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Birkenau Survivor Looking for Other Survivors

Birkenau Survivor Gabor Hirsch

From (Updated 2015): Gabor Hirsch, g_hirsch@gmx.ch

I was searching in the Internet for Holocaust-Auschwitz/Birkenau -Survivor related information and between many others I found yours. I am a former inmate of Auschwitz / Birkenau and my primary interest is to find other survivors who shared in one or other part my past. I was encouraged in my decision, because I was able to trace persons with the help of friends in Israel, at least one of the persons from the 51 mentioned below. I hope that some more survived the Holocaust as well as the following 52 years. I am also convinced that WWW & Internet might be a place for searching and information.

I was born in 1929 in Békéscsaba, a little town in Hungary. Shortly after the German occupation on 19. march 1944, on 11 May we were jammed about 2300 Persons in 100 houses in the neighborhood of the synagogue. In our house for three persons lived 13. In the middle of June all the Jews from Békéscsaba, as well as from the villages of the vicinity, were sent to the ghetto, a tobacco drying factory near the railway. Some of the persons mostly from the nearby villages left the ghetto on 25. June to camps in Austria, the majority were transferred on the 26. to Auschwitz/Birkenau. According a transport list, our train with 3118 persons passed Kassa (Kosice) on the 27. June. On the 29. June 1944 our Ghetto arrived to Auschwitz/Birkenau.

Both of us, my Mother as well as I passed the first selection. She was placed in the BIII Camp (known also as Mexico), I with my cousin Tibor in the BIIe or Gypsy camp in Block 11.

During my stay in Birkenau I was able to see my mother on two occasions, in both case we went to collect sod behind the woman camp. The last information concerning my Mother was, that she didn’t pass the selection in BIII Mexico camp on the 25. September and she was murdered with many other woman, some of my hometown.

I stayed quite a long time in the Block 11, were my cousin Tibor was the blockaeltester’s piple (orderly). Later I was transferred to the Block 24, where I had some function, I was a torwaechter (gatekeeper), until somebody stole my pants during the night. In the Block 24 was one of the camp selections I remember. It was around the High Holidays, as I found out later. In the Session 68 protocol of the Eichmann Trial, Josef Kleinman describes this selection on the 26. September 1944, the Day of Atonement.

We had to pass under a yardstick and all the smaller ones who didn’t pass the stick, were separated from the other and closed in two Blocks. I was in Block 23?. Either on the same day or on the next one, there was a reselection, if I remember correctly it was Dr. Epstein, a professor from Prague, who found 21 out of us still able-bodied and released us.

Some weeks later, I can’t recall the circumstances, another selection followed, I was between the ones who failed the selection and was locked in Block 13, somehow my cousin (he was “piple” in Block 11) was able to organize, that I was transferred to Block 11.

I don’t know whether he wanted to comfort me, but he told me, there will be a reselection. From here, in contrast to the earlier praxis, – when inmates were carried away during the night with trucks -, we were to march during daylight to the gas-chambers/crematorium. We had to undress. There was a final examination by some officers, 51 young boys were declared fit to work.

We were allowed to choose some clothes and dress us up. The rest, some 600, were sent before our eyes and while we dressed, to the gas-chamber. On our way back to the camp, we met the next group, from the neighbor Block 13. I remember, I saw between them an about 18 years old fellow from my home town Békéscsaba. We the 51 boys, returned into the gypsy-camp Block 25?. This was on the day of Simhat Thora, 10. October 1944, as I found out later, from the (Session 71) protocol of the Eichmann Trial.

From the BIIe camp (gypsy-camp), I was transferred, at some later time to the Lager BIIa, where we stayed until the beginning of November. The reason for our transfer to the next camp, BIId was, to make place for an incoming transport from Sered or Theresienstadt on the 3rd of November.

The gas-chambers already ceased operation at the end of October. With this transport came, some young children, as well as disabled persons into the camp, persons who a few days before had no chance to survive a selection. Later,I met three of them, a disabled youngster, as well as two brothers around 10 years, after they were transferred from the BIIa into the BIId camp, if I am correct all three came from Pressburg (Pozsony). I saw them also after the liberation.

In December, I spent one week in the Krankenrevier (hospital), it was around my birthday, during my stay in the hospital I was tattooed, my number is B-14781. Few weeks after my return to the Block 21 in BIId camp, the evacuations started. On 18. January our Block was also evacuated, I was very weak and was unable to march, so I was transferred into the BIIf hospital camp.

The Germans left the camp on 21. January 1945, they returned on 24. to evacuate the camp completly. I hide myself under the bed and stayed there until the Russians liberated us on 27. January 1945. At that time I was 15 years old and my weight was 27 kg. After a few days we were moved into the main camp of Auschwitz I, Block ?24?.

After spending another 7 month in different camps by the Soviets (Auschwitz Stammlager, Katowitz, Chernowitz and last in Slutzk near Minsk), I returned to Hungary on the 6. Sept. where I stayed until the uprising in October 1956. Than I emigrated to Switzerland.

My cousin Tibor left Birkenau in November 1944 for Braunschweig and was liberated by the US Army on 2nd May 1945 in Wobbelin. He went to Sweden to recover and returned 1 year later to Hungary. Finally he emigrated in 1956 to the USA.

I am looking for survivors, persons who have secondhand information or know sources in the Holocaust Literature about the following events:

  • selection in BIII woman-camp on 25th of September 1944 (which my Mother failed to pass).
  • selections (or reselections) around the high Holidays in the Gypsy camp
  • transport from Sered / Theresienstadt on 3. November 1944.

I was liberated in Birkenau / Auschwitz and spent some time afterwards in camps in Katowitz, Chernowitz and in Slutzk (near Minsk) USSR. (One of them was described by Primo Levi, an Italian; he describes this time in his book “Atempause”)

One of the traces I found about the selections around the High Holidays are in the book from Martin Gilbert “The Holocaust” a Jewish Tragedy”, in Gideon Haussner’s “Gerechtigkeit in Jerusalem” and in the printed protocols of the Eichmann Trial. They all refer to Josef Zalman Kleinman’s and Nachum Hoch’s statement on the Session 68 resp. Session 71 in 1961 June at the Eichmann Trial.

It is also mentioned in Session 71 (without names) that there are three other survivors (return of the 51 from the crematorium) living in Haifa and Jaffa. According the Attorney General, the whole episode is well known and documented in the Holocaust literature.

Birkenau Survivor Update: 2015

I found also some newspaper articles dealing with the 51 boys, I even met during the 70 years commemoration in Auschwitz an Israeli one of the 51 boys.

A letter from ITS (International Tracing Service) in 1998.09.01 informed me that my mother was registered on 27th September 1944 in KZ Stutthof. As it turned out the selection on 25th September was also for a work commando. I got the transport list, so I found out that there were in the transport from Auschwitz-Birkenau to Stutthof 4501 women of different nationality, 1849 Hungarian and 17 my hometown Békéscsaba. My mother got the number 91613. IST informed me also that my mother died on 18th December, the cause of death was not mentioned.

If you have any information (Hungarian, German or English) dealing with the above mentioned events please notify me. eMail address: g_hirsch@gmx.ch

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