I was born in Kovno in 1931, the second and last son of a middle-class family. My brother and I attended the Schwabe Hebrew academy, where I managed to study from the first to the third grade. After the occupation of
In the photo: Moshe, left, and his brother – 1934.
When the war broke out in 1941, my family fled from Kovno in the direction of the Russian border, in an attempt to escape from the German occupation. The German army advanced faster than we could flee, so that we had no choice but to try to return to Kovno. All told we were on the road for two very difficult weeks, and at the end we reached the home of some friends, where we lived until we entered the ghetto.
We entered the ghetto in August 1941 along with the other Jews of Kovno, and I was confined there for about three years.
In July 1944, the Red Army was approaching Kovno, and those residents who didn't manage to escape or hide were taken to
The conditions were such that I was able to remain with my father. We reached Landsberg camp, not far from
We remained in
I must digress from the ongoing description of events here and state that if everything had continued to develop according to the incomprehensible "logic" which prevailed then, then the description, and I, would have ended here… but that is not what happened.
For some reason unknown to us to this day, and there are different hypotheses among the survivors with regard to this, we were all taken into the camp, something completely against the logic of the time, had numbers tattooed on our left arms and became a regular part of the camp inhabitants in every way. During my stay in Birkenau, from August to November, there were two selections, one at Rosh Hashanah and one at Yom Kippur. More than a few people were selected for the crematoria during these selections. Our group was the hardest hit because there were really young children in it. It is enough for me to state that out of the 129 children who went into the camp, only about thirty children remained after the selection. After passing through the selection with a lot of luck and a bit of resourcefulness, I managed to have the measles and also to survive that. You must know that in Birkenau measles could definitely have been a fatal disease, either because of our poor physical condition, or because the sick bay was frequently "evacuated". I was sent to another camp.
Buda camp was a few kilometers from Birkenau, and among other things there was an agricultural farm there. I was sent to work in the smithy, and my job was to turn the handle of the bellows and to fan the fire, which the smiths used to repair the agricultural equipment there. That winter, 1944-1945, was an extremely harsh one compared to other winters in
First of all, working in a relatively closed hut beside the fire saved me from the terrible cold outside for most of the hours of the day.
Secondly, "ownership" of the fire enabled me to roast sugar beets that people used to bring from the field for this purpose, and I received beets from them as payment. After removing the charred parts, there remained a piece the size of two fists, white, hot, soft and sweet, that I can still taste to this day.
Apparently in other places of work in the camp it was possible to obtain food above the allotted portions, and more than once I also enjoyed this situation. In January 1945 the Red Army was drawing closer to the area, and so that Heaven forbid we would not fall into its hands, we set out on foot in the direction of