Describing a living testimony of myself Stanley Glogover
and my immediate family. Born in Makow-Maz Poland, in 1925 and within 14 years of my existence I witnessed these most brutal terrifying episodes the world has ever witnessed, what I have lived through in the early years of my life. By sheer luck and miracle I have made it back from the entrance to the gas chambers of Berkernau/Auschwitz. Never before revealed of my fighting for survival with all the odds against me. As life goes on, the pain in my heart will forever never cease !!
Nazi Germany Overruns Poland
To start with I was only 14 years old when Germany invaded Poland. Within days Poland was overrun. The sadness and the restlessness of that day are still with me 63 years later. We all had a faint idea what to expect, after reading the newspapers daily of all the tragic episodes inflicted on the Jewish people in Germany and Austria. No one ever dreamed or entertained the thought that one-day not too far away, the beginning of the end of the Jewish race in Europe, whether young or old will endure the same. I personally have gone through many terrifying experiences never ever heard of or read about. Being very emotional I could not even tell it to my immediate family, or fear not to break down myself, and hurt them at the same time.
Life Inside the Ghetto
In the ghetto on 4/41 the S-S rounded up 5 young guys including myself off our job due to the fact that 3 young males escaped the ghetto. They gave notice to the committee of the ghetto, that if the escapees do not surrender within 2 days the hostages will be executed by beheading on the gallows to be erected where the big synagogue was destroyed. The Jewish committee got frantic and was willing to give the German Mayor
any financial aid they would be able to raise. My father,Lazar Glogover, who was granted a permit to supply the ghetto with food on rations was able through intermediaries to appease the mayor granting his wife a Russian full length dark brown sable fur coat.
As a result the mayor finally agreed to let this pass. About 2-3 weeks passed and the mayor?s wife with her young son came to visit the ghetto. Primarily to show off to her young son the power that she possessed and how she can do anything she desired, wearing the sable coat my father gifted her.She came in front of the store and with a loud voice called on my mother Anna Glogover to come on down the steps to face her. We all ran to the front door to see what she wanted. My father and myself remained at the front door, and my mother went down the steps to greet her. My mother bowed to her and she was not satisfied yet. She yelled out to her to bow down again until I tell you to stand up. She kept her down for about 2 minutes until her blood came showing in her face. Enough she screamed out as mother stood at attention. She spit in her face and saying in German you cursed Jew. I stood about 10 feet from them. I would have killed her for abusing my mother, but I was afraid to inflict any harm on her since the entire ghetto would have gone up in flames. Rumors went around the ghetto that she did all this to show her little son the power she possessed.
My Righteous Grandma,Rashka Glogover,Written Up in Newspapers for her Great Deeds to Humanity-Loved By All
About 2 months later a notice came from the mayor to the committee, ordering all elderly people 65 and up to pack only essential belongings and attend in the marketplace the next day at 9 AM. They will be taken to a special place and cared after by doctors and nurses until the war comes to an end. All kinds of thoughts went through everybody?s minds, what is this all about? Nobody had any answers and hoped for the best. My grandmother from my father?s side lost her husband at an early age. He left her a food store that provided all kinds of food essentials for the entire neighborhood through the years. The profits she took in was donated in food packages for the poor, sick, underprivileged etc.
She was always written up in the local press, calling her the righteous women.
Any preacher that would come to our town to raise money for
any institution, knew they would be welcome to stay in her house for a day or two. She was always there to assist and help everyone in need. She was very happy and thankful for having such a nice family of her own. All her children were well learned and well off financially.
Her grandchildren would always gather in her house on Friday after school. Always prepared special soup and fresh baked rolls as well as different varieties of cookies. The children looked forward to Fridays, to spend the later afternoon with grandma eating and singing songs, it was very festive. My grandmother always wore the same dress. Being the oldest of her grandchildren I would always ask her, why the same dress all the time? Well my child was her answer. I consider myself the luckiest woman of the world. As long as I can help others in need to better their lives, that makes me very happy, and having such a beautiful darling family of my own, adds much happiness in my life and blessed by God who chose me to help all the others that needed dire help.
