David Boder

Aha. Did the Germans let them?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They did not let them. They immediately started shooting on the spot. Many were shot. Out of a hundred people there could remain ten.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

My little brother jumped out five minutes before me, and he was shot. When I jumped out I fell into a ditch.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I remained lying completely unconscious. And the RR-car...the train passed.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I came to. It was at night, around three in the morning, so I...

David Boder

And your mother herself did not jump.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No. The mother could not. With the small child she could not jump. And a woman of sixty, she could not jump.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I...

David Boder

How big was the hole through which you had jumped?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was perhaps...

David Boder

No, no [words not clear].

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

High up...

David Boder

Oh, the hole that was there was enlarged?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Right next to the roof. Yes, it was right next to the roof.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We jumped out, and I remained completely unconscious. I came to. I got back my thoughts, so I went to look for my brother. I knew that he had jumped at the same time I did.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In the meantime there arrived some sort of a Polish militia man...

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...who walks at the stations at night...

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...and told me that I should quickly run away from here, because the Gestapo is all around here. I will be shot here. I should run away. He told me that I had jumped near Radzin and Lukow. There was the road leading to Radzin, a road to Lukow.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So he told me to go to the Miedzyrzec Ghetto. There is a ghetto with Jews.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Warsaw they had already begun....He said, 'There it is not good. The Jews are being deported.' I should go to Miedzyrzec. I began to walk on foot toward Miedzyrzec.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

To Miedzyrzec. When I jumped out I met a little girl. She had also jumped. She had her entire leg completely torn open. While jumping she had caught on a piece of iron, and she tore open her leg.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And the two of us started to walk. Yes, after getting up I went to look for my brother. I had gone about ten feet. He lay shot. He had a bullet here in the heart [?].

David Boder

In the heart [?]?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, here in the heart [?] I could not move away from him, but that Christian said that I should go away quickly. [Pause.] The struggle for life was stronger than anything. I left my brother on the road. I do not know what happened to his bones. And I went on. I had walked with that little girl for about three hours. Dark it was. Through woods, through fields we crawled, crawled, crawled. [The word crawled is repeated by an echo of the large room of the castle where the interview took place, and is clearly heard on the wire.] Suddenly Polish police arrived. He asked us where we are going. He wanted to arrest us. He wanted to had us over to the German authorities. We started to cry bitterly. That child cried bitterly. She begged [that] they should let us go on. It was at night. I do not know what happened -- they said...

David Boder

That little girl was a stranger?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

A strange little girl. I don't know at all that little girl.

David Boder

Yes. How old was she?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

She was about fourteen years old.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And the little girl with the bleeding leg...for terror she did not feel the pain.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

After having walked thus for perhaps ten kilometers, the two of us remained sitting where the road leads [?] into a forest. And we could not walk any more. The child said that she cannot walk any more. The leg hurts her. We don't know what will be. In the meantime I had heard gentiles talking, that Germans prowl on this road looking for Jews. And I saw it is bad. With the child I cannot walk. So I took the child. I did not know what to do. I carried her perhaps...perhaps, who knows, a kilometer or two. I myself did not have any strength. I was barefoot. My shoes had remained in the RR-car, because I had undressed. I did not have the time to put anything on. I was completely naked and barefoot. And that child remained in the field. And I went away. I could not help any more at all. The child had fallen, and I could not do anything to help any more. I went away. [A pause.]

David Boder

Go on.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

After I had walked thus for about twenty kilometers, I came to...

David Boder

[Adjusting the equipment.] Go on.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I had walked thus for about twenty kilometers. I do not know myself how many kilometers I had covered. I came to the Miedzyrzec Ghetto [Meseritz is German for Miedzyrzec].

David Boder

Miedyrzec. [Both pronounce it Medrich. Not to be confused with Meseritz in Poznan.]

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Miedzyrzec.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Arriving in Miedyrzec, I went in [to the Ghetto]. It was a day after a large deportation. So I went in.

David Boder

It was [in German] a deportation?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[In German] A deportation.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Entering the Ghetto, it became faint before my eyes. It was at night. I did not have anywhere to go. When arriving there, I regretted very much that I had jumped off the train, because at every step, wherever I went, shot people were lying. Broken windows, all stores looted. Terrible things happened there.

David Boder

What was the name of that town?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Miedzyrzec [pronounced Mezrich].

David Boder

Miedzyrzec.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The Miedzyrzec Ghetto.

David Boder

Yes. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In that Ghetto I lived eight months...

David Boder

Did you...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...in deathly fear.

David Boder

...register with the..

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There was a Jewish community council. I registered with the Jewish Community Council, and I sat. It was not worth it. Every four weeks there were new deportations. From the small towns all around and around Jews were brought in there. And there was a sort of an assembly depot for Jews. And from there all the Jews were being sent to Treblinka. There I lived through three terrible deportations. During the first deportation I hid in an open attic and lay there for four weeks. I lived just on raw beets.

David Boder

What?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I did not have anything to drink. The first snow fell then, so I made a hole in the roof and pulled in with the hand a little snow. And this I licked. And this I lived on.

David Boder

Were you there alone?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No. We were about...about...there were about twenty people there. There was a father with a mother with child. There were some other...

David Boder

In the attic.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, in the attic.

David Boder

[A few words not clear; some trouble with the equipment for a few seconds.] Nu, and so you were there on the roof [attic] in the Ghetto. With how many people?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There were about twenty people.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We had nothing to eat. Thus we lived four weeks. We found raw peas [which] we ate. I had pared the beets, and afterwards I gathered the rinds of the beets, because I had nothing more to eat. And thus I nourished myself for four weeks, till there had passes a [in Polish] deportation...[in German;] a deportation. It lasted four weeks, that deportation. After the deportation we came down from the attic. At that time a lot of Jews had also been shot. Coming down from the attic, it was a terrible thing to see. We had to...we were taken to work removing the dead.

David Boder

Who were the SS. Germans and who else? [This is a reference to the Polish and Ukranian element in the SS.]

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Germans.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Only Germans. Just Germans.

David Boder

Nu, go on.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There were a few Ukranians, too, but not many.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Ukranians.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

From the Ukraine. They were serving in the German army.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I went down. We all went down. It was worse yet than in the attic. We saw numerous dead. All the streets were splashed with blood. In every ditch Jewish blood had been poured. We went down. We had nothing to eat. We started looking for something to eat so we...

David Boder

Was there no Council, no Community Council...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

At that time tha chairman had been taken away. The chairman had been shot. He was taken out first. He was the first.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

A very fine man. He was taken out the first with the wife, with the child. They were told to turn around, and they were shot. There were Jewish police, too.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Jewish policeman. So they were shot little by little. During each deportation ten, twenty were taken and also transported into the RR-cars. And they were shot, sent away. Those who escaped were shot.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In any case, they were all killed. So there was nobody to turn do. Everybody was hidden in the cellar. Everybody was afraid to go out. Many were lying [in hiding] there still a few weeks after the deportation. They did not know that it is already 'free' that one can be [is let alone] already. When we came down it was sort of peaceful for about two months. For two months time we lived on that which the Jewish Council gave to those who were strangers [Jews who were again assembled from other towns waiting for deportation].

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They gave them every day a kilo of potatoes and a piece of bread. The food was not important [?], because it was...every day we lived in great fear. People walking in the streets were shot at.

