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5. Concentration Camps & Forced Labor

A Romanian teenager arrives at Auschwitz

Magda Herzberger had already survived anti-Semitic persecutions and the ghetto in Romania when she was transported to Auschwitz in 1944

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"I can never forget that feeling, when the trains stopped and everything was silent, and it was just like, you know, in those moments you know something is going to happen and you don't know what exactly it is going to be.

And then, soon after, you hear the voices of the German soldiers and boom! This thing opened with force. Everything was, you know, in a shocking way, nothing was done gently.

But in the moment that things were opened, there came in the violence, like the monster of hatred and violence, is coming after us.

Then we hear the voices of the soldiers and they came in, they were really treating us brutally, pushing us, coming with the short rubber sticks, we had to go fast, if you didn't go fast down from that wagon, you got hit in the back.

And we had to leave everything inside, and then, you know, you get out of there. And I could never understand, first thing that struck us, [was] the huge flames belching from big chimneys, you know, we could see them in the distance. But it was such a strange sickening odor of burning flesh; we did not know what that is at that time.

I had no idea that those were the furnaces, because no one could imagine such a thing."

Herzberger Interview, Tape 3, Side 2
Transcript page 57 (PDF, 3.9 MB)

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