Well, the date was changed to Monday, for all the elderly to attend in the marketplace at 9am. The day before on Sunday she asked all her children and grandchildren to gather in her house in the late afternoon. Her words still ring in my ears to this day. Children she said, please don?t cry, don?t shed a single tear, God will shelter me. I pray that the war will come to an end very soon, and you will be able to live a normal life again. God she said gave me many good years and lots of happiness and allowed me to do what I most desired- to help others in need. And if the end is coming to me I am also ready. She raised her dress to show us, that she took out new white sheets from the closet and wrapped around her body, just in case to be ready to be put to rest?. We all kissed her good bye, and never believed that they would ever harm elderly people in any way. We took her out to the gate of the ghetto to walk out to the marketplace where many others were there already. We could not go past the gate and never heard from her again, as to where they were killed or where they were buried.
Unfortunately I never was able to find out.
A Trip To An Unknown Destination ?Little Did We Know?
Towards the end of October of 1942 an order came into the Ghetto Committee that the entire ghetto would be transferred to another ghetto in Mlawa. Reason: Needed men power behind the military lines. We had no choice and could not resist their orders and so had to comply. We packed some of our belongings as much as we could carry. Left everything else in our homes behind and locked the doors, hoping one day to be able to come back home again. We were put into horse driven wagons. The trip took about 5 to 6 hours. After arriving into Mlawa we were pushed into already crowded apartments, sleeping all over the naked floors.
A total disaster, it was unbearable to live that way. We were told the next morning that it was only temporarily, just for a few days, until the trains will arrive to take us further west. Our destination was Birkernau/Auschwitz where we will be working for industries and factories supplying all kinds of equipment for the German military. We had no choice again but to comply. No one ever heard of Birkernau/Auschwitz and no one would ever believe that we were heading to an extermination camp in Birkernau/Auschwitz and that this even existed.
In the late part of November of 1942 we arrived into Birkernau/Auschwitz late at night. We were rushed to get off the cattle cars and we were lined up for selection. All the women and children up to the age of 15 were immediately lined up and marched into the camp?s gas chambers to be eliminated by the butcher Dr. Mengele. All the others men, young and old went through a selection of who is fit to go into camp and who is also to be done away with.
From the first transport of about 900 people only about 136 came into the camp, all others were eliminated into the gas chambers. Among the 136 that made it into the camp, were only 2 fathers and their sons. One was my father Lazar and myself Stanley. The other was Mr. Chechanover and his son, Motek, who is still alive today and lives in Israel.
Unfortunately, things in the camp were very tough. They worked you very hard, constant beating on a daily basis, and little food just to sustain life. All this was done specifically to eliminate you as fast as possible to make room for new arrivals from all over Europe. Speaking to older inmates in camp, you were told that chances for survival were nil. People in the hundreds ran to the electric wire daily not seeing a ray of hope ever to make it to freedom. Within two months from the 136 that came into the camp about 34 still remained alive.
After the 3rd week in camp I lost sight of my father. I did not know what happened to him since we were separated at the arrival. We were assigned to 2 different barracks. I was able to see him several times after work. No conversation ever, only with tears in our eyes, knowing that this too will come to an end soon. My only thoughts were that either he passed away, or was sent to another camp. I had no answer to his where abouts.
Encounter With My Uncle Azriel Glogover Working in the Gas Chambers, Reveals How My Mom Died
While in camp I found out that my father?s youngest brother Azriel came into the camp one transport before us. He was a very wellbuilt 23-year-old guy. At the selection of the arrivals he was assigned right away to special commando in camp called ?Sonder Commando?. They were separated from all others in camp, due to the fact that they were not allowed to mingle or discuss anything with outsiders. At one time by sheer luck I made contact with him. Standing in front of his barrack facing the opposite direction I was able to talk to him. He in turn was standing near a small window with iron bars across. He then revealed to me that my mother died holding my 2 younger brothers and my baby sister in her arms close to her chest. Well, as sad as I was I could not cry, since I know she would have suffered from beatings and starvation and would never have had a chance. My only consolation was that they are at peace now and will never ever have to suffer. He also told me that right after cremation he put their ashes into jars buried them at night and put them not far from his barrack next to a tree and made a prayer.