David Boder

Did you have relatives there? Did you know anyone?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Nobody. I was all alone. [Excited] Without relatives, without anybody.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Mine had all gone away. I had remained all alone. I had to support myself. By what did I support myself? I carried water.

David Boder

For whom?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

For the Jews who lived there I carried water. And for that I received a few groschen. And that is how I supported myself.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I lived in such a...a large hall. There was once a circus.

David Boder

A circus.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes. There lived all the deportees.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Short and sharp [to the point], it dragged on till winter, till [in Polish] the Birth of Christ.

David Boder

That is when? [In Russian] Christmas?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes.

David Boder

The 24th of December. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes. Then there was a frightful night to live through. There came down drunken Gestapo [men] from Radzyn.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And...in the middle of the night we were asleep in a room. There were perhaps, who knows, thirty people altogether in that house where we were, in one room. And they entered. I was sleeping there with two little girls. These children had also escaped from the Radzin Ghetto. Two girls, little ones. One was about eight years old, and one about six years. I was sleeping with them in the room. There were other girls. In our room there were about fifteen persons. In the middle of the night we hear...there lived a woodcutter [?], so we thought that someone is chopping wood. We jump up. We hear shooting. They began shooting. We lay in great deathly fear. And they were knocking on our door. And I did not know why they could not enter through the door. I the morning I got up. I opened the door. A shot person fell into...into my room, itno the house where we were lying. When we came in [into the other rooms] there lay shot all who were living in those rooms. Two children with a father who were sleeping in bed, everything was shot. A man lay with his stomach completely torn open, his guts outside on the ground. And later Jewish police came in. The Germans had left, and we had to clean up the blood and all that. There was lying the bedding and the shot. All that we had to clean up. There were also two men who had been in a lager. At that time there were lager.. It was in Oswoboj.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And those two boys...

David Boder

It was where?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Oswoboj near Chelm. They had escaped from there, from that lager. They had been thirty people. So they were taken out one nice clear day, and they were led to...graves had been dug beforehand, and they were all led...

David Boder

Who had dug those graves?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

These people themselves had dug these graves.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And they were led down there to the graves, and they were all going to be shot. A cannon [machine gun?] was erected, and they were going to shoot them all. So these two young men had escaped. They succeeded [there follows about 40 seconds of silence on the wire]....They made a commotion and escaped.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They arrived in the Miedzyrzec Ghetto. Then that night when the Germans came it was on New Year's Eve...when the Germans came. So one received four bullets in the neck. And one received six bullets. And the one who received six bullets was in agony for about four hours. He tried to choke his other friend. He had gone completely out of his mind.

David Boder

Hm

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And he died. The underwear that they wore became completely red from the blood. In another bed lay a third friend who remained alive by hiding under the bed. The second one who had remained alive, who had received the four bullets, was in agony for two weeks. He had pus, and there was no doctor. Pus, [repeats in Polish] pus.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...in the neck.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I myself bandaged him.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The bullets were inside.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

He had pus in the neck, and he lay so long till there appeared white snakes [worms] on the neck. Snakes had appeared.

David Boder

Worms.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Worms which smelled bad. And he was pleading for death, to be shot. And so I and some other girl were there, a friend of mine. We covered the mouth and the nose so as not to smell. We took off the bandage and took off the snakes. Then it became a little easier for him. The same day, in the afternoon, he died. He died. I was there for a time in the Ghetto, and I lived through another deportation. There was a large synagogue. There all the Jews were assembled. In the synagogue it was terrible. They simply came in...if they heard a cry, they shot in. The threw grenades. They beat. They truck. They did not give anything to drink. We had to relieve ourselves on the same place where we slept. I was there a whole night. I saw it was bad. I did not want to go to death. I went on fighting against it. I went over to a window. It was on the first floor. We took two towels, I and another girl. We lowered the towels from the windows, and we crawled down and escaped down into a cellar, and there we again lived through the second [other] deportation.

David Boder

From the second floor?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

From the first floor.

David Boder

Aha, from the first...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Lowered ourselves down...

David Boder

That is really the second [floor], one flight upstairs [the story above the ground floor is considered in Europe as the first floor].

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The second [floor].

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And we lowered ourselves down and hid in a cellar. It did not last four weeks any more. It only lasted three days, and then we went out again. Again we lived [there] a few months. During the last deportation I was not able to hide any more. I was led away into a transport. It was a beautiful summer day. It was very beautiful. It was May Day, May.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We were led away in the year '43 in May. We were loaded on RR-cars. We were led through the streets exactly like we had been driven to Treblinka. They shot at those who did not walk in line. Many people fell, children. [We were] running fast. I myself received from a German Whose name was Bock...

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

That German's...I got it with a [rubber] hose over the head. I got a large bump. I did not pay attention to the pain, but I ran fast. Arriving at the [on the way to the] station, they had led us through the quarter where the gentiles were living.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We arrived at the...

David Boder

One moment. [Some whispers. Again some equipment failure for about 20 seconds.] Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We arrived at the RR-cars. We were put into the RR-cars. It was the same as [the road] to Treblinka, shooting. We had nothing to drink. We drove a day and a night. We were taken down to Majdanek. Many were saying that we were being taken to Treblinka, but the direction was toward Majdanek. We were taken off at the Majdanek lager. We were all lined up. There were many who were shot. They were taken down, those who were still alive. They were taken down on the square, and they were immediately shot to death. The mothers were put separ tely, the children separately, the men separately, the women separately, young [people] separately, old [people] separately. Everything was separated. The women, the young women, were taken to the Majdanek lager. The men were taken to another lager. The children and the mothers were led to the crematory. All were burned.

David Boder

Where [?]?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Majdanek. We never laid eyes on them again. [Oh] yes, they kept the children another two weeks. They gave them [something] to eat. They received beatings, too, those children, small children, big ones. There were many children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

David Boder

The mothers were kept with the children?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes. And then one bright and clear day they came with autos and took away all the mothers and all the children. Many mothers still tried to save themselves, but they could not. All were taken away, and to this day we do not know what happened to them. We knew for certain that they were led to the crematory.

David Boder

Where was the crematory?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The crematory was...the lager was on the first field, and the crematory was between the fifth...fourth and fifth field.

David Boder

Treblinka.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No, Majdanek.

David Boder

Majdanek, yes. And where....Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I was in Majdanek two months. I lived through many terrible things. [Words not clear.] We had nothing to eat. We were so starved. At first. We did not know yet what such a thing as a lager means. In the morning, at six in the morning, came in a German [woman], an SS women, and started to chase [us] with a large strap, beat everybody. We were lying on the beds, grieved, with great worries, thinking where the mothers were, where the fathers and the children were. We were crying. Then came in a German [woman] at six in the morning with a large strap and beat us over the head to go out to the appell. On the appell.it could happen that we would stand four, five hours.

David Boder

Why so long?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

People were being kept so long because everybody did not know yet what...what this was about. Many children of about sixteen years hid in an attic. They were afraid to come out. They thought they were going to be shot.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And for that, that they had hidden, we stood five hours as a punishment. Later nobody hid any more. They said whoever will hide himself will be shot. And so I was in Majdanek two months.

