David P. Boder Interviews Yanusch Deutsch; August 27, 1946; Genève, Switzerland

  • David Boder: Geneva, August the 27th 1946, at the ORT School of Mechanics. The interviewee is Yanusch Deutsch, now seventeen and a half . . . rather a tall, good-looking and neat-looking young man. And we shall interview him on his experiences during the war.
  • David Boder: [In German] So, Mr. Deutsch, eh . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes?
  • David Boder: Tell me, where were you when the war start, started, and what happened to you during the war?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: When the war broke out I was in Hungary. I lived in a, with my parents in a little to—, town not far from Budapest. Sixty kilometers from Budapest.
  • David Boder: How many people were there in your family?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, my parents, they are alone.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, I was there, too.
  • David Boder: Yes. Now, what was your parents' occupation?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: My father is architect engineer.
  • David Boder: Yes. Where is your father now?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In Switzerland.
  • David Boder: In Switzerland.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And he is working as an engineer.
  • David Boder: Yes. Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And my father has an office . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And we could live calmly until 1944.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: The [unintelligible; something with "architect"?] was not so big in Hungary, so we could calmly live there.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And we heard the news from Germany and the occupied territories where the Germans were. What, what terrible things they did to the Jews. We never thought that the same could happen to us.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In '44, 20 March the Germans conquered Hungary.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: There was no object.Translator's note: He confuses the German words "Gegenstand" and "Widerstand," meaning "object" and "resistance," respectively.1
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And the Jew—, the Germans, of course, immediately took measures against the Jews.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes, Star [of David] and [inaudible].
  • David Boder: [unintelligible; possibly something in English?]
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Every country is the same. [unintelligible] what happened in Germany, only much, much faster.
  • David Boder: So, for example, what did they do? Let's forget that we already know that.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes, well, [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: How was it announced that one was supposed to wear the Stars?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Twelve days after the Germans . . .
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Yanusch Deutsch: . . . occupied Hungary,
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: . . . in the papers there appeared articles that the Jews, eh, six, I mean have to wear Magen David.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Ten centimeters large, made from yellow, yellow . . .
  • David Boder: Cloth?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Cloth.
  • David Boder: Yes, out of yellow cloth.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes, yellow cloth.
  • David Boder: And where did one get these? Were they sold, or what?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: We had to make them ourselves, and Jewish merchants, Jewish, I mean, salesmen sold it.
  • David Boder: They sold it?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: How much did they take for it?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, I don't know, twenty, thirty drachmas, well . . .
  • David Boder: Twenty, thirty drachmas. So they . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: [interrupts] Most often nothing, most often nothing at all, because they knew, after all, that they not have their businesses much longer, so why should they earn anything.
  • David Boder: Yes. Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then things proceeded quite rapidly. At first, the businessmen had to lock their businesses.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then they had to hand in cameras, radios, typewriters, [unintelligible; possibly "little treasures"?], everything.
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Yanusch Deutsch: [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: Yes. Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then we immediately had to hand in all the gold and, how does one say, "schmucksachen"?
  • David Boder: Jewelry.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Jewelry. And money that we had in the bank, that we had saved, and absolutely nothing of it we could receive.
  • David Boder: Speak [possibly: "try"?] English, don't mind the pronunciation, go on.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: [In English] . . . I'll try. But it was not only this loss against us but the German SS soldiers came every day and they asked us . . . Do you know that in every town there was a Judenrat [Jewish Council]—there were Judenräte with Judenalteste. And they came every day and they asked us food . . . [break in tape] . . . jewels, everything they liked.
  • David Boder: Who? The Judenrat?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: From the Judenrat, the SS soldiers and the Judenrat—it was the duty of the Judenrat—to get these things.
  • David Boder: Oh. The SS came to the Judenrat?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: And the Judenrat had to go to the Jews . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . to get it. Nu. All right. That's very good. Go ahead.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. And after two month and a half who had to go to the ghetto.
  • David Boder: Now how was that?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well in all town it was like that. First we had to leave . . . there were only some houses for the Jews and on the door of these houses there was—were a big gold star.
  • David Boder: Ja.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: A yellow star.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And we were living in our flat twenty-four persons. Before [unintelligible] we had four rooms and we lived there twenty-four persons.