Severely Terrifying Brutal Punishment-Why???
In December of 1943 after marching back into camp from a hard and difficult day of work, we were lined up to be counted in front of our barrack. Consequently the total inmates did not add up correctly. After standing at attention for over an hour, I could not stand any longer since I was very tired, hungry and overworked. I felt like fainting. Being tall my place in line was the last row against the barrack. I looked up to the roof and I saw an icicle hanging down right above me. I reached out my arm and broke the icicle off and put it into my mouth. Unfortunately for me, the S-S man in charge noticed it. He came right over, slapped me very hard in my face and head, marked my number down and said, ?I will deal with you later.? Before I had a chance to straighten up I felt drops of blood dripping down on my shoulder. There was nothing to do to help myself. There was no doctor, no nurse, and no sickroom. I missed my portion of soup for that day since I could not stand in line for it.
About 3 hours later that night, the loud speaker came on asking for my number 81481 to immediately appear at the front door. I had no choice but to obey. I came out and saw the same S-S butcher and man killer in front of me. His comment in German was. Well you dog you. I am here to fulfill my promise. Drop your pants and start counting. I started counting and after the third or fourth whip I fainted. I cannot describe how many swollen bloody ridges it left on me. I was dragged by my feet back to my bunker. How many lashes I received I don?t know. All I remember is that the guys next to me helped me the next morning to obtain my portion of soup and line up to go to work again. I was very lucky that nobody noticed how little work I was able to do and tried very hard to hold my own. Several days passed and an infection started in my right ear with high temperature. I could not remain in the barrack to rest, but to line up again in the morning with my commando to go back out to work. Two more days passed and I was getting worse and I thought no use, let the end come. Better sooner than later. It is a loosing battle, I will never be able to come out of it, and decided to remain in the barrack. After all the commandos left camp to go back to work, the trucks came around to gather all the corpses and the sick who no longer can avail themselves as useful to be productive. I too was lifted up and put on the same truck among all the others. The truck had only one destination alive or dead the last stop was the gas chambers. Here a
?Miracle happened?. I know for sure that my mother Anna and grandmother Rashka from heaven were there to save me. As the truck lifted up and all the dead bodies as well as the living bodies fell to the ground, a German doctor in a military uniform called out and pointed to me and one other person to pull us out and put us into a military car and took us to a small house near the gate with a red cross shield on the door. It was a place where they conducted experiments for their own needs. I was placed into a second room to wait for my next. What they did or what happened to the other man, I could never find out.
When they finally brought me into room I saw a narrow long table with straps hanging down on the sides. I begged the S-S men not to do anything to me. I don?t want to live please shoot me I pleaded. Shut up you dog was their answer. They strapped me down to the table with 2 more S-S men at my shoulders and feet to hold me down. They cut open my skull in the back of my ear without any anesthesia or painkillers. I am sure this was done as
an experiment to see if a soldier who gets badly wounded at the front line, would be able to be operated on immediately on the spot, instead of chancing the time it would take to get him as fast as possible to a hospital. In the meantime this came as a miracle to me as I was chosen person to live on again with the help of my mother and grandmother. May they rest in peace. The man in charge of this small Red Cross house was a young Christian fellow from
Czechoslovakia by the name of Bruno who himself was imprisoned in Birkernau/Auschwitz for political reasons. He took a liking to me, while taking a great chance to tell me to believe him that he would do the best to save me, feed me, care for me and hide me in the closet and under his bed, but told me to please do not cough, sneeze or make any noise or else our lives would be threatened, and for sure we would be shot to death. After 7-8 days I got well enough. He returned me back to my barrack. I found out later that Mr. Bruno never made it back to freedom, since all political prisoners were executed before evacuating
My New Job Assignment
The Capo in my barrack, whose name I do not remember, assigned me to work with a commando at the train station, right at the entrance gate to Birkernau. Arrivals on daily basis were coming in twice daily primarily Jewish people from all over Europe. Some days from the entire transport of approximately 800-900 people, only a hand full were allowed into the camp. Other times women too were allowed into camp, Our job was to open the doors of the cattle wagons, let the people off very fast, making them leave the heavy baggage, and telling them to take only what they could carry in their hands.