David Boder

Did you work there?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes. We were sent to do garden work. We were sent to carry the shit which....There were no toilets there, so we carried it in buckets [barrows]. We were not given [anything] to eat. They were hitting [us] over the legs. They were beating [us] over the heads. The food consisted of two hundred grams of bread a day, and a little soup [made] of water with [leaves of] nettles. This was the food. And I was there two month's time. The hunger there was so great that when a caldron of food was brought, we could not wait for it to be distributed, but we threw ourselves on the food, and that food would spill on the ground, and with the mud we ate it. After having been there two months, there began...they began to select the healthy, healthy children who are able to work. At that time they began to select. They tested the heart. Whoever had the smallest blemish on the body did not come out [any more] from there. Only six hundred women were picked out, and I was among them. This was in...this was in [in Polish] January. In Lipiec I went...

David Boder

What is Lipiec?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[In Polish] May, June, Lipiec.

David Boder

[In English] May, June, July.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes. I left for Oswiecim [Auschwitz]. I was taken away to Oswiecim. The condictions were then already a little better. Fewer were being packed into wagon [RR-car]. They were putting in already sixty to a wagon. We were taken to Oswiecim. Arriving in Oswiecim, we were led into a large hall before taking us to be bathed. All the women had their hair cut off. Many did not allow [it] to be cut till...completely hairless.

David Boder

That was the first time you had that done?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

For the first time in Oswiecim. In Majdanek I was not shorn, just in Oswiecim.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So I had my hair shorn off, and they tattooed numbers on us.

David Boder

In Oswiecim.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes.

David Boder

Which..what number do you have?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

My number is 46,886

David Boder

46,8...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

886.

David Boder

..86. And a little triangle.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, such a one.

David Boder

Yes. What is that?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Because this was a code. They had three kinds of numbers. Every hundred thousand they had a different kind.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

A-B-D...

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I was led away to Oswiecim. We had very great anguish, because we had our hair cut off. How can a women live without hair? They took us and dressed us in long pants.

David Boder

Who cut off your hair?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Our hair was cut off by women...

David Boder

Women.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

..who were working there.

David Boder

Yes. Nu? They cut it from the whole body?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Completely. On the body, here [she points], everywhere, everywhere, everything.

David Boder

Under the arms.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Everywhere. Everywhere.

David Boder

Hm. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And we were dressed in trousers and in blouses. We were terribly hungry. They put on such kerchiefs on our heads, up to here. Nothing at all could show, up to here.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Here it was tied, and thus, and we went out into the lager [?].

David Boder

That was in Oswiecim.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Oswiecim. There...

David Boder

Where is Oswiecim? Near what city is it?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Auschwitz. It is near Cracow, not far from Cracow.

David Boder

Oswiecim is Auschwitz? That is the same thing?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, Auschwitz. Yes, yes.

David Boder

Aha. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In German it is called Auschwitz, but in Polish it is Oswiecim. There I was in that Oswiecim for a tale [stretch] of about nine months.

David Boder

What did you do there?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I will tell everything.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

During the first times when I arrive, there was a frightful hunger. We went to work in a detail which was called the Death Detail. Why? This I will tell too.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We went to work, the six hundred women from Majdanek. It took a month, and there remained no more than four hundred and fifty. We died out of hunger.

David Boder

What did you do?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We worked carrying stones on barrows, large stones. To eat they did not give us. We were beaten terribly. There were German women who were also prisoners. They were imprisoned for prostitution. Women. [Words not clear.]

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They were imprisoned there. They used to beat terribly. They said that every day they must kill three, four Jews. And food she did not give.

David Boder

When must they kill three, four Jews? Every day?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Every day they must kill three, four Jews. And it was really so. They did what they meant, what they wanted.

David Boder

[In English] This concludes Spool 95 or Mrs. Nechamah Epstein, and we are going over to Spool 96. Recording in Tradate, between Milano and Como. A camp for adults who expect to be transferred to Palestine. [A peculiar phenomenon appears at least on this duplicate: the echo appears before the actual spoken word. It is for accustic reasons or for reasons of cross magentization of the turns of wire? February 26, 1956. Boder, at editorial relistening.]

Herman Barnett

[In English] Spool 96. Spool 96. Recording starts in one minute. Spool 96, recording starts in one minute. This is Herman Barnett

David Boder

Spool 96, direct continuation of 95, taken at Tradate, between Como and Milano, on August 31st, 1946. The reporting person is Mrs. Nechamah Epstein, 23 years old, with a tattoo number 46,886 and a triangle. She is 23 years old and is expecting a baby within four months, or five, and is here with her husband.

David Boder

[In German] And so that was in Oswiecim. Nu? What happened there.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Where was I? Wait.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I will remind myself where I stopped.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The work began. We carried stones on...stones in barrows. We carried sand, stones. We were building a highway -- women. The work was very hard. We got heavily beaten with rubber hoses over the legs from those German women overseers, those who also were imprisoned, prisoners.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

But they were very bad. They had the say over us.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Thus I labored for three months, until I became sick. I had gotten malaria.

David Boder

Malaria?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I went around for two weeks with a 41 degree fever centigrade; about 106 degree Fahrenheit. I was afraid to go to the sick-ward. There was such a sick-ward.

David Boder

Two weeks or two months?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

For two weeks I went around with fever.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I was afraid to go, because it was said that if one goes there one does not come back any more, one is burned there, one is taken away to the crematory.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I saw that I cannot stand it any more. The legs were buckling under me. Each day I got more and more beaten, because I did not work. I could not eat any more. Before, [when] I was very hungry, I did not have something to eat, and later I would accumulate bread from one day to the next. I could not eat it any more. I gave it away to other girls.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I already...I decided to go away to the sick-ward.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I was received in the sick-ward. I had about a 41 degree fever when I entered there. There were no medicines. I lay around for about four weeks without medecine.

David Boder

Say that again. You lay there four weeks, and ?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I lay there four weeks, and nobody came over to me. There was a [woman] doctor, also a prisoner, a Jewess.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

She was not able to help at all. She had no medicaments. None were given to her. And in this way I pulled through the crisis.

David Boder

One moment. [In English] I want to re-identify the spool. It is spool 95 [incorrect; this is spool 96], Miss Nechamah Epstein reporting, in Tradate near Como and Milan. [In German] Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I lay around in such a way for four weeks. I did not have anything to drink.

David Boder

[An interruption: the interviewer apparently pleads with people who, in spite of his many requests, continue to eavesdrop under windows and behind the door.] Are you not ashamed of yourselves. Don't you really understand... [a few words not clear. Then to Mrs. Epstein] Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I pleaded for a drink of water. They did not want to give it to me, because the water there was poisoned [contaminated]. It was rusty from the pipes. If one drank that water one became still more sick. I passed the crisis, and during that time there were three such...selections. They came to take sick [people] to the crematory. During each time I lived through much deathly fear. My whole method of saving myself was that I hid myself. Christian [women] were lying there, so I climbed over to the Christians, into their beds, and there I always had the good fortune to hide.

David Boder

Did the Christian [women] let you?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes. There was a Christian [woman], a very fine one. She would...she was also in the K.Z. She was also very sick. She was already near death, that Christian [women].

David Boder

Why was she in the K.Z. [concentration camp]?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

She was there for political causes.

David Boder

Aha. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And...she was not taken. Christians were not taken to the crematory, just Jews.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They had it much better. They received aid from the Red Cross. They received packages from home, and we nothing. We had to look on how they ate. If there was one, a kind one, she would occasionally give us, the sick, something. And that is how I was going on saving myself in the sick-ward. My sickness was very terrible to describe. Complications set in afterwards. I had many boils on the body. I had in Polish: neglected scabies.

David Boder

What is that?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[In Polish] Swierzba, [in German] scabies.

