AuschwitzPage 1234 BirkenauPage 123 Other Plaszów
Birkenau watchtower
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"It was on a Friday night when we arrived. They kept us locked in all night. The following morning, as daylight broke, Dad looked through the little cracks in the upper right hand corner there was a little window, but you couldn't see it unless you stood on somebody's back. There was a screen over it. Dad looked through the cracks and that little window, and he was lowered. He said, "I don't like what I see." "There are tall electric wire fences," Dad said, "and rows, and rows, and rows, of long barracks." The name of the place, we later learned, was Auschwitz-Birkenau. This was inside the camp.

"To get into the camp itself, the train had to go through this huge gate. We landed at the platform. There were no buildings, like a station. Just a series of train lines, tracks. This is the famous place in Birkenau where all the victims had arrived [within the killing center].

"From there we were separated; the men one way, the women another way. Then each group was separated: the young children, the sick and the disabled, the old went one way. And I think the guideline was approximately 16 or 15 years age, and between that age and about 50 roughly. Once in a while a few slipped through on both ends. So that all those up to the age of about 16 and over 50 had to go one way, and the rest of us the other way.

"I was sent with my mother and Annuska, who was 12 years old at this time, was sent of with the young and the old and the disabled and the sick. We didn't even say goodbye to each other thinking that we would see each other at least at mealtime. We were told to march a certain way, and mother and I just did that. Soon, as we were still walking soon after we were separated from Annuska, there was this wagon, pulled by two horses, catching up from behind. The wagon was pulled by two horses. It had rubber tires and a flat top, which carried all the bundles and luggage from the train, this huge pile, and there was the driver. Much to our surprise, as it caught up with us, there was Annuska sitting on its back with her feet hanging down looking at the rows for mother and me. When she saw us, she just hopped off and joined us. Mother was very angry that she did this, because she thought that we would have to work very hard, judging by the age group, while the old people will take care of the young people, and the old people and the babies. I don't know how else one could rationalize this, except that nothing was rational in Auschwitz, nothing."
The testimony of Gloria Hollander Lyon - Czechoslovakian survivor of 7 camps including Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Beendorf and Ravensbrück. Used with kind permission of The Oral History Archives Project