If the S-S was not watching us we were able to advise the young mothers to give their babies to their grand parents to hold, so they had a better chance to come into the camp, only when women were allowed in. Depending on their quotas we told them in Yiddish not to say a word. We lined them up for selection, unloaded their heavy cartons and big luggage and loaded all of them on trucks to be taken to a special warehouse where it was all transported to other locations. Then we would clean out the train cars to be taken to other destinations for more people. I worked there until the end.
Marching The Highways Littered With Dead Corpses, My Only Choice to Escape
It was the beginning of 1945 when an order came into camp to line up at 7AM out doors with all our belongings (we had none).
When all the inmates were out and ready, we were put into open train cars and took us into the bitter cold weather into Germany,
Czechoslovakia then back to Germany. No food was given to us at all. Many died from the freezing weather. When passing the city Teresenstat in Czechoslovakia the train slowed down a little, and many women were throwing bags with food into the open cars. Some were lucky to catch it, but others were not. The lucky ones were better able to carry on a bit longer. The ones who were not as lucky, between the cold and starvation died sooner. As a result at least half of those people on those trains died in transit. They were not removed from the trains until we came back to Germany. Observation: Seeing these women throwing lots of food already prepared, we understood that there must have been other trains passing this city before us. Many of our inmates did not act normal or human any longer. They turned into animals trying to grab only for themselves, not sharing or caring for others, just to grab another bite of anything into their mouth to prolong their life.
Arriving in Germany we were ordered to abandon the cars and line up to march on the highway. Where to? We did not know. The highway was already littered with dead corpses for miles.
?We have no choice?, I told the guys I was marching with, ?I see a forest on both sides of the highway nearby, this is our last chance or we will die, if you don?t make a move I will do it by myself.? I told them. As we approached the forest we made a move. We chased into the forest in different directions, heard bullets fired at us, and thank God we were very lucky. The trees in the forest saved our lives. The next day we found a shed filled with bundles of hay. We fitted in well. It was certainly a lifesaver. We were in the forest for a good week to ten days. We were able to go out at night into the fields and bring back turnips and white beets hidden by the farmers in little sheds. It was still winter and most of the fields were covered with snow. We were able to go out on the highway at night one at a time and take off some jackets, shoes, and pants in good condition from the corpses to keep warmer.
Liberated Through the American Armed Forces
For the last few days we heard shooting going on very clearly, like it was not too far away. It all came to a sudden stop.
Could not understand why? The next day we were able to see some homes with white flags hanging out the windows and we could not understand why? We thought that maybe, they were celebrating some kind of victory. It was possible they were able to repulse their enemy. It was not until the next day in the morning, we saw a lot of people gathering in the street and heard voices not in German, possibly English. We could not take a chance so we had to wait a while longer until we were convinced that they were Americans for sure. That was exactly what happened. We came out to them one at a time in our striped uniforms. At first they yelled out, stop! They did not know who we were. We looked strange to them. Filthy striped uniforms, did not speak English, only Polish, Yiddish and some German. They brought in many other soldiers to converse with us, until they found one soldier who spoke some Yiddish. We told them some of our past history, where we were, where we came from etc. We were right away invited to their out door kitchen, which was set up 200 or 300 feet, back from the forest. We were overwhelmed with tears thanking them with kisses for giving us life and freedom. They gave us lots of food and of course we got very sick, throwing up, terrible stomach pains and diarrhea. As a result we all wound up in a hospital pumping our stomachs out and putting us on