David Boder

Ja. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I had nothing with which to cure myself. At one time I lay already completely dead, that the Christian [woman] cried...they made an outcry that I am already going to die. So there came up to me a [woman] doctor, and she brought some sort of an injection, and she gave it to me.

David Boder

A Jewish [woman] doctor?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, a Jewish [woman] doctor. And she gave me that injection, and I became a little better.

David Boder

One moment. [Adjusting the microphone.] Nu? You were given an injection.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes.

David Boder

Nu, go on.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

After that injection I became a little stronger, and I got out of bed. I nursed the other sick. Much strength I did not have, but I was already able to walk around a little. Three weeks had passed. There came an order to deliver the names of all the sick, everyone who had scabies, that means, [repeats in Polish] swierzba.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Then one knew that he is for sure going to his death. And I had it, too. I was very worried, and I knew that now has come the moment that I have to go.

David Boder

Do not speak so fast. Go on. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I had much anguish. I did not sleep at night. I could not eat, because I knew that all my misery, all my suffering was for nothing, because now had come my end. Everything has come to an end. But it was not so. The same day when they had ordered to make the list of us, they came to that sick-ward where there were only typhus patients, and all were taken out, the entire sick-ward. Not one remained. It was on the night of Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement].

David Boder

What was done with them?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

All were taken, undressed, nude, wrapped in Kotzen [Polish for blankets], thrown on the...

David Boder

What are Kotzen?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In [in German] blankets.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Thrown on the trucks like sheep, shut the trucks, and driven away in the direction of the crematory. We all went and looked, so we saw how the women [on the trucks] were singing Kol Nidrei [pringipal prayer for the pay of Atonement].

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They were singing various folk songs. They were singing the Hatikvah [now Israel's national anthem]. When they said good-bye, they said, 'We are going to death, and you take revenge for us.' But we knew also that...

David Boder

Did they say good-bye to you, too?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

When they were leaving, they said good-bye. They knew they were going to death. They were still pleading to be left. They are young. There was a girl eighteen years old, and she was crying terribly. She said that she is so young, she wants to live, they should leave her, they should give her some medicine to heal her scabies. And nothing helped. They were all taken away.

David Boder

How come you were not included? You also had scabies?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I was not yet in the line.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Everything went according to the line.

David Boder

Hm. Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And next morning, it was said, will be taken...

David Boder

How many sick were taken?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Four hundred persons. An entire block.

David Boder

[Astounded] four hundred people.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes.

David Boder

...were taken in one evening and driven away to...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In one evening, and driven away to the crematories. Yes.

David Boder

Could the crematory be seen burning?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[Heatedly] Of course. When we went out at night we saw the entire sky red [from] the glow of the fire. Blood was pouring on the sky. We saw everything. We knew. When we went to the shower hall we saw the clothing, of the people who were not any more, lying there. The clothing was still there. We recognized the clothing of the people who had left and returned no more.

David Boder

Where was it seen?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In the...the shower hall where we bathed.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In the warehouses where we were issued clothing...

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

..we recognized the clothing of the people who had been taken away.

David Boder

Yes. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So that we knew. It was a hundred per cent [sure]. We saw every night the burning crematory. And the fire was so red it was gushing forth blood towards the sky. And we could not help at all. Sometimes, when we would go out at night to relieve ourselves, we saw how illuminated...how transports were brought with mothers and children. The children were calling to the mothers.

David Boder

That was in Birkenau.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Birkenau, yes.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was to Birkenau that they brought huge transports from Hungary, from Holland, from Greece, from around, from Belgium, from all over Europe.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And all that was burned in Oswiecim. The children they burned immediately, and from a certain number of people, from thousands, a hundred might be taken out, and they were brought to the lager. Women, they had their hair shorn off. The same was done to them as to us, and little by little they died out. And the rest were burned.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The next morning a German doctor appeared. I became very scared. All who were in the block became scared -- we were all sick from malaria -- because it was said that the others were taken yesterday and us they will take today.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In the meantime he came with a list, and called out my name and another twelve Jewish names, and to that another fifty Christian women.

David Boder

Oh.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And he said that we who are sick with malaria, who show a positive sickness -- because there were positive and non-positive...

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Because on me was made a...a...a...

David Boder

A Blood test?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...a blood test, and it showed that I had a positive malaria. So they told us that we were going to Majdanek, back to Majdanek.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I came from there, and back again.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I did not believe it. In the evening all of us were taken, seventy-odd people. We were put on a truck and driven to the train. Riding on the truck all of us believed that we were going to the crematory. We had thought that it will be an open truck, and we will be able to see where we are being taken to, but ultimately it turned out to be quite different. We were taken in a closed one. But we have only heard this. Driving past the guard we heard, 'Sixty-six prisoners for...seventy-odd prisoners for Majdanek.'

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

For Lublin. So we already knew that we were being taken to Majdanek.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We were put into...on the station we were led into a freight car, which is used for transporting cattle. We were all put in. Among [us] were many Folk-German women [Polish or Czech citizens claiming German descent] who had been imprisoned there in the lager...

David Boder

Because of what?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They were for prostitution.

David Boder

Yes. What color triangle did they wear?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Black. Black triangles.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And they...

David Boder

How did they behave, those women?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Very mean. Very mean. [One hears the barking of a dog on the recording.] They beat so. They hit so. One can't at all imagine.

David Boder

[Fighting] among themselves?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No. They beat us, us.

David Boder

Yes. For what reason [?]?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Us they beat. And so I will tell you an instance that happened in the RR-car when we were traveling together with them.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They took....Inside the RR-car were posted two sentries with rifles to guard [?] us.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Germans.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And they were German [women].

David Boder

Hm

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So they talked to those sentries.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And they had with them some sort...some sort of intimate relation.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They received food from them.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They would patronize them.

David Boder

Their own people.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes. They were their own. And upon coming into the RR-car they made such a little piece of a ghetto. They put us into a small part to the RR-car.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And for themselves they took the bigger part. And in our part we were squeezed one on top of another. We nearly crushed ourselves to death. En route two girls died. They were very weak. We had no food. And they were full of those scabies.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They could not stand it any more. En route..they were taken down in the middle of the night in Majdanek, and they were dead.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We arrived there, eleven Jewish children. We were taken to the first field [sector]. There were no Jews any more. Because when I was there the first time there were still thirty thousand Jew. Returning I found out that there were only three hundred women and fifty-five men.

David Boder

Jews.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Jews. And so we were taken to a Polish sick-ward. We were taken in there. We were undressed, bathed, and put into beds.

David Boder

Who did that, men or women?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Women.

David Boder

Yes. Prisoners?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Prisoners. Christians.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There were no Jews any more. The Jews were somewhere else. A few days later we found out that there were Jews here. So one Jewish child [designation of a Jew in general] sneaked away from the fifth field sector and came to us. She wanted to see the Jews who had arrived. From them we learned about a most sad misfortune.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It had happened on the third...[whispers] How does one say [in Polish] Listopad..Listopad?

David Boder

What?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The...

David Boder

The...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[Recollecting] November.

David Boder

November. Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

On the 3rd of November it was. At four in the morning there came down the entire Gestapo with many Shupos [an abbreviation for Shutzpolizei], with many SS men. They surrounded the entire Majdanek lager and called out all the people. There were twenty-three thousand people.

David Boder

Not only Jews, everybody.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

All Jews. Just the Jews.