  • David Boder: So they left you in your flat . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: But who got you the twenty-four persons? Who told you to take in the twenty-four persons?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: The SS soldiers told the Judenrat on Monday that for Friday they did had these houses—I think it was hundred and twenty houses—and they must get there . . . still Friday evening.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And it was very difficult business because we hadn't had any car and we had to take the furnitures ourselves.
  • David Boder: So you had to move out from your . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: No. Fortunately we didn't move out—then. We lived that for one week. You can imagine that..
  • David Boder: That you took in other people?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Other . . . twenty-one persons. [speaking over each other] We were twenty-four. Well you can imagine it because . . .
  • David Boder: Well . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: . . . twenty-four people . . . brought with them their furnitures and their things and the flat was crowded and we couldn't move and we had only one kitchen and there were five or six familie—, families.
  • David Boder: Yes. And how many rooms did you have?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Four big rooms.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Four.
  • David Boder: Four rooms and a kitchen.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And, for instance, my mother and I—and me—slept in the kitchen.
  • David Boder: Ja.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And they were cooking in the kitchen all day and night. We were cooking from eight o'clock until ten o'clock, other families from ten o'clock until twelve . . .
  • David Boder: Ja.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: . . . other families in the afternoon. So we lived there for one week. We knew . . . we knew that they would deport us and we had to get some food and we wanted to eat it very quickly.
  • David Boder: All right.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And, one morning . . .
  • David Boder: You said you wanted to eat your food as quick as possible because you knew that what?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, it very good things [?] and we were . . . I can say we were then happy. It was the last happy days of my life.
  • David Boder: Ja.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And one morning, suddenly, at four o'clock German soldiers came in our house and they ordered the men in the yard . . . on the yard.
  • David Boder: Ja. Only the men?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Only the men. And they told them that they would give us one hour. In one hour we must move out. We can take with us thirty kilos of baggages.
  • David Boder: Each person?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: Ja. How old were you then?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: I was then fifteen years old . . . and some months. Well, you can imagine we hadn't had much time. We had to clothe—to dress ourselves—and we take some food and some clothes and everything we knew—everything we knew it would be useful. Then they take us on the yard and they . . . how do you say in English [German phrase]?
  • David Boder: And they searched you?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: They searched us. They took the good things away from us: the chocolate, the coffee, the sugar . . . confiture [jam], the jam, and we remained with very little baggages.
  • David Boder: Ja.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then we had to remain there from six o'clock in the morning until two o'clock in the night.
  • David Boder: In the yard?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. It was [great fun?].
  • David Boder: The men alone or everybody?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Everybody—together. And you know the search was very . . . very strong . . . and we had to undress and so everywhere and they give me slaps and they kick me.
  • David Boder: Where did you have to undress?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In a room.
  • David Boder: In a separate room?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: A separate room, the men . . . separate from the women. And at two o'clock they came and they took us to the [brick?] factory.
  • David Boder: Two o'clock at night?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In the night.
  • David Boder: In the night.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: You know, in Hungary I think almost each town they take the Jews in a [brick?] factory.
  • David Boder: Why?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: I don't know. Because, you how it looks like . . .
  • David Boder: A [brick?] factory?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. We were slept on the ground. We didn't have any straw—nothing to sleep on and we hadn't food. We had even less food than in Bergen-Belsen.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And we were there . . .
  • David Boder: Oh! You said you did . . . you had some food with you?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: They took everything away [they saw?]. Almost everything. They give us food for three days we were there for more than a fortnight.
  • David Boder: They gave you food or they allowed you to have food?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. And they took away the food.
  • David Boder: Now let's have that clear. They gave you food—German food, bread and so on or they allowed you to take food . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: They allowed . . . they allowed us to take food with us and then they took away the good things—the sugar, the chocolate, the coffee, although we had bread and I don't know . . .
  • David Boder: Tell me, and the Judenrat was also deported?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Everybody. And you know that in Hungary there was some people who fought in the war and who were Jews but they had to go to the ghetto. But they had to go to the [brick?] factory and they were deported too.
  • David Boder: A-ha. Nu?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And in the [brick?] factory we had half a liter of soap in a day . . .
  • David Boder: Soup?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: . . . of soup and hundred-fifty grams of bread.
  • David Boder: Ja.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Nothing more. And it was very bad too because we hadn't any . . . any stuff or any fat. You know . . . fat. It was very bad.