a very mild diet. We recuperated in about 4-5 days with some medication and diet. They showed us where the town was named Arnsdorf (lower Bavaria) and we were able to get a small apartment that formerly belonged to a Nazi, imprisoned in Russia. On 34 Kirchen Strasse Arnsdorf-Eggenfelden N/B. After we found this apartment we worked with a family outside the town by the name of Otto Leichenberger. We helped out working on his farm. They were an elderly couple whose 2 sons were in the army and were prisoners of war in Russia. After several months we decided to inquire in the local government if there were any other survivors in the vicinity or elsewhere. We were told that there were some D.P camps in lower Bavaria as well as in the vicinity of Munich called Feldafing. Well, I decided to acquire some civilian clothes, pants, jackets, shirts, shoes, etc. Hold on to my camp uniform and never give it up. Once I was all set, I decided to share with my friends that I have decided to take some time off to pursue some searching for survivors of my family who probably had a better chance to survive from the 1st transport of my city Makow-Maz, Poland to Auschwitz. ?Maybe I?ll be lucky?. I took several days to some shopping for canned food packaged bread cans of liverwurst, sardines etc. I got myself a knap sack, a military raincoat, and a hand carry on large bag. Packed in everything I possessed and said good-bye to my friends Issack Jablouski and Shmulek Paplowicz and parted with the hope to be in touch and meet some day again. There was no charge for survivors for any transportation by bus or train. I traveled from city to city asking all kinds of people in uniform, where I can make contact with foreign D-P(displaced-persons camps) and was able to find them in the smaller cities. Every camp I came to had a list of the people from camp, as well as an other list of people they knew of that survived the dead camps and where they presently settled. I went through all the places in Germany and was told that there are more camps in Austria. I did not hesitate for a minute, went to the borderline of Austria, went through Garmish-Partenkirshen Mountains climbed over the mountain and came into Austria. The first city by bus was Salzburg stopped off there for one day and was told yes there was a D-P camp for a short while and was transferred to Italy. I asked if there was a list of survivors and could not get an answer at all.
Pursuing My Search Into Italy
Had no choice but to continue my journey to wherever it may be. Italy was the next direction. Left on this journey in September of 1945 and it is already December, with little accomplished to date. I continued to the border into Italy. My destination was Brenner Pass, and other tall mountains here.
I hired a guide for 100 German Marks and some canned food. I did not think I?d be able to do it by myself. Climbing up the mountain was not too bad. It took almost six hours. Rested there in a bunker at the top. On the way down I could no longer walk or climb, since I got very dizzy facing down the mountain. Wearing the military coat, which was made out of a fine plastic, with a soft body to it. I sat down pulling the tail of the coat forward through the center of my feet (crotch). With one hand and the guide gave me a heavy short stick from a tree in the other hand to hold back when needed and push forward at a slower pace. This was the only way I was able to get myself to bottom of the mountain. Thank God we made it. I was very happy to have come down at a cost of a small price, tore the entire back seat of my coat as well as my pants and some of my skin. A little blood, but I overcame the problem shortly realizing what I have just achieved. But not everything turned out well. After the guide left me, I was stopped by a border policeman asking me who I am, and what I was doing here. Could not understand each other at first, then I was able to tell him in German that I lost my entire family and I am searching to see if I can find anyone at all, or how to make contact to find them. Well he had no choice but to put me into prison overnight (I had a great rest) and to tell the judge my story. I certainly did . The judge felt pity for me and gave me a note stating that I was foreign, originating from Poland, went through hell from the Nazi government- I am no rebel and no danger to the Italian country. I am here only to see if I could find anybody at all from my city. The Judge signed the letter,
including the court?s stamp.