David Boder

Aha. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Just the Jews. All the Christians remained in the blocks.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The Jews were taken out and told to form rows of five. The music played very violently and...

David Boder

Was it Jewish music?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No. Polish music. German music.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It played very violently. And the people were told to go up, from the first field to the fifth. Up.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There the crematory had been installed. Two days before, eighty men had been taken out. And they were told to dig very large pits. And nobody knew what these pits were for. One said they are trenches. Another said that they are going to hide there something. One said, 'Maybe [they are] for us.' No one knew for sure. Ultimately it turned out that those pits were for the people who had dug them themselves.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They went up in rows of fives, children, mothers, old, young, all went up to the fifth field. Coming to the graves, there stood sentries with Tommy guns and with machine guns. And they told them all to undress. Young women flung themselves at the sentries and began to plead that he should shoot them with good aim so that they should not suffer. And they would...not everyone was hit by a bullet.

David Boder

They should not be shot how?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

To shoot them celno [Polish for efficiently]. In the head...

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...not in the stomach or the leg so that they should have to suffer.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They were pleading to be shot straight in the brain.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And the sentries laughed at that and said, 'Yes, yes. For you such a death is [much] too good. You have to suffer a little.' And not everyone was hit by the bullet. And from them were separated three hundred women, those who had remained whom we had met. And these women had to clean up next morning all those who remained [lying], the shot. they were doused with gasoline and were burned.

David Boder

In the pits?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In the pits. And afterwards they had to take the clothes which everybody recognized from her mother, from her sister, from her children. They cried with bloody tears. They had to take those clothes and sort them. And everybody was thinking, 'Why did I not go together with them? Why did we remain alive?'

David Boder

How many did you say were separated?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Three hundred women.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There had remained [alive] the most beautiful, the smartest, and the youngest women. The Germans themselves said when they came to count the appell. 'We have seen already so many beautiful women, but such we have never see.' Very talented. They could do everything.

David Boder

How had they been selected?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They came to the square where they were standing, and [they] picked out the most beautiful women. The most beautiful, the youngest, the healthiest women were separated.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And fifty-five men. Those men were...

David Boder

One moment. [Adjusting the microphone.] Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Those men were prisoners of war who had gone for the Poles...when the Germans were fighting with the Poles they were drafted, and the Germans had captured them and put them into the lager.

David Boder

Were they Christians or Jews?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Jews. All Jews.

David Boder

Yes. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They were Jews from Galizia.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And these Jews had remained there, these fifty-five Jews who helped us very much, [us] the women who had returned from Auschwitz.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We were completely non-human. We looked like skeletons. And they [these Jews] put us on our feet. They helped us very much.

David Boder

What could they do?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They had...in the things [clothing] that they sorted from the dead was very much gold, very many diamonds, whole bars of gold. This they gave away [bartered]. There were Christians there.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And the Christians received food packages from home, from the Red Cross. So they gave all that [the valuables] away, and they received pieces of bread, whatever one could [get]. And with that they nourished us.

David Boder

Tell me, you were all searched. They looked and they searched, and one had to undress. How was it possible to find gold on the dead?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

When we went to work...

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...people carried with them...Jews would...On a Jew one could never find.

David Boder

Oh.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

A Jew had [it] sewn it their drawers. A Jew had [it] in the sole of the shoes. A Jew had [it] concealed in the hair. On a Jew they could never...they searched and they searched, and they did not find. [The situation appears akin to the narcotic situation in prisons.]

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

With that Jews would save themselves. They always had something on themselves.

David Boder

And on the dead they found it, too?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And after the dead, when they went...after the dead, when they went to look through the clothes, then all that was found.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And everybody...sometimes it was seven in the sleeves.

David Boder

And they did not hand it over to the Gestapo?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No. It made no difference any more. Who wanted to go to the Gestapo? We knew today we lived and tomorrow we die.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was already all the same. At that time we were not afraid of anything any more, because we knew that our turn was coming now and now we have to perish.

David Boder

Nu? And then?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[Whispers] Yes.

David Boder

Go on.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And it lasted thus...I was there with these women. Later, when I had...when we became healthier, we were transferred to the fifth field [sector], and we lived together in one block with these three hundred women.

David Boder

With the three hundred women.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, together with the three hundred women. With the men we did not have too close a contact.

David Boder

You had recovered from the scabies?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, I became cured, because these men took from the Christians salves which they received from the Red Cross, stole it from them and brought to us...

David Boder

Why did they bring you over there?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Where to?

David Boder

To Majdanek, these who had positive malaria.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Because they said...it was such a 'craze' [whim] on their part. Thirty thousand they burned and thirteen they led to life.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

That is how it was being done by them.

David Boder

Hm .

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I had the luck that I was among these thirteen, and that I had been taken out. [Often such survivors were called upon after the war to testify as to the humnitarian behavior of particular war criminals. --DPB.]

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And we could not believe it ourselves.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And we were in Majdanek also thinking any day we will be burned. There are no Jews. To the crematory we saw them bringing every day other...children, women. They were at once led in the burned, those [who] were found on Aryan papers [forged identifications as Christians].

David Boder

[Words not clear.]

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They were brought and immediately burned, from Lublin, from all over, from the entire Lublin region. Christians...

David Boder

They were not gassed?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Gassed first and then burned. If there was no gas, they-would shoot [them] and then burn. We even heard shots, too, because it was very near.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And we were there together with them, and we lived together with them. The women told us about those tragedies. It was so frightful. They cried so terribly that it was....They would just repeat, 'Are there still Jews in the world?' We thought there were no more Jews, only we few have remained. We thought that they have already exterminated all the Jews from Europe, from all Poland. And we told them there is still a lager in Auschwitz, they are still burning Jews every day. A few Jews are still [alive] in the lager, he who still has some strength to hold out somehow. He who is weak falls each day. And they asked us if we did not meet there any of their relatives. We had met none there. [Pause.]

David Boder

Nu? [Pause.]

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

After having been eight months in Majdanek, the second time, an order came: These women, the three hundred, the women survivors of the action, must go to Auschwitz. And we, the thirteen of whom had remained eleven, go someplace else, because we have been tattooed, and they [are] not. They began crying very much...

David Boder

You were what?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Tattooed...had these numbers.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Numbered. And these women...

David Boder

The tattooed women should remain, and the non-tatooed...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The non-tattooed ones should go...the non-...non-tattooed ones should go to Oswiecim.

David Boder

Yes. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And we....They were very smart women, so they began to cry very much. They said, 'We see [that] now has come already our death.' So they ran down to their [woman] superior. She came to the appell square and said, 'Why are we [they] not being taken together with them? We are the same Jews.'

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So she answered, 'You have seen too much and know too much to be able to go together with these women.' So they saw [that] now is already death. And so these women were taken away. It was on a Monday morning. The month I do not remember so well. In the year '44...

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...they were taken to Oswiecim and...while yet in Majdanek we did not know what happened to them. Two days later we were led out to Plaszow.

David Boder

To where?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

To Plaszow. Near Cracow, [to] a lager.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There were eleven women. They led them away to Plaszow. They had added yet three hundred women from Radom.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And they led all of the away to Plaszow. There [among them] were little children, too. Pregnant women were there, and they led [us] away to Plaszow. Arriving in Plaszow, they took away the small children. They took away the small children. They took away the pregnant women. There was a famous hill. They were taken to the top and undressed nude. There were no cermatories. They were shot, and afterwards we carried boards and made a fire, and they were all burned.