  • David Boder: What month was it?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: It was . . . June.
  • David Boder: June?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: June.
  • David Boder: And what was the name of your city?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Székesfehérvár, Stuhlweissenburg
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: . . . in German.
  • David Boder: Nu.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then they took . . . one morning they said that they will take us away from our town and we must get out from the [brick?] factory and we must go to the station, the railway station. Well, the last minute there came a wire saying that twenty-six people are going to Budapest are not going to the transport but are going to Budapest and we were in this twenty-six people.
  • David Boder: Why?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: We have these Zionists.
  • David Boder: Zionists. Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Zionists. And you know that in every . . . in every country, the German . . .
  • David Boder: The Gestapo?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: . . . the Gestapo . . . now how do you say it?
  • David Boder: [clarifying in German]
  • Yanusch Deutsch: [German phrase]
  • David Boder: The Germans have taken . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: . . . they have taken. There was a business with the Germans that they can take us . . . I don't know, some Jews to Palestine. It was an Aliyah [immigration or pilgrimage to Palestine], it was . . . made by the Joint.
  • David Boder: Oh, the Germans had an arrangement that they can take to Palestine . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Ja.
  • David Boder: . . . some of the Jews. Nu.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And they have taken us to Budapest in a camp and we were there six hundred people, later on we were nine hundred there.
  • David Boder: And they told you that you would go to Palestine?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: To Palestine. And then one day they took us and they deported us who were . . . they had taken us to Bergen-Belsen. We were in a wagon seventy-nine people we couldn't sleep, we couldn't sit, we could only stand. Because there was not any place.
  • David Boder: Did you have a toilet in your car?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: No.
  • David Boder: What did you do?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: It was wagon for the cows. You know?
  • David Boder: Ja. So what did you do when you needed to go to the toilet?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, it was very bad because once a day the train stopped and we had to make it then.
  • David Boder: To go out?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: To go out.
  • David Boder: And if not . . . otherwise? Otherwise . . . ?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, otherwise . . . we had jugs there . . . we had with us jugs . . .
  • David Boder: And how would you do it? There were people around?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: We had to do it.
  • David Boder: Uh-huh And the women?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Women too.
  • David Boder: Well the women too.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: It was daytime was quite dark too because it was . . . the door was shut. You know?
  • David Boder: Ja.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: We couldn't see.
  • David Boder: Ja, so they could . . . satisfy their needs, eliminate in that way.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then. They have taken us to Vienna and from Vienna to Linz.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, in Linz it was a very strange thing because they take us . . . we arrived at Linz at seven o'clock in the morning.
  • David Boder: Ja, Linz is near the . . . Swiss Border isn't it?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Hundred fifty kilometers.
  • David Boder: Ja. Nu?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then they told us they will take us to bathe.
  • David Boder: To where?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: To bathe.
  • David Boder: Where is that? To Bathe?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: To bathe . . . baden.
  • David Boder: A-ha. Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And they took first the women.
  • David Boder: To Switzerland?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: No, it was to bathe . . . baden.
  • David Boder: To bathe . . . to take a bath.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: To take a bath. They took the women first at seven o'clock in the morning and at three o'clock in the afternoon nobody came back. We were afraid: "What did they do with the women?"
  • David Boder: Why didn't they take you or your father?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: First they said they would take the women.
  • David Boder: Oh, they took the women first?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. Then at three o'clock they came back without the women and they took us [Boder interrupts] . . . yes . . . with the women.
  • David Boder: . . . and what happened to them?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: We didn't see the women but the soldiers came back [unintelligible]. And I was very afraid that they would take us in a vernichtungslager. I wanted to escape. And I tried . . .
  • David Boder: A vernichtungslager?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: I tried to escape but I couldn't—there were a lot of soldiers.
  • David Boder: A vernichtungslager is a destruction lager?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then they took us in this camp—in this lager and . . . we saw the women.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: The women.
  • David Boder: You saw the women . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: They had to wait four or five hours because there were other people there. And they had a bath—warm water—and it was very . . . very good—very . . . [unintelligible] . . . we didn't bathe since two month—nu? And then we had a bath and at six o'clock in the afternoon we came back. The women told us that they had to go first to a big room—where there a thousand women there and they saw big boxes—yellow boxes—which was written: [Unintelligible]. Attention: [unintelligible] and that a . . . totenkop.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: I don't know how they say in English.