Did not waste any more time, I was able to make contact with a man in the local government and advised me to visit the following cities: Milano, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Napoli, Bari
Those he said were the most prominent cities and their local governments would be able to help me and advise me. All these cities are leading south to the very end of Italy. I thanked him kindly, he also advised me that I would be able travel with buses and trains as long as I have the letter from the judge that I am not a threat to anyone, and that I am a foreign subject looking for my family displaced during the war. I kept on moving south by train took about 5 to 6 hours with several short stops to Milano came in
late in the evening. Did not have to look to find a place to sleepover, since I found a little park nearby big enough ,and a bench to stretch my legs out. No problem at all, pretty rested in the morning. Shaved and washed up to get ready and hopefully find some one in the government who could help me and advise me. Sure enough after arriving at the city commissioner?s office his assistant Mr. Dante Lombardo speaking a little German was able to help me by advising me that he knew for a fact that there are many little offices in Rome of foreigners on Via Nacionale, they are all set up to help their country men either go back home or set up temporarily in a place to stay and help them find a job and advise them where others of their nationalities are located. ?Very good advice? I said and I thanked Mr. Lombardo for his kind help. He also told me that there was beautiful Jewish temple not too far from City Hall. He pointed to me the direction to go there, thanked him again and went on my way very happy and very encouraged. I had lots of time since my train further south was going to arrive later in the evening. I had a 20 to 25 minutes walk to the temple and did just that. I came there met some Italian Jews, very few were left. Many Jewish families left for Colombia, Argentina, Cuba and Brazil. Conversation was very difficult, since he did not
speak Yiddish, only Italian. He was a third generation Italian and during the war he was with some other Italian families in hiding. I was able to understand that there were many tourists in this temple since the war ended about one year ago. The Italian man invited me for pizza not too far away. I had a double slice for 70 or 80 liras = $0.22 (350 liras for $1.00). The day went by very fast and got on my way to the train station. Got there just in time, but due to a delay, the train pulled in one and a half hours later.
This Young Beautiful Angel From God, Giving Me Hope and Inspiration Turns My Life Around, was a Darling Gypsy
We boarded the train, had no problem getting a good seat in the back corner of the train and were able to rest and sleep well. In the early morning before arrival to Bolognia I had some sardines on bread with a water quencher. I have decided to visit Bolognia only, skip Florence and head straight to Rome. While eating my breakfast a fairly young lady came over to me dressed differently than all the others. She was wearing a very colorful pleated cotton skirt pretty nice colorful off shoulder blouse and to match a handkerchief over her head. I will never forget her colorful wardrobe. She asked me if she could sit down next to me. Gave it some thought and said of course. There is nothing to be afraid or concerned about. Her approach to me was that I am a foreigner who spoke only in German. My response was not fast enough, when she interjected and said are you not? You don?t have to answer me. I will tell you all about yourself, and what you are doing here. Well she said if your share some food with me; I will be able to tell your future. Sure enough I was sold on the idea immediately. I offered her three cans of sardines and some bread or three cans of liverwurst and bread. She did not take too kindly to my offer. She also wanted money. I told her if I would know what she could tell me, I might offer her something more. Since money I did not give away, needed it for myself in case I should run out of food, not knowing how much longer I will have to continue in my search. She opened up to me and said show me your palms left and right, looked and looked at all the edges in my palms and shook her head in disbelief. Took out a deck of cards and laid them out at the bench. Studied them very carefully and said. You are coming from a war torn part of the world. You are left all by yourself. Your family is all but gone. You will succeed where you?re now heading too. You will not stay here in Italy very long. You are about to find the only one closest to you, and together leave a short time later very far away and be very happy from there on.
I bursted out crying. I cannot believe everything you said to me, sounds to be very true. You are an angel from God in giving me so much hope. I took out one hundred German marks and gave it to her with lots of kisses. When the train came to a stop in Bologna we parted, she traveled further on, and I got off. Bologna is a very nice city. There are lots of parks, many musicians playing different musical instruments, mostly with sad faces. I suppose it was a little more than a year that the war came to an end, but the suffering of the families, who lost their brothers in the war, has not yet ceased.
