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Kuba Enoch

MOTL 2007

 I arrived in Birkenau on the fourth of August 1944, aged 18. 1,443 Jews from the transport were given numbers, and the rest, approximately 20,000 were sent straight to the gas chambers.

My first memory of this place was the noise and commotion. The SS were screaming “Juden rauss!” The dogs were barking and we were being herded with whips “left” or “right”. We could smell the terrible stench of bodies burning. It was night and we could see the fire coming out of the chimneys. After I came to Australia, this memory stayed with me so much so that I couldn’t stand the smell of barbecuing meat for many years.

Next we were stripped naked, showered and deloused. After which we were given prison uniforms and sent to be tattooed. My number was B4831, which I was given by a Jewish prisoner who was quite helpful to me. He asked me in Yiddish where I came from, and advised me to try to get onto the next work detail from the camp, otherwise I would go through the chimney.

We were sent to the barracks which had previously been occupied by the gypsies, who had been sent to the crematorium.

The call for work outside the camp was for doctors, engineers and highly educated people, who ironically were sent to a coal mine where most of them perished. I was accepted onto the next work transport, and thank God left Birkenau for Auschwitz III, which was known as Buna works. This was the IG Farben Factory which produced aviation fuel, rubber, margarine and other products from coal. This complex was as big as the suburb of Bondi. The allies bombed us regularly to try and stop production.

Our food allocation was a bit better than other inmates. We used to get one loaf of bread divided between seven or eight, with a substitute black coffee, occasionally with one morsel of margarine. At lunch we were given soup which came from the German kitchen at the factory. Back at the camp at night I used to do extra chores for the Block Meister, this earned me extra rations. Every night before you were allowed your ration of soup, your clothes were inspected for lice.

Every Sunday there were inspections, where we had to run naked in front of the SS. People who were not deemed fit were sent for ‘recovery’ to Birkenau, and never seen again. Anyone who was sent to ‘hospital’ also disappeared on a weekly basis.

As the Russian Army advanced in the winter of 1945 Auschwitz-Birkenau was evacuated. We were sent on a three day and night ‘death march’ towards Germany. After three days whoever had survived the death march was loaded onto open cattle cars. Those who survived ended up in Buchenwald concentration camp. I survived there until the American Army liberated the camp on 11th April, 1945.

I would like to comment on my impression of the March of the Living. I would like to call it also a celebration or Victory March. I have many reasons for this which I will present to you.

I know that we are here to remember the slaughter of millions of our families and our brethren by the Nazis. They tried to eradicate all the Jewish people in Europe and leave a museum in Prague as an exhibit of the extinct Jewish race. We stand here today as proud Jews. Hitler did not win! We will continue to flourish through your generation. To become a strong nation please G-d.

I would like to remember here the one and a half million children who were taken from us so early in their lives. As I personally remember my brother. What a loss to humanity because I am sure their contribution would have been enormous.

As a child in Krakow I remember most Jewish families had a blue box in their homes and collected money in the hope of one day establishing a State of Israel. We are very lucky to live after 2000 years of galut, in this millennium where that hope has become a reality. We all wish that peace will soon come to Israel.

I want to thank you all, together with your families for making this difficult journey with me. I have only given you a glimpse of the horrors I lived through at your age. I turned my life around and established a new home in Australia. I have four children and eleven grandchildren who together with all of you have the responsibility to carry the memories of the past as you stride towards a confidant future.