István Katona of Kartal, Hungary

ROOM 9C: REVELATION: THE UNSHUTTERED HORRORS OF WAR
 

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First-Hand Account

 

My spirit rose, when the Hungarian speaking SS --from our old camp-- came alongside me and said. "It will be all right now for you, the war will not last longer than a few days, but what will happen to me?" I did not dare to tell him, what I thought, that he deserved what he will get [or is he today a wealthy businessman in Germany?]

In the camp, it was the usual procedure, never mind that the war was close to the end. Shower, delousing, back to the same dirty uniform, march down to the so called "Russenlager" a section of the camp, which earlier housed Russian POWs, but now was the place to collect deportees to die from "natural causes". Within days the SS disappeared, and the camp was taken over by Viennese police. On the 5th of May, 1945, the Americans arrived, not believing what they saw.

In the camp, it was the usual procedure, never mind that the war was close to the end. Shower, delousing, back to the same dirty uniform, march down to the so called "Russenlager" a section of the camp, which earlier housed Russian POWs, but now was the place to collect deportees to die from "natural causes".

Within days the SS disappeared, and the camp was taken over by Viennese police. On the 5th of May, 1945, the Americans arrived, not believing what they saw.

There were rotting bodies everywhere, and for days the Americans wandered around, filming the scenes from Dante's inferno. They forced the town folk to see the camp, then to dig mass graves, where German soldiers and locals had to bury the victims with their bare hands.  

The Americans wanted to be helpful, so they gave us food. Lots of people died in the next weeks from over-eating. People who were feeble, sick, hungry, ate the --rich and plentiful food and died. Laci Kantor, who days ago had kissed me, and thanked God that he had survived, that he was free to go home to his parents, laid in our bed next morning, dead by my side.

Slowly the Americans realized the situation and erected tents for hospitals and took the sick there. Every hour a little bus arrived, picking up 12 people, who were laid out in front of our barrack, waiting for the transport to the hospital. My instinct for life gave me strength to crawl out on my own accord, and lay beside them. The hospital bus came, there were 13 people. What could they do? They took 12, and would come back for the 13th an hour later. I was among the 12. Who knows, maybe this hour made the difference between life and death. I knew I had to do it.  

I received blood and sugar transfusion and in two weeks I was up in the main camp, ready to be repatriated."

 

 

 

 





 


 

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