It will most certainly take much more time to heal their wounds. I put my backpack over my shoulders and started looking around to find someone to be able to converse with and ask questions relating to my mission. It took a little time and found other foreigners in pursuit of the same cause as me. Mostly of the Jewish faith. They too were here in Bologna more than a day and hoped to be able to accomplish more in Rome. As I was told by a city official the day after I came over the Alps Mountains into Italy. They also knew that there were several camps in Austria and they were transferred later after the war into Italy. Well, I hope and pray it should not take too long before we find out where to make contact with them. I spend the rest of the day searching out different people and asking them all kinds of questions regarding survivors who were transferred into other D.P. camps. No one was able to give me a positive answer, only to encourage me that Rome will be very helpful in advising what direction to pursue. Well, the way it sounded Rome would be the only place to go and do lots of searching in making contact with whoever will be able to assist my needs in every way,and hope for the best. It was later in the evening. I got myself a nice slice of pizza with a cold drink to wet my mouth and throat since I did not stop talking the entire day. After my snack, I got together with some of the other guys who thought the same way, as Rome would be the best solution to our puzzle. We then decided to skip Florence and go directly to Rome. We were all together seven guys including myself. We found out that the next train to Rome will arrive between 6 and 7AM the next morning. In the meantime we decided to sleep over in this little park with many benches, and plan out our next move once we get to Rome. Since we also found out that Via Nacionale is a very important street where many organizations are located, we made up to obtain several maps pertaining to our needs in the city of Rome and the important Via Nacionale. We will divide ourselves into 2 or 3 groups to cover more territory and if any important information is obtained to notify all others at once. It all sounded great and we could not wait for the next day for this great promise. That night was the longest night I could ever remember. We could not sleep just thinking the entire night that this will be a great move. I felt in my heart that we are going to encounter good news and great promise to our search. None of us guys were asleep, we kept on mumbling to one another visual happenings taking place the entire night.
Following My Pursuit Into the Very End of Italy
We all felt great and excited. The train that was passing by, got slower than ever. We were all looking in the direction of the train station, which was very close to us. Every minute seemed like an hour. Finally, the train pulled in. time around 7AM. Destination- Rome. All of us got on the train at the same time chose the front corner on the left and right of the first car with 8 small benches 4 on the left and 4 on the right, so that each one of us will have a bench for ourselves to rest on. My backpack is sitting next to me at the end of the bench and getting lighter in weight daily. There is still enough food for another 7-8 days. We may get lucky and find another D-P camp before my food runs out, and I?m sure we would be all invited to stay and partake, if we wished to. Kept up our conversation regarding our strategy in Rome and decided to split up into two groups of three, each to search out in 2 different directions and leave the 7th, the oldest stationed in one spot. We will set all this up on Via Nacionale. All agreed it would be a great idea. The oldest guy in the middle 50?s, his name Motek came from Lomza, Poland near the Russian border. Lost his entire family he said., he doubts if there is anyone who made it. All others including myself were in the early 20?s to 30?s. Motek will act as the information station. If any should get lucky to make any connection of importance, Motek will be notified immediately, and we will be checking with him every two hours for any news bulletins. We had a great set up. It was much better and faster than everyone searching on their own. The train to Rome took longer than a day and a night since it kept on making short stops. We rested pretty well without much sleep. The train finally arrived in Rome the following late evening. We all go off the train with a great feeling. The station was full of people from all over. Local people, who were homeless as well as others on the move like us, but came there to spend the night with a roof over their heads. We had no choice but to do the same. Found a spot against a wall and made ourselves comfortable the best way we could. No one was in the mood to close his eyes because there was no chance to fall asleep. Too much noise surrounded us. We found out soon enough that there were small wagons outdoors with special ovens baking pizzas. It was certainly the best tasting pizza we had in a long time. My appetite was better than ever, smacking our lips time and again. We tried to find someone to talk to, no such luck, either they did not speak our language or were too tired to have a conversation at all. It was time for a rest and wait for the next morning. The next morning, after taking a bite to eat, got together and walked to Via Nacionale. Some one pointed out that its not too far away, we should get there within 20 to 25 minutes. While walking at a little faster pace, we decided to split up into 2 groups of three and we selected who would be the first three and who was in the second three. The 7th Motek(the information center) will be stationed on Via Nacionale, we will have to pick