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USF Libraries Exhibits

The Liberation of Linz

Salomon Pila, Holocaust survivor

Yeah. I was lucky I was alive, because, you know, March, and May then I was liberated, May 5, with the Americans. The people come—I was in Linz. You know, they wake us up early in the morning, they said the Russians are close, so they want to save us. And then we went to forest, you know. At three o’clock in the morning they wake us up. They told us the Russians was there, the Americans were there, that we got to go away from where there were. They took us in the forest. Because that was in that camp—I think it was about 20,000 people, and then left over was only about 1300, 1100, something like that that was left over from us.

Yeah, there’s 1,000 left over. And then the Russians, they was—Russian prisoners; they was in that camp too. And the Russian was the first lines—there was, you know, about 1,000 people, and the Russians were the first ones walking. The Russian was smarter. They sat one to the next row, was ten guys in a row, and the Russians said, “If you come to the forest, don’t go.” One told the other one, “Don’t go in there.” And the forest was (inaudible). When you come to the forest you always stop. And then we saw, there was—that time it was about eight o’clock in the morning, because four o’clock we was walking for about five hours or something like that.

And then we was waiting there, waiting and waiting, and then we saw that all of the Nazis, they left. And the old Wehrmacht—there was two different kinds, Nazis and Wehrmacht. The old guys with the guns, they watched us. And then we stayed, we stayed; it was about eleven o’clock, 11:15, that time of day. I didn’t know, just they said that it was time. And we supposed to get the soup and they don’t give us any more soup because the Americans—the plane came right down, right out of the woods. And they didn’t bomb, they don’t bomb. We figured it’s going to be something, we going to be liberated. And then we saw right away from Mauthausen, because Mauthausen where we was in the forest it was only seven kilometers, but they want us undermined. There want us killed. And then they come pull a few from the camp, from Mauthausen. There was kapos, you know, and a few Americans that was right there, and then they said, “You’re all free, just don’t do nothing. Don’t do nothing.”

Then the trucks, the American trucks, come and these soldiers, they start throw to us chocolates and bread, and everybody can throw. They throw to us. That was up there—there was a warehouse, there was a stripes thing, and then they said, “Whoever wants a striped suit, they should go up there and get one.” That’s what we did. And then we get the soup, we get ladles of soup, and we eat it up, and then they said, “Well, we go take you, we walk back to the camp.” They don’t take you with trucks. We go back to camp and they watched us, they watched us, nothing happened. And then was over, then we were in the camp. They said that we got to be there for twenty-four hours, we can nothing do—seventy-two hours, seventy-two. We can nothing do. Don’t go out because it’s still—the war is not over, it’s not done. Just here there was some American soldiers was there to—but they watched us.