  • David Boder: What is [?]?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: A totenkop
  • David Boder: A skull?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: A skull right on it.
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Yanusch Deutsch: They didn't know what it is . . . they know that . . . they thought that it's against them. And then the women, they . . .
  • David Boder: [In German] [unintelligible]
  • Yanusch Deutsch: They will annihilate.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: The women. But it was only the clothes, they disinfected the clothes.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And nothing happened.
  • David Boder: Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Later, we went on and the entire journey took us ten days.
  • David Boder: Ten days. All in the same railway car?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: The same cars.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: We arrived in Bergen-Belsen. That is seventy kilometers from Hannover, is Celle, is a small city, and from there we had to walk six kilometers on foot. It is, eh, about eight hundred meters high above several beautiful forests, the environment is very beautiful.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: A lot of people saw the "[unintelligible]-Lager", not only Jews, but also prisoners of war from all [nationalities].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then we went into the camp. We got a barrack. The women got a barrack. And the men got half a barrack.
  • David Boder: And who was in the other half of the barrack?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: That was, was, we could not exactly [unintelligible]. Those were Poles, of, Polish Jews.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: [unintelligible] were with Christian papers.
  • David Boder: Oh. [somewhat surprised] Polish Jews with Christian papers.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Christian papers. But the Germans believed that they were Jews, [corrects himself] that they were Christians. But they were Jews, they told us.
  • David Boder: Yes. Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And, in one barrack there lived one thousand people.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: There were about a hundred and fifty . . .
  • David Boder: [interrupts] How many Polish Jews with Christian papers were there?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, there were about two hundred.
  • David Boder: And the Germans didn't know that . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: [interrupts] No.
  • David Boder: . . . that they were Jews?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, yes. Well, I believe there were many [several words unintelligible] in Bergen-Belsen, only I do not know exactly.
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Yanusch Deutsch: [unintelligible], maybe much better.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And, a barrack was about a hundred and fifty meters long. There were six so-called box. Six, six parts divided. And in each part there lived about a hundred and eighty, a hundred and fifty people. And beds in three stories.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Were over-about [he probably means "on top of one another"]. At night, it was very cold. It was July, but it was very, very cold. It was North. And days it was very warm. We did not have to work. This was maybe even worse, because the food was much worse than those who were work—
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Yanusch Deutsch: . . . working. And we had nothing to do all day.
  • David Boder: Yes. All day?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. We were given breakfast at seven in the morning. A black water, they said it was coffee, but it was a black, [unintelligible] black, brown water. At eleven we were given lunch. It was, I don't know, it was vegetables, or soup, it was all together. Were beets, [unintelligible], no fat/grease, only the peelings, thrown into water and boiled.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And sometimes we were given little pieces of meat.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: It was very good, these pieces of meat. We didn't know what kind of meat, eh, meat this was. Later, I read in an English newspaper that it was human flesh.
  • David Boder: [appalled] That it was human flesh?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Human flesh.
  • David Boder: . . . flesh in Belsen?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. In Bergen-Belsen. Well, in, in, London Illustrated Paper . . .
  • David Boder: The London Illustrated Paper wrote that . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . that in Belsen-Belsen [sic] human flesh . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . was fed?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: It was just like veal, so good, so small, and so . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Was very good.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And we didn't know what kind of meat it was. In Bergen-Belsen we are given veal. Yes. At four in the afternoon we got our night meal. The, we were given that black coffee again. And I also received three hundred grams of bread every day. But these three hundred grams of bread were very small. So, as small as fifty grams are here. It was heavy, it was very heavy, it was not made from wheat.
  • David Boder: From what was it made then?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: I don't know. I think in German I cannot say anymore.
  • David Boder: Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And also sometimes they gave us confiture. Per week, twenty grams of confiture per week.
  • David Boder: What kind of confiture?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Very good confiture. Confiture just as in Switzerland.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Good confiture. And sometimes we also received margarine. Twenty, thirty grams per week; that was also very good. Good butter.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: We children got milk. Our camp received milk and cacao that was given to the children. And the children under the age of six received half a liter of milk per day.
  • David Boder: Where was that? In . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: The Germans gave it.
