The Testimony Of Salek Orenstein - עדותו של סלק אורנשטיין
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The people actually, the underground people, brought a couple a lorries, open
lorries with bread, particularly bread, bread and...I don't know what they had
because I was too sick, too ill and too emotional to know what they had and
they tried to distribute actually pieces of bread to the people on the way in. But
as we have not seen bread for so many weeks, and we haven't seen any food
at all, some of the stronger of us prisoners jumped off the thing, came out and
tried to run towards the place where the bread actually was situated and that
really created havoc. And they themselves, actually, the partisans themselves,
or the liberators were literally afraid themselves. We did not behave like
human beings. We behaved like wild animals….I didn't get anything at all because I could not run. The bread actually, they distributed by throwing on the train, were wrongly, of course, you know, distributed. The bread should have been cut, but they threw complete loaves of bread. And very difficult actually - lips were dry and gums were sore and we couldn't bite into it. The only bit of bread I remember I saw on the floor of the wagon was somebody who got hold of it, has already had some of it and he dropped it by accident. I could not consume it. I couldn't...I couldn't even pick it up with my hand to bring it to my mouth. I was too weak to deal with a piece of bread in order to consume it. …And we were taken off the train according to the conditions we were. I could not move. I could not descend from the train. Quite frankly, the only thought came to me most probably they would leave me here as dead. The only thing it appeared
to my mind which I repeated so often is "Shma Yisrael, hashem elokeinu,
hashem echad". Do I say it now or do I have to wait when I won't be able to
say it? The only thing I remember - four of the young ladies came on the train,
sort of pushed me towards the door on a blanket, they put me on a blanket
and pulled the blanket across that, and the four of them carried me. I think one
could have lifted me up - I had no weight left behind - but four of them, those
were the instructions. I don't know how many of us, actually, arrived in
Theresiendstadt. I was told later on that out of the whole transport, several
thousand, there were only about six hundred or seven hundred survivors. How
many of these survivors eventually remained alive I don't know.
…First thing I encountered actually being there was human kindness for the first
time. I was absolutely dazed. I didn't know what to make out of it. Is this after
the war? Is this during the war? Have we been partially liberated? Wholly
liberated? What's going to happen? My mind started to work about three, four
days later. Where am I going to go now? Back to
Skarjisko, back to Transelhau? Back to Opatow where I was born, lived with
my parents? What's going to happen? I was not in a position actually to
converse with anyone, but all that came through my mind, not being able to
read, not being able to talk, not do anything at all. It was a question of just
lying and imagining and thinking out things….
…The week in Theresiendstadt was the first, of course, sign of my recovery,
but mentally I was tortured and tormented by the prospects of my future.
Although I could not express myself fully, but in my mind I was fully conscious
of the disasters which had taken place. No family, no home, no country, no
language, no education, no job and no future at all.
From the testimony of Salek Orenstein, Yad Vashem Archives 0.3-9520
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