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HOLOCAUST TESTIMONIES


Name of deponent: Israel Leib, known as Leon Gelberger, also known as Vogelhut
Date of birth: November 13, 1909
Birth place: Brzesko
Current Residence: Kamiena Gora
Occupation: Doctor
Number in Oswiecim (Auschwitz) camp: 171958


The war found me in Wolbrom, where I lived until the liquidation of the Jews in November 1942. From there, I was smuggled to Sosnowiec, where it was relatively calm. I was in great danger, however, because refugees from the General Gouvernement were subject to deportation to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). Doctors could legalize themselves on condition that they would come voluntarily to neighboring labor camps.

I was sent to the camp at Breslau-Wenkirch, one of the most heavily-worked camps, which I nevertheless survived. There, Lf. Winter - ruffian, L. A. Kronenberg from Lodz will have a bad report from the Jewish people. In the camp, he beat, stole, spied on fellow prisoners and informed on them to the authorities. Jews in this camp were from the area of Poland which adjoined the Reich.
The work norm exceeded normal strength. It involved the construction of railway tracks. The mortality rate was very high. The “soup” was inedible so that 2 liters of soup were exchanged for one small packet of margarine. There were many diseases such as swelling, phlegm, diarrhea, frostbite. Many people didn't have shoes and in freezing weather, they walked barefoot. Some prisoners had rags tied to their feet.

I worked in the camp as a doctor in very difficult conditions. Lf. set a certain maximum of ill people in the sick room. The number of ill people couldn't exceed this certain set number. Ill people who exceeded this number were thrown from the sick room. They went half-alive to work from where they were often taken as dead people.

It was forbidden to write letters. For attempted correspondence the Germans sent people to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). For attempting to escape, prisoners were punished by a beating of 25, 50 or even a 100 blows on naked backside. Almost no one survived this beating. People died the same day or on the next day. People tortured couldn't stay in the sick room and others took them half living to work and often there were accidents such that they died on the way. In some cases for attempting to escape people were shot.

There was terrible scenes of the people dragged along to work and prisoners unconscious because of beating who were taken by other prisoners much like porters carried things. If prisoners from the same room from which some one escaped didn't report within 10 minutes this escape, all the prisoners from that room were punished. It was not officially a death camp, but a labor camp, but death was everywhere there.

Every few days there were selections in the hospital and from there were sent transports of sick people to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). From 300 prisoners who were in the camp at one time, 100 persons were sent to the crematorium. The highest mortality rate was among the Western Jews, especially among those from Holland. The civilian (German) population acted scandalously. Foremen tortured prisoners who returned to the camp beaten. Many were injured with broken bones.
After 6 months I returned to Sosnowiec. There I found the ghetto to have been closed. There occurred Aktions sometimes. Merin, president of the Centrale of the Judenrät with headquarter in Sosnowiec, was liked by most of the Jewish population. The Jews believed that, with his help, they could survive the war. Because of repeated Aktions the Jews built hideouts so skillfully constructed that the Germans, even knowing that in a house was a bunker, searched for it sometimes five hours and didn't find it. Because there was fear that there might be a surprise Aktion, there were before each building a so-called "guard" who gave a sign quickly when Germans were close, so That, when in one action there was a goal of transporting set of 5,000 people, the Germans didn't find even 2,000.

In August 1943 the ghetto was surrounded by a strong cordon of police. I was announced that Sosnowiec was now to be “Judenfrei". If those hidden in bunkers would appear voluntarily, they would be sent to labor camps. Otherwise, all those captured would be shot. This trick was successful. Almost all people appeared from their hideouts. All were sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). There were left in the ghetto a group of Jews for liquidation of the ghetto. A “Lager” (camp) was set up for these persons.. There was Doctor's Kommando whose task it was to liquidate the hospital and collect the drugs and medical devices found there. We loaded 30-plus cars in a short period of time.

In this liquidation "Lager" (camp) were about 450 Jews. From time to time there took place deportation Aktions which sent persons to their deaths. At this time Jews tried to get American papers. They believed that American citizens went to so called: "I-Lag" (Internierungslager).

Indeed there were some such transports. But those persons who left on them were not heard from again. One day during the making-up of one such transport, Merin and his assistants Franya Czarna and Chaim Merin the President of the Centrale Judenrat in Sosnowiec, Dr. Lowenstein and Dr. Borenstein, former president of the "Joint” (Distribution Committee in Warsaw were called to report to the police station. None of those persons were seen again. Later in Oswiecim (Auschwitz) I received information from persons working in a Sonderkommando that those individuals went, without selection, to the gas chambers.

After the deportation Aktion during which the Germans shot Jews on the streets, the bodies were buried in mass graves on the site of the ghetto. After several months, chief of the Gestapo (Hans) Dreier ordered an exhumation of the bodies .Some trucks came from Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and the bodies were taken to the crematorium in Oswiecim (Auschwitz). At that time, I lived in the "Liquidation Lager" (camp) with my wife and daughter.

On January 13, 1944 the Liquidation Lagers in Sosnowiec and Bedzin were ended and we were sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). In Birkenau, there was a selection at the railway station in Birkenau. There were selected old people, exhausted menand women and mothers with children. My wife and daughter went to their deaths from there.

In Birkenau I went through different events. I worked some time as normal laborer and later as a doctor. In January 1944, there was the biggest selection in Birkenau. "Blocksperre" (Closed barrack) Commissions went to each barracks and performed selections. Naked prisoners had to walk in front of the Commission. There went to their deaths not only ill people, exhausted and old people, but often young persons with athletic physiques. The Germans selected the victims for death in an indifferent manner, often by the wave of a finger.

Some sick Jews were taken to sick room and treated. Each sick person had to have a detailed card of his disease, laboratory examination, observation, operations and treatment. A sick person sometimes got a roll to eat, often received white bread and a diet of soup. It sometimes happened that ill persons were months in the hospital and later as a convalescent went to so called "Schonungsblok" (recovery barrack), where they didn't have to work.

If at this time, there was a selection such a convalescent who was treated so long time in hospital went undisputedly to his death. Doctors had to conduct very carefully each case history and if it there were a diagnosis in which the sick person should receive a proper drug, then the doctor had to note this in the case history even if the sick person would never get the drug. Often it happened that sick person rotted in terrible conditions on a bare bunk, lying in his own excrement, beset with lice, dying from hunger, but his case history had to be written and conducted just like in the best model clinic.

Twice a week the blood and urine had to be examined, the patient was weighed, and so on. This was the system of Dr. Tilo. The treachery of this "Lagerarzt" (Camp Doctor) reached such a degree that he sent doctors to the Punishment Kommando for not making a complicated laboratory examination which examination didn't matter at all for the treatment. In this manner I got myself sent to the Punishment Kommando called "Königsgraben", as a person acting to the detriment of sick Häftlinge (prisoners).

Doctor Senkleber was hardly beating ill people and doctors using vulgar abuses to them. Doctors had to clean floors, to bring water, to sweep, clean latrines, bring buckets of coffee and soup from the second "Lager" (camp), a distance of about 1 km, they had to chop wood, to unload coal. All this they had to do in addition to medical work.

People very exhausted and sick with diarrhea were driven to Block #12 in "Lager" F, where they were left without treatment or care. There, they merely waited for death or for the next selection.



 
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