David Boder

You yourself carried the.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[Vehemently] Yes, I carried the boards. We carried the boards, and we saw how they shot them. If anyone had gold teeth, they pulled the teeth out.

David Boder

You saw that yourself?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Saw myself. I had afterwards still worse [experiences]. Before leaving Plaszow I had the following [experience].

David Boder

Where was that?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Plaszow.

David Boder

Plaszow.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Lager Plaszow.

David Boder

Where in Plaszow?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Plaszow is near Cracow, three kilometers from Cracow.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Three, four kilometers. That is such a lager. It was on the Jewish Cemetery. Where the cemetery was once...

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...they made a lager.

David Boder

Oh.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

On the cemtery.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We walked on the tombstones. Out of the [with the] tombstones they made [paved] streets. And there was installed a lager. There was a leader Getz, and Gruen, and there was one Shupke, a German. They handled the Jews. They were very big bandits. They shot [people] every day at first. A Jew was pushing a barrow with stones. He struggled. So he did not like the way he pushed it. He was inttantly shot, and he remained sitting on the Trage [barrows] just how he was shot. In the beginning...

David Boder

A trage is what, a little cart?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Trage are [hand] barrows.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...with stones.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Such boxes with stones.

David Boder

Yes. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

After having been there, it became a little better. All at once there arrived twenty men from Oswiecim. I was very interested in finding out what had been done with those women who had been together with us in Majdanek, these three hundred women. [When] I asked about the women from Majdanek, he told me at once. 'Those beautiful women, yes, those smart ones. Alas, they are no more.' They had all been brought to Oswiecim. They were tattooed, kept all night in a block. In the middle of the night they were all called together and led into the cermatory. They were very heroic. They broke the windows. They would not let themselves be burned. But, alas, it was of no avail. The SS were stronger than they. Some threw themselves on [attacked] the SS men. For that they were taken and thrown alive in the oven [pits].

David Boder

Where, in the oven?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Into the oven where the cermatory was burning. And the rest were gassed. and thus the three hundred women perished. We suffered very much from it. We could not stand it. We cried very much, because they wanted very much to live. They were always saying, 'We lived through such terrible moments in Majdanek, we will surely remain alive already. We stood over the open graves [and] they let us live and they let us live. Perhaps we will yet remain alive.' But alas, their drive, their hope went to naught. [Pause.]

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

After Majdanek...after...While in Plaszow, a transport was brought with small children from Krasnik. I was all alone. I had it very hard, but I remedied it a little. I went to scrub floors in the blocks. People who had [something] gave me a little piece of bread to eat. [Once] when they brought the children I took a great liking to a little girl. That little girl was from Krasnik. Her name was Chaykele Wasserman.

David Boder

How come children were brought without mothers?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The mothers had been....It was like this. They had liquidated the lager. The Russians were approaching Krasnik, so they liquidated the lager. And that child's mother had escaped, and she was shot. And that child had come alone, without a mother, to the lager. And many children...they were all without mothers, because the mothers were immediately taken away. And the children separately. And the children were...they did not have enough time to take along the mothers. They grabbed the children and ran with them. And the children were brought to Plaszow. I took that little girl. I was with that little girl for four months. That child was very dear to me. I loved it very much. That child could not go anyplace without me. I was thinking I shall live through this war. I will be very happy with such a pretty and smart little girl, because it had hurt me very much that I had lost my brother's children. And I cheered myself up a little with that child.

David Boder

You were not yet married?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No.

David Boder

No. Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And after having been there a time...

David Boder

What did the child do there all day in the lager?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The child did nothing. The child went around...on the street. It was not even called to appell. Sometimes it went to appell. and sometimes not. But they were doing it with an objective in [mind]. After a time they came and took away from us all the children, without exception. And that child was very clever. She had a very clear head on her.

David Boder

How old was she?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

She was eight years old.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

She hid in a latrine, that is, in a privy.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Lowered herself down such an open privy, and that child hid there. All the children were taken away. People came and told me to go there, Chaykale is calling me, she cannot crawl out from the hole. And I went and pulled out the child. The child stunk very badly. I took it out, washed it up, dressed [her] in other clothes, and brought it to the block. And that child...

David Boder

You have to excuse me. When a child hides in a latrine...did other people know when they went to the latrine...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No. When the appell was over [and] the children were taken away, women went to the latrine. This was a women's latrine. So the child began yelling they should call me and I should take her out.

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I was instantly called, and I pulled the child out. When I pulled her out she was overjoyed with me, and she said she was a very clever little girl. 'Now I shall already remain alive.' You see? 'Now I shall already remain alive.' But, alas, it was not so. After a time we were....The Russians were approaching Plaszow, Cracow, and we were again dragged away. I was the second time taken to Oswiecim, led away to Oswiecim. We arrived in the middle of the night.

David Boder

And the child with you?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The child I took along. What will be, will be. I kept the child with me. We came there at night. All night long the child did not sleep. She did not want to eat anything. She just kept asking me, 'Does gas Hurt?'

David Boder

What?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

If gas...when one is gassed, does it hurt?

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

If not, [then] she is not afraid. But I cried very much. I said, 'Go, you little silly one. There is a children's home. There you will be.' She says, 'Yes, a children's home! You see, there is the crematory. It burns. There they will burn me.' It was very painful for me. I could not stand it. I could not sleep. But suddenly the child fell asleep in my arms. I left the child lying on the ground and went over to some man who worked there in the shower-bath, and I pleaded with him. I lied to him. I said it was my sister's child, and he should see to help me save the child. So he said, 'You know what? Tomorrow morning you will all be undressed nude, and you will all be led before the doctor. He will make such a selection. And the child, 'he says,' you will tell to hide in the your [rags] when you will undress.' And that child was very clever. She did not even take off the shoes. She hid. And she hid in the rags. And I was waiting thus--it was in the morning--till the evening, till the child will come out. And in the evening I saw the child all dressed up.

David Boder

What?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Dressed up. She had been dressed, washed. And that child came to me. When they took away all the children...

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...the child got out from under the rags and came to me. the German doctor had left, and the child came to me.

David Boder

And who...how did she wash herself and everything?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In...in the shower-bath there were Jewish women, there where the bath was. She was washed. Clothes there were very plentiful, from the many children [who] had been burned there, thousands, hundreds of thousands of children. She had been dressed very nicely. And the child came to me with great joy. 'See,'she says,' again I have remained alive. I shall again remain alive.'

David Boder

And how...you too were left [alive]?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I bathed and was sent out. The hair was cut again. One [woman] who was big received a small dress. One who was small received a large dress, and wooden shoes. They beat badly. We were chased out. I waited. It was a huge transport of a few thousand people, so I waited till the last. Everybody had gone to the lager, to the block, and I waited for the child to come out. And I saw the child. And together with the child I left for the block.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

While being in the block, not long, a short time, three days, it was very bad. It was cold. They chased us out bare to the appell. There was nothing to eat.

David Boder

That was in Majdanek...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Birkenau.

David Boder

In Birkenau

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Birkenau it was. The second time in Birkenau.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There was nothing to eat. The cold was so cutting, one could get sick. And the child, too, had to go to appell.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The child was counted as a grown-up person, but that child had much grief. She was not numbered [tattooed, which was apparently done only to those who were expected to remain alive for some time].