  • David Boder: Where, where were children? Were there children in your block?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. They were together. Women and, separately, children. [corrects himself] Separately, men. And the children when, when they were small, were men, [corrects himself] when they were girls were with the women.
  • David Boder: And they brought the milk in for you?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. And from six, up to the age of six they gave half a liter per day, between six and nine years three deciliters, from nine to fourteen two deciliters of milk.
  • David Boder: Did you get any milk?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: No, I was more than fourteen years old.
  • David Boder: Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And little children got cacao-thing, that wasn't natural cacao, but was also very good, one time I tried it.
  • David Boder: Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: At seven o'clock we had to get up, get up. Hygiene was very good and very big in this camp. Well, the Germans always have been rich people, [corrects himself] clean people, haven't they? They like cleanliness. We had big show—, showers. We could shower every day. Cold water . . .
  • David Boder: [interrupts] In your block?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes, the water, of course, was very pleasant. And we got soap. And the latrines also were very good and clean. And, so at seven o'clock we had to get up. The men at six, and the women at seven. At ten, there was roll call. Every day the soldiers came to count us. If nobody had run away. And after that we had nothing to do until night. Between ten at night and seven in the morning nobody was allowed to leave the barracks. Anybody who went outside was shot. From the tower. All around were, every two hundred meters there were towers with soldiers and guns.
  • David Boder: Yes. Did you see the other Jews there? Did you [no verb] the Polish Jews . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: [interrupts] I did, we saw Jews, but we could not speak with other Jews.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Was prohibited. We saw Dutch Jews, French . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Russians, not Jews, prisoners of war. They were in bad condition, the Russian prisoners of war were.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then we saw French men and English, Americans, prisoners of war.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Once every week we had a bath, a shower, we had bath, eh, a warm bath. And the other part of this bathing facility was the crematory. Twice we saw them bring people into the crematory.
  • David Boder: Living?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Living people.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: . . . were brought. They were screaming and crying and everything.
  • David Boder: How was that? Tell. When was that? How, why did you see them? Where did they go?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Every week we were, they told us, we went bathing. The moment at which [the rest is inaudible because of loud noises from the recorder]
  • David Boder: Well, I wanted to know, again. You say that you saw the people that were brought into the crematory?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: So, will you tell me such an incident in great detail? Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, we went to, to the bathing house. Was two big rooms. In one room we had to take off our clothes. And go to, to, into the shower room. And we, we were inside, and we undressed on top [he probably means that they were undressing their upper bodies], when two cars arrived with people, Jewish people, I don't know what nationality.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: So, they were wearing their stars. I believe they were Dutch.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Were very bad condition, they could barely walk. Were older people there as well.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Older people, and, and children, too. Well, strong people I did not see at all.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Were only weak and sick people. And then . . .
  • David Boder: Only in this transport, right?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. And then the Germans threw the Jews down off the car. And beat them with truncheons. And they went into, into the other building.
  • David Boder: Yes. And you say these people were screaming?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Screaming and crying, and they probably knew what was going to happen. With this probably not. And each week we went bathing in multiple transports because there were sixteen hundred Jews there. And, and in the bathroom only two hundred people could go at a time. Well, we went at three in the afternoon, we only saw at three-thirty. And the others went later. Until nine o'clock at night nobody returned from there. Well, if nobody returns by nine o'clock, they probably are . . .
  • David Boder: Well, you know, maybe they went to a different block?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: There was no, no other exit.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: I knew these people very well.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: We knew each other well. I worked there [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: Yes. Where did you work there?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In, in the bathing house.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, I worked in the garden, but not for very long. And what more can I tell from Bergen-Belsen? There were soldiers there, so there were no newspapers and everything to be gotten in there. There were soldiers, some of them were decent. They talked to us.
  • David Boder: SS-people?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: SS-people. Were Hungarians there, for example. They weren't Nazis.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Rather, the Germans depor—, deported them from Hungary and made them soldiers. And they did not want to fight at the front, so they were, eh, made guards at the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. And they were no Nazis, they helped us. And they always told us the political situation. And we were always delighted [possibly: "we were always asking"?] that the, the, eh, in, in, eh, there was the invasion in France. On June 6, the invasion in France started and that same day we were deported from Hungary.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, it was already August, and we heard what there was, in, in France, in Hungary. And we, they brought in newspapers and cigarettes for us. We had marks, German marks, Reich marks from Hungary still. We gave them the marks . . .
