Cattle Cars to Camps Hardt, Gross-rosen, and Auschwitz
4. Cattle Car Train
The illustration of the cattle car train actually represents several trips to various camps. The first trip is to Camp Hardt in April 1941, near Posnan, Poland, when Abe and about 100 other men are deported from Krosniewice Ghetto. At first Abe thinks that things are getting better, as he has his own bunk in new barracks, but he soon learns the harsh reality of life in the camps. The prisoners are fed meagerly and many are worked literally to death. They aren’t given enough coal to keep from freezing to death at night. They have to steal coal just to survive. Their lives are used for sport by the Nazis. Abe learns a valuable lesson at Camp Hardt; if he wants to survive he must always work hard and be productive for the Nazis.
In February 1942, Abe is deported, again by cattle car, to Gross-Rosen Concentration Camp, near Wroclaw, Poland. As bad as conditions were at Camp Hardt, they are much worse at Gross-Rosen. After marching from the train station, he sees the prisoners running around in Gross-Rosen, half-crazed and barefoot in the snow. Six starving men have to share their day’s ration of soup out of one bowl. There are no provisions to heat the barracks. He realizes that he can’t live long in this place. After a few days, Abe bribes his way onto a transport leaving the camp, using a pair of new shoes his father had reminded him to take with him when he escaped Kutno Ghetto.