David Boder

Aha.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

she had not been numbered [tattooed]. I was with the child three days. After the three days there came a doctor by the name of Hessler.

David Boder

Hessler?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Hessler.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

By the name of Hessler. And he again selected women to be sent to Germany. I was taken away. And that child cried very much. When she saw that I was being taken, she cried very much and screamed, 'You are leaving me. Who will be my mother now?' But, alas, I could not help any. I could do [arrange] nothing with the German. I went away and left the child.

David Boder

Did you ask them...they should...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I asked, so he said, 'If you want to go to the crematory, you can go with the child. And if not, then go away from the child.'

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I could accomplish nothing. I felt very bad. I cried very much. And the child was crying. And I parted from the child and left.

David Boder

Did you leave the child with someone?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The child remained with the women, with the older women.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And it was said that the deliverance is coming, the Russians are approaching, and they will not burn in the crematories any more.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was said that now it is not allowed any more. An order [to that effect] had come. I do not know. I believe it is a lie.

David Boder

And so you don't know what happened to the child.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I don't know anything [about] what happened to the child. I know only one thing: I left. The child said good-bye to me, and I was led away to Bergen-Belsen.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Arriving in Bergen-Belsen, there reigned a terrible hunger. People were dying...

David Boder

Do you remember in which month, in what year?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was in the year '44.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Winter.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The exact month I do not remember.

David Boder

Yes. That is not important.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The last month. In the year '44, in winter.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I was in Bergen-Belsen three months. The hunger was so great -- a terror. We went to the garbage heap and picked the peels from the turnips that were cooked in the kitchen. And if one chance to grab a turnip....I was very daring [?]. I did everything. I fought strongly to stay alive. So I got out through the gate, where they were shooting, and grabbed a turnip. And a minute later they shot a girl who grabbed a turnip. I ran into the block.

David Boder

Did the turnip lay outside the gate?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No. Outside the gate there was located the kitchen...

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...with...with wires so one would not be able to get near.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

So I opened the gate and go in. I risked it. I knew that the moment I grab it the bullet may hit me, but the hunger was stronger than [the fear of] death.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I went and brought such a turnip. I returned to the block. People, corpses, dead ones, assaulted me, that I should give them [some] too. I shared it with them. We rejoiced. We finished the meal and went to sleep. After having been [there] three months, a German came again, and again selected Jews. I did not know where to [turn]. But I only wanted [to go] on, on. It always seemed to me here it is no good, there it will be better. And again I traveled. They collected two hundred Hungarian women, three hundred Polish women, and we were led away to Aschersleben.

David Boder

Aschersleben?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Aschersleben. That is near Magdeburg.

David Boder

Yes. From Bergen-Belsen.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

From Bergen-Belsen to Aschersleben.

David Boder

What was there?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There was an airplane factory.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There everything had been bombed. Nothing was there. There was a lager commander, a very mean one. There were foreigners. Eh...how does one say it in [word not clear]? Captured...

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Prisoners of war...

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...were there. Foreigners. Dutch, French, Yugoslavian. And they worked there. They were free. And they helped us a lot. They would give a little piece of bread, whatever [they] could. But then, if one was caught, nothing was done to him, but the woman was taken, she had her hair cut off, and she received a good beating. And she was not supposed to do it again. We became very much afraid.

David Boder

[Word not clear.]

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

But in spite of that they would help us a lot. And they said, 'Do not worry. Now freedom is approaching. And you will be liberated. The Americans are already approaching. It will not be long, and you will be liberated.' Well, we did not believe anything. We were without hope and indifferent [?], never any [word not clear]. We could not imagine that we are to remain alive after such experiences, being in such murderous hands. But they would bring us newspapers. We read the newspapers. We saw that it is really so, that the deliverance is coming, that the Germans are in a bad way, that the Americans are approaching. We began believing [to have faith] a little. There was an...an over-...overseer, a forman, a German, a..eh...German civilian.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

He would come, and when he saw that we take such an interest in...in politics, and that we know what is going on in the world, so he said, [ironically] 'Yes, yes, you have nothing to think about. Comes the moment when all of you will have to go with uncovered breasts to be shot.' And we, alas, would go home with emittered hearts. We cried terribly. Why should we not live to see freedom? Why do we deserve it? But it was not so. For him it was death. And we, for us, indeed, came the time that we were liberated, but it still took a long time yet. It took another month. After being there for perhaps two months there came another order. There had begun strong air-raids. We ran...every night we were led into a forest to a bunker. They said we have to run away. They were afraid for themselves. They did not take us so that we should be saved, but they wanted to save themselves, and they did not want to leave us alone, because they were afraid we will escape. And they dragged us. We were working night shift. Snow was falling. Three, four times a night they called alarm, and we had to get out and run to the forest, to the trench [?] They had made such a pit, and there to hide. We suffered like that for a few weeks. The Americans began approaching. In the middle of the night they suddenly woke all of us up and called out 'Everybody out,' to get out this instant. When we went outside all around everything was in flames. Everything was burning around that little town. There passed...

David Boder

What was burning...from...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

From the bombs. From the airplanes which were bombing.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The American reconnaissance...

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...were already penetrating into the town.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There ran by such a...a...[war] prisoner, so he told us quietly, 'Children, three kilometers from here are the Americans.' But for us still there was no joy. We had to retreat from there. They dragged us on. Our women wrote on the walls...

David Boder

How many women were there?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

There were five hundred women.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Our women wrote upon the walls in English, Jewish, 'U.S.A save us. We are here on the road.'

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

'They have led us away.' We cried terribly. The help is so close, and we are again going somewhere to death.

David Boder

[In English] Hm. This concludes Spool 96. We had a intermission -- Mrs. Epstein has been working in the morning in the community kitchen and returned from the [inaudible]. We go over from Spool 96 directly to Spool 104. This is Tradate, between Milan and Como. A displaced people's camp, a kibbutzim. They are... which are planning to go to Palestine. Mrs. Epstein is expecting a baby, she is 23 years old... [End of Spool 96.]

David Boder

[In English] Castello Tradate, September the 1st, 1946. A camp located between Milano and Como in Italy. We are going over to [Spool] 104 which is a continuation of 96. Mrs. Nechamah Bernstein...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

[Correcting] Epstein.

David Boder

Nechamah Epstein. Mrs. Nechamah Epstein is reporting. We are starting the third spool for her, but there were a number of other spools in between. So we go directly from [Spool] 96 to 104.

David Boder

[In German] And so, Mrs. Epstein, you were talking about how you...in what lager was that?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Aschersleben.

David Boder

From Aschersleben they took you out when they found out that the liberation...the English or Americans? Who was it?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The Americans.

David Boder

The Americans were three miles away. Tell me, what did people...what did the woman write on the wall? Begin.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They wrote...wrote with the...'U.S.A.,' they should save [us]. 'We are going away.' And more...more we couldn't write. Everyone signed. Perhaps come an acquaintance, so he should know who had been there.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We were walking like this for two weeks.

David Boder

How, on foot?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

On foot for two weeks time.

David Boder

And where did you go?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Very terrible was the road. On the way many were shot, those who couldn't walk. We didn't get [anything] to eat. They dragged us from one village to another, from one town to another. We covered sixty, seventy kilometers a day.

David Boder

How many people were you?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Five hundred people. There had arrived on the place three hundred, two hundred...

David Boder

Only women?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Only women. Two hundred fell en route.

David Boder

What was done to them en route?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

They were shot. Those who could not walk were shot.

