Jovan Rajs

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Own translation from Swedish, pages 152 – 155:

After another couple of days we arrived to Theresienstadt, a town that was built during the time of Austria-Hungary. It had old well-managed caserns with big chambers where there only were about fifteen bunk beds with some kind of bedside table between. There it was clean, without body louses, although a host of wall louses which were quite as unpleasant. When they were wandering about on the ceiling it happens that they fell on a sleeping persons face and started to drink their blood.

Our casern was called the Horse Head. Above the entrance it was a big horse head, which was called “lófej” on Hungarian. We boys immediately renamed the casern to “lófasz”, which means the Horse pit casern.

The food we got was rather monotonous, a sort of unsalted wheat porridge which was called Gerschli in Hungarian. You got full but the taste was disgusting. Theresienstadt was told to be a kind of quarantine, where we were going to get rid of the louses from Bergen Belsen and gain weight before we were released into the freedom. The truth was that every day transports were going to the death camps but that we did not know anything about.

On the attic of the casern there were huge amounts of abandoned, title less, empty, dusty luggage trunks made of cardboard. They belonged to people who were living in the casern before they were transferred further. The quality of the luggage trunks indicated on smaller exposure and would have been obscure for use. First I thought of taking one but to be honest I did not need one and felt discomfort when I touched it.

Auschwitz was relieved by the Russians sometime in January, nevertheless the transports of the interns continued to other extermination camps and execution grounds. It was told that soon it was going to be our turn. The rumour said it would take place the 8th of May.

But the 8th of May the Russians came. The whole day had been very quiet until we saw the Russians in fawn uniforms running back and forth, through the window. However no gunfire occurred. It was told to hide the girls underneath the beds and hide eventual watches – something the Russians lusted for. For all that, they got a hold of a girl. I did not have a clue what they were going to do with her.

The next day the Russians informed us that it was free to go to a nearby town, formerly inhabited by Sudeten Germans. We were allowed to empty their houses on clothes and everything that was left there. Unluckily I was unable to walk because of my frozen and infected toes. But most of the others took off. They were plundering for a maximum of twenty-four hours. Those who did not watch the time go shot. People came back with garments and food, and we heard that they found stews on the ovens, which the Germans left when they abruptly had to escape. Some of ours ate large amounts of the heavy leftovers and then got so sick that they died. Afterwards, the once who did not take the Russians orders too seriously got shot.

Because of the lack of transportation back to Hungary we were stayed in the camp for at least one month after the Russians´ liberation. We got a lot of potatoes, still without any salt. Sometimes people from the Red Cross gave us better food. Moreover they inquired us, washed our clothes and gave new ones. Even I got washed, registered and looked into by a girl. She was clean, well cured and well dressed, a revelation from another world. She shyly looked on my body parts where it had started to grow hair and then laughed. Apparently she thought it was very amusing. I was surprised myself, why would it grow hair there? Why did she laugh? (For the reason that I had my life’s first erection).

I walked around in Theresienstadt and plundered various gardens. Among other things there were spinach and onion. I was like an intern-rat who took everything, and again I had to keep aunt Rozsi and uncle Marci with food. At the same time new interns arrived and this time we heard the stories about Auschwitz and other extermination camps. When they had told us about what happened there, they seemed completely hysterical.

After a month uncle Marci managed to buy an entire train from the Russians. The payment was a liquor storage that he had found in the abandoned German town. The train was going to be inspected and I had to follow him, I was his batman. At the end of the train he turned around and asked me: How many carriages does the train have? I had not paid attention and did not know. He slapped me in the face. Moron! That was his last slap and then he sent me away to count the carriages. He was always annoyed when I had my mind elsewhere. I am certain that I was thinking: Go home? Where? To who? So why would I count the carriages?

Later on we were on our way, this time in more comfortable and cleaner carriages. During the trek we were sitting by the open doors, fooling around, laughing and singing “Am Jisroel chai” – yet today Israel is alive. After three days we arrived to Budapest. We got accommodated in a school. There it was a lot of people, food and a nice environment. Thereafter people were looking nonstop after relatives. We children created a sensation. It was not common that trains returned from Germany with Jewish children because most of them had gone straight to the gas chamber.