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USF Libraries Exhibits

The Train to Majdanek

Rachel Nurman, Holocaust Survivor

And we are driving and riding with that train, and stopped and going back, didn’t know.  So some of the people say they’re going to Treblinka, to that place where they getting the people immediately from other camps.  They need some young people to work, like Auschwitz.  Oh, we came to Majdanek.

Majdanek, from that train.  We got off in the middle of the night and the reflectors was shining on us.  It was pitch dark on the street.  It was so scary.  I thought it was hell some place—it was hell.  And they took out some people, young, and the rest they took to another place; they took them to the gas chamber.  And the young people—they took me out, and my three girlfriends, also.  And they put us in fives and told us to walk from that camp, Majdanek.  And we’re walking and walking, and I wore this long coat, still that coat.  I had a long coat.  And he told us to sit down.  It was like 200 girls only; they choose them.  And we sit on the grass and they did—go around us, the soldiers, with the bayonets and went like that (gestures) to us.  “You sit here.”

So, I thought that this was the end already, and I took off my coat.  I was so hot from the pressure, from that scaredness, and I put the coat right near me. And we all thought that this is—this came the end for us.  It took about fifteen minutes.  They start laughing, the soldiers, the Germans.  They played a joke on us!  They scared us to death.  They told us that.  “I just played a joke on you, ’cause we need you to work.  Don’t be scared no more.”