David Boder

Did you see it yourself?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes. I stood and looked how the lager commander took out his revolver, and [to] the one who couldn't walk he said, 'Come with me,' took aside and shot him. And we were thinking...one evening they took us down near a forest. There was nowhere to go in [for shelter]. The Germans didn't allow us to enter, not even a stable, so they led us down to a forest. We were thinking, here is already our end. Here we will all be shot. For the moment, however, it was not yet so. We were suffering terribly.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We endured all that till they dragged [us] as far as Theresienstadt. We arrived in Theresienstadt...

David Boder

All that way, from Bergen-Belsen to Theresienstadt in Czechia.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

No. From Aschersleben.

David Boder

From Aschersleben to...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

From Aschersleben to Theresienstadt.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

On foot.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

How many kilometers it was I have absolutely no idea. Everything on foot.

David Boder

How long did you march?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Two weeks.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Fourteen days we went on foot and over the...

David Boder

And what did you eat?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We ate.. while walking we picked up from the field raw potatoes, also when the German didn't see. We would be beaten. Many ate the potatoes, and many ate the peeling of the potatoes.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And on that we subsisted. We would pull out a beet. It was already not possible to endure. Two hundred people fell from hunger, and he shot them. Arriving in Theresienstadt we were led in. There was a Jewish Ghetto, Theresienstadt. That is in Czechia.

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Arriving in Theresienstadt we were completely in tatters. From the blankets we had to cover ourselves with, we made socks, we dressed ourselves. We were very dirty. We were badly treated. We were beaten. They screamed at us, 'Accursed swines! You are filthy. What sort of a people are you?'

David Boder

Hm, hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

But we were not allowed to say anything, because we were in their hands. We arrived in Theresienstadt. There were only Jews, many Jews from Germany. There were very many old women who were...mixed [intermarried], Germans and Jews. They had Jewish sons, SS men...not Jewish sons' SS men, but their sons were SS men. They were serving Hitler, and she...she was Jewish; the husband was a German. And that is the reason they remained alive. All old, grey women. And all the children with mothers had been transported to Auschwitz before, yet. And they were permitted to survive the war. Finally we arrived there. Short and sharp [to the point], we were there two months, eight weeks. We didn't received [anything] to eat. It was very little food. And the Germans prepared a large crematory. They had heard that the front is again approaching. They prepared a large crematory, but they did not have enough time to do it. One nice day they called together all the Jews, and they wanted to make an air-raid alarm so that we go down into that bunker. There came a German and betrayed [divulged] all that. He said that if he will be escorted to Switzerland, [then] this will not be carried out. He was promised [that]. The Swiss Red Cross took us over, and all of us were saved.

David Boder

Aha. What was it again? Tell me again about that German. What did he say?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

He said that if he were saved then he would betray it all. He will not allow that everybody should be finished.

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And that was done. All of us were saved.

David Boder

Where...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Theresienstadt. In the Ghetto.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Two hours before the entry of the Russians...

David Boder

Hm.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It was the Russians...

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

The Germans still drive through, the SS men with tanks, with weapons, and began to fire on...

David Boder

Yes.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

...the whole lager. They were shooting inside. All of us were hiding. We thought here already is the end. But two hours had passed. We heard the Russian tanks were here. And we didn't believe [it] ourselves. We went out, whoever was able. There were a lot of sick who couldn't go. We went out with great joy, with much crying. We had lived to see the moment of liberation. And that is how our grief had ended.

David Boder

How...tell me again what happened with that German. Was he taken to Switzerland?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

That I know nothing about. It was said...people told that he was sent away. But what happened to him, I know absolutely nothing. I only know this one thing, that all of us were saved, and we have remained alive.

David Boder

Nu? And...

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

But now there began a real death [great mortality]. People who had been starved for so many years....The Russians had opened all the German storehouses, all the German stores, and they said, 'Take whatever you want.' People who had been badly starved, they shouldn't have eaten.

David Boder

The opened [?] the stores of the Germans?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Yes, all the stores, military storerooms. Everything was opened. And the people began to eat, to eat too much, greedily. And that was harmful for them. There was a great epidemic. Hundreds of people fell a day. After the liberation, two, three, days after the liberation, there had fallen very many people. In about a month half of the lager had fallen. And nothing could be done about it until it...there were full stables, full with dead. People crawled over the dead. It stank terribly. There was raging a severe typhus. And I, too, got sick. I lay four weeks in the hospital. [See the story of Mr. Schlaefrig, vol. VII. chap. 26.]

David Boder

What did you have?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I had spotted typhus.

David Boder

Oh.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I suffered through the typhus...

David Boder

Did people have lice in Theresienstadt?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Theresienstadt we had lice too, yes. Many had lice.

David Boder

Nu?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Later on it was cleaned up. But I had also gone through the typhus. I didn't have anybody, all alone. All night I lay and cried, 'What will I do now? I have remained alone, without a home, without a father and without a mother. And now freedom. What did I survive for?' I was alive crying, but my fate [in Hebrew] had not been completely lost. I have...

David Boder

What was not lost?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

My fate was not completely lost. I...

David Boder

Hm. What does it mean, not lost?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

Lost, [that means] I still had hope.

David Boder

Yes?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I left Theresienstadt with a transport for Poland. I was...I arrived in Warsaw. In Warsaw immediately I joined, the first day, a Kibbutz-Ichud. And there I began a new life.

David Boder

Did you know about that Kibbutz before?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I belonged once to an organization but not to Kibbutz. I didn't have...for me there was no other way out. For me there had remained only one aim, I want to come to Eretz and build a Jewish Home together with all brothers and sisters. There in the Kibbutz.I married my husband.

David Boder

In Warsaw?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

In Warsaw. I married my husband, and my married name is Kozlowska.

David Boder

And from where is your husband?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

My husband was [whisper; not clear]. I can't...he was...

David Boder

What?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

From Vilno [?]

David Boder

Well, go on [?]

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

My husband had also suffered a lot. In the year '41 he got out from the German hand into Russia. And there he had endured much, much. [Whispers] I understand they had made of him a kind of spy. Maybe it is not to be talked about altogether.

David Boder

Why not [?]?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

What is the use of it?

David Boder

[Words not clear.]

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

He had also gone through a lot. About him there is also much to tell, but he is not, but he is not here, and I can't tell it.

David Boder

All right. [Words not clear.] Nu, how did you get to Italy?

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

I should tell how I came to Italy?

David Boder

[Words not clear.]

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

We smuggled...smuggled ourselves...

David Boder

Well, tell about it.

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

It won't harm?

David Boder

No. It is for us [words not clear].

Nechama Epstein-Kozlowski

And I got married, and my aim was to get closer, ever closer, to Eretz Israel. From Poland I departed for Czechia. From Czechia I went to Germany. From Germany I came to Italy. And now I find myself here, and I say again, my struggle is for one thing only, and this one thing has remained for me: To come, together with my husband, to Eretz Israel and to build a Jewish Home together with all brothers and sisters. The end.

David Boder

And so, I thank you very much.

David Boder

[In English] This concludes the interview with Miss [Mrs.] Nechamah Epstein-Kozlowski. She prefers not to talk about her husband and not to talk about the ways and means by which they came to Italy. She is now here in the home, as I said before, of the...they are living in Kibbutzim groups at Tradate. Tradate between Milano and Como. This is an Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording. September the 1st, 1946.