  • David Boder: [interrupts] Were you allowed to keep the marks?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: We were not searched at all.
  • David Boder: Where? In the camp?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In, from, from, eh, Budapest there we had not been searched.
  • David Boder: But didn't you have to hand in everything in Budapest?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Not in Budapest, in Stuhlweissenburg
  • David Boder: But you had to hand it in, didn't you?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes, but, but this we received in Budapest in the camp.
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Or was from acquaintances.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: This, eh, this camp in Budapest was very good. We could even go out of the camp.
  • David Boder: Yes. But wait. First, you were in a camp in your city?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: Then you were . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: It was very bad. It was worse than Bergen-Belsen; for three weeks.
  • David Boder: Then you were . . .
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In Budapest I was in a camp that was good. We could go outside with a guard and, and guarded, could go inside. The food was enough and much.
  • David Boder: Go outside with what?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: With, with, eh, German soldier.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: We paid one hundred pengös, one hundred Hungarian pengös, and then we could go outside.
  • David Boder: And in Linz?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In Linz we only were one day, we were waiting.
  • David Boder: So, where did you have to hand in everything?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In, in [unintelligible; could either be "my city," or a Hungarian place name].
  • David Boder: So, how did you have it again Budapest? Oh. From acquaintances [unintelligible].
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. Do you understand it?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Is it clear?
  • David Boder: Yes. Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And they forgot about me. I don't know exactly, I think I had five hundred German marks.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: The money was not big [he may mean, "it was not much money"], but we could not do anything with it. We gave twenty, thirty marks for a newspaper and, I know not what, cigarettes.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And, is very interesting, the Jewish psychologist who [no verb] in the camp.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: [unintelligible] there were many doctors and advocates and intellectuals, many, eighty percent were intellectuals.
  • David Boder: [asks back, unintelligible]?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. In this, our transport.
  • David Boder: Yes. Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Out of Sixteen hundred people.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And when we came to Bergen-Belsen, the very first day everybody started stealing.
  • David Boder: doubtful] Stealing?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. Stealing. I would leave something there, a piece of meat or I don't know what, and a few minutes later it would not be there anymore.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And, everybody was stealing. And was, they were all arguing all day long. It was, the nerves fall apart.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And we were arguing with our friends and, and, and with everybody, the relatives, and we were cursing, all day long. And when the [unintelligible], we were one or two months in Bergen-Belsen.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Two months.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Only, well, it was not very much. Then we were given the complaint [meaning unclear] . . .
  • David Boder: Who brought that?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: One morning the German soldiers came. We had to move to a different camp. [unintelligible] we were in Dachau or to Auschwitz, another camp. And, again, we went into railway cars. We were only, only three hundred.
  • David Boder: Yes. Men and women?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Men and women.
  • David Boder: Were your parents there?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. Was with my parents. Thank God was with my parents. And there three hundred remained there. And then we went into the railway cars. Again eighty or ninety in a car, and four or five days we were in there, and we didn't know where to and, and [unintelligible]. In Karlsruhe we experienced a German bombardment, Karlsruhe was bombarded. It's a big city and a big train station.
  • David Boder: What city?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Karlsruhe.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. And then we had to go onto a meadow and everybody could leave if they wanted to. Because no guards whatsoever, we were without guards. Without . . .
  • David Boder: Without soldiers?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Without soldiers, yes. We could move away, if we wanted to. I don't know, we did not want to go away, we didn't know where to go. For us, it made no difference anymore where we would be going. That same evening we were in Basel.
  • David Boder: Yes. In, in Switzerland?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In Switzerland.
  • David Boder: How were you taken across the border?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes. The last German station is Weil. That is, was roughly one kilometer from Basel, from the German.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Still Germany. There we were inspected. They took away all papers that we had.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In case somebody had money or something like that, this was not taken away. For example, someone had a, a camera with him. This was not taken away.
  • David Boder: Yes. Why did they not take the camera away?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: That was not taken. Well, papers were taken away, yes, because they were also afraid of espionage.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And we were there five, five hours. And then we were quickly, immediately in the railway cars. Then the cars were locked. From [unintelligible] within three minutes we were in a big city. Soldiers had come, German soldiers came [unintelligible], German soldiers. Big city, many people. And we were received. And soldiers and Red Cross Sisters and . . .
