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USF Libraries Exhibits

January 23, 1945 to January 26, 1945

Day 4

Early at 5 AM, it continued. As usual, without coffee. Our daily nourishment was received from snow and ice. We walked 28 kilometers. The front reached Bromberg on the 24th of January, 1945. After another 35 kilometers, we reached an abandoned large estate. The owner was an SS officer. We found ourselves a spot in a cow stall. That night we helped ourselves to milk. Our immediate task was to milk the cows. The wonderful, fresh, warm milk was delightful.

Day 5

Wednesday morning after roll call, our commandant left with the SS captain. They rode by sled, across the Danzig, back home to their empire. But they were overtaken by Russians, and were hanged from a tree near the bridge. There they received their punishment. And we received our revenge. Now we were alone, without the commandant, and without guards. What a wonderful feeling. As soon as those gentlemen of the world turned the corner, the first woman ran away. We were all senseless. Each did as they pleased.

Day 6

It was again night, and we went to sleep. But this night we slept in the master’s house, and went to bed wearing clothes and shoes. We waited for the Russians to rescue and redeem us. Unfortunately, they did not come this night.

Day 7

The night was barely over, when someone came into the house and shouted in German, “everyone out, and fast.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. The soldiers were still here, and wanted to take us to a concentration camp in Germany. One can’t explain how disappointed we were. We were led another 25 kilometers, quickly, without rest, through deep snow and freezing cold. Our nourishment, as we have already grown accustomed to, was only snow. Dead tired, that night, in Krone, a small town on the Brahe outskirts, we were taken, like the worst criminals, into a prison. The doors were locked tight behind us. Captured anew! Now, what? We couldn’t escape. The town was swarming with German soldiers and SS.

In spite of it all we were lucky, that after so many difficult days, we received a drop of coffee and even a crust of bread. If God could only send us one night’s rest. But that night, the shooting didn’t cease for one second. I had never been as strained before, not even in the camps, as by the continuous gunfire.

Day 8

Thank God this terrible night was over. But the cannon fire didn’t come to an end. It lasted until 11 AM. It was Friday, the 26th of January, 1945. As it became quiet, I kept my suspicion to myself that the Russians were near. I didn’t want to cause anyone to panic. Suddenly the door opened, and we received some gruel and a crust of dry bread. For us, it was a sumptuous meal. After about twenty minutes, the iron door was unlocked and opened again. A Pole came in and called to us, “Get yourselves together, go wherever you wish, the Russians are here, and you are free!!!”

It is unexplainable, how we could muster up the courage in just one minute, after so many many terrible years. I took my bowl of gruel, and threw it against the wall with a bang! Now I was satisfied. We ran like the insane, out of the cells, downstairs into the courtyard. We ran into the arms of the Russians, our heroes. They kissed us, and immediately brought us some food. We thanked our liberators with a warm handshake, for redeeming us from those German beasts. Our joy was so overwhelming, that we were speechless.

We couldn’t remember what it felt like to be free like this, because we were held prisoners for three years, by our wretched brothers. Now we could go wherever we wanted. Open arms welcomed us from every direction. How exhausted we were from these terrible years in the concentration camps can never be described. I could hardly walk, but I clenched my teeth, and started to scrounge for groceries. In the beginning, the freedom was very difficult. The Russians, like the Polish army, helped us poor souls, so much so, that in a very short time, we recovered out strength.

How strange it was for us. It was like a bad dream. But unfortunately it was all real. But with God’s help, our misery came to an end. This miracle occurred for us on January 26th, 1945 at 12:30. Unfortunately, too few were permitted to live and see this miracle, to be free again. And now we wait for the war to end, and find our way back home.

On October 31, 1946 we arrived in New York, USA.