  • David Boder: [interrupts] [unintelligible] Sister?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Very nice they were. And they led us into a waiting room. There were chairs. There, we saw a chair for the first time after two, after three or four months. And a lamp. And I was afraid to sit in a chair. I just wanted to sit on the earth, on the ground.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And then we received food. First soup and then lighter things, then later chocolate [several words unintelligible]. Then we slowly, slowly understood that we have come to Switzerland and that we are saved.
  • David Boder: Your entire family?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: And then, what happened in Switzerland?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In Switzerland we were in an "Auffanglager" [refugee camp] in Montreux. Was not very good. In another "Auffanglager" as well. Was for two months, for three months. And then I went to Engelberg, in an asylum. My mother was there, too. Was in an English Institute, was there for one year. In an English Institute.
  • David Boder: Are you still living in Engelberg?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: And your father?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: My father is in the Zürich area, working as an engineer.
  • David Boder: Yes. So, why can your mother not live with him?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, my, my father does not earn enough so that my mother can live there, too.
  • David Boder: I see. And in Zürich, he is with, with whom?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In a company, he works in a private company.
  • David Boder: I see. Well?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: He is a very good professional.
  • David Boder: How far is Engelbrecht [mistaking the name] from here?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Engelberg is close to the Vierwaldstättersee [Lake Lucerne].
  • David Boder: In . . . ?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Do you know where Lucerne is at?
  • David Boder: How far, eh, . . . ?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Three hundred kilometers from here.
  • David Boder: From here. Can one take the train to there?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: Are there many people there?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: It is a spa town. You know, one of the most beautiful spa towns in Switzerland. Has approximately one thousand inhabitants. But [unintelligible] not so; there are about five, six thousand spa guests.
  • David Boder: Yes. But do you live in a camp there, or . . . ?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In a, in a hotel. The [unintelligible] is good, the food is good, is content, gets some money there, pocket money. I believe fifty or thirty, forty francs per month.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And she is content there, the environment is wonderful.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And I was in the English Institute in Montreux. And later I came here to Geneva, [unintelligible] school.
  • David Boder: You are studying [mechanics?] now?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes, and at night I prepare for the maturité [similar to a high school diploma], for the [unintelligible] maturité.
  • David Boder: For what maturité?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes, well. First, for [unintelligible]. I want to [several words unintelligible; "one year"?].
  • David Boder: Where? In England?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: No, in Switzerland, in Geneva one can do that.
  • David Boder: And what do you want to do after that?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Afterwards, I want to go to university, if that is possible.
  • David Boder: What do you want to study?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Eh, mechanical engineer.
  • David Boder: Mechanical engineer. Well, then you must have fared quite well, that it remains different, quite different from how the other people have fared?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Yes.
  • David Boder: How do you explain this? Was that because you were Zionists? Was that because you were Hungarians?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: In Hungary, in Hungary we were big Zionists.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: And the Germans saved the Zionists. So one did, the Jews saw who can, who can come, in these transports. And of course they chose the Zionists. You know?
  • David Boder: I see.
  • David Boder: Were there many rich people with you or were there poor people, too?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: That differed widely. There were very easy, [corrects himself] very rich people who paid a lot so that they could come, in addition there were the Zionists.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Were a lot, but the majority were poor people, you know? We, for example, paid nothing [several words unintelligible] at all, you know?
  • David Boder: Yes. How did you pay?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: The Jewish, the Juden—, the Judenrat. The Judenrat gave it to, to the Joint and that, in turn, [unintelligible] made.
  • David Boder: The Joint did not make any money out of you, did it?
  • Yanusch Deutsch: Well, I don't know how it came about. I, the Joint paid the money but they had to pay something for it beforehand.
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes Spool 80 of Yanusch Deutsch, a Hungarian, a Hungarian Jewish child which was saved . . . eh, by special, by a special form of deportation to Belsen, presumably a Zionist, which has to be verified.
  1. Translator's note: He confuses the German words "Gegenstand" and "Widerstand," meaning "object" and "resistance," respectively.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription (German) : Christian Schmidt
  • Transcription (English) : David Palmer
  • English Translation : Christian Schmidt