out the spot that should be very visible and tall. It should always be easy to identify. While walking to Via Nacionale we met several foreigners, 2 Hungarians, 1 Polish, and 1 Romanian who were there several days already and they reassured us that there are many small offices on the sidewalk level representing different nationalities. The people running these offices are very well informed to answer questions and will be helpful to assist and direct your to whatever your needs are. Our mission is getting easier and put us into a great mood, the time is getting closer. As we kept walking we started passing small store fronts with displays of different flags and lots of literature, sure enough about 400-500 feet further we see another store front. Glass windows and doors in the window were displaying a white flag with the Star of David on it. Guys we are home I screamed out very excited. The store was filled with survivors looking for their own people. We managed to get in and ask questions. We were told right away that yes, there is a D.P. camp in a city called Bari further south from here. There was no way to connect with them by phone. The last thing they heard several days ago, that they will be transferred to another facility not too far away and that will be a permanent D.P. camp. In the meantime he gave us lists of names of people who survived the camps. More names were being added to the list of survivors who knew of others who survived. The names were not orderly displayed and written in Yiddish, in Polish etc. I looked in haste to see if I?ll be able to find any names familiar to me. Sure enough within 10 minutes. I found the name Glogover in Yiddish and Polish. The first name was not there though. It had to be someone from my family. There were no other Glogovers that I knew of. I was very happy no matter who it would be. I was very delighted and upbeat but hesitant that it could be my father. Since they broke his right arm with a rifle on the 3rd day on his job. There was no medical help at all, either you would be productive or else eliminated. Well, it remains to be seen, and I can?t wait, I am getting very impatient. In asking all the others with us, if they had any luck finding anyone, their answers were mixed, since 4 could not find any names at all. The others had names like Greenberg, Goldman, Zuckerman, and Malach, and there were many of those names, but they did not know if those names were their relatives. They will have to do a lot of follow-ups and a lot of research. We spent the entire day walking on Via Nacionale and did not miss a single outlet involved in assisting with information as to where to go to be able to locate survivors or foreigners.
Well, since our destination now would be Bari, just to find out where the Displaced Persons camp was relocated. We inquired as to the best way to get there. The answer was, since it is only about 300 miles south east from Rome, our best bet would be to take the train south to Naples and take a bus across to Bari. Sounds very logic to do just that. We were also told that the train would arrive at the station by 5:30 PM therefore we should be there waiting for the train at least by 4PM due to the irregularity of this timetable. Well having enough time to get another big slice of their Italian best specialty and since I felt great my appetite increased due to the relaxed atmosphere I was in. My thoughts at this time were only reflected to what the beautiful gypsy had forecasted to me on the train to Bologna. I really think of her as an angel from God, sent to me with the help of my mother and grandmother in heaven, to appease me with hope to a bright future, and most of all in finding some one of my own family. It is not to be believed for this to have happened, and how lucky I will feel if this will really come true. The train finally pulled in almost an hour later than scheduled.
No complaints, thank God it was here. Pursuing our journey further to Naples,we were no longer 7 since 3 of our guys decided to stay on in Rome a little while longer, and try to look elsewhere for other developments. Made up to meet them later on, in the final D-P camp wherever to be. The night went by pretty fast. Got some rest from all the running around the day before in Rome. Speaking to the conductor if he knew where to make a connection by bus to go east to Bari. His answer in German was yes. In fact the train stops at an intersection in Naples and right there we should be able to make connection by bus to Bari. He also told us that he was well aware of a D.P. camp in Bari and was surprised to hear that the camp was to be relocated to another area. Anyway we should not have any problem to find out where the camp will be moved to. The government will be very willing to assist our needs. Things were falling into place much easier and without any tension. The train came to a stop at about 5 AM. Took my backpack over my shoulders, said goodbye and thanks to everyone assisting us, they all wished us best of luck. Got together with our 3 friends, left the train together to come out to a great surprise at the station- beautiful music this early in the morning, even before the day ever started. Walking a little further we watched a fruit man set up a table with lots of assorted fruits. Bought 4 large grapefruits for each one of us. Sweet as sugar and had lots of juice. Bought another 4 of the same for later on. In the meantime we found out that the bus to Naples will first arrive at about 8AM. There was plenty of time to kill and lots of things to see. Young kids from the neighborhood I suppose were showing all kinds of tricks with balls, cards, and etc. to earn a couple of liras. They were very cheerful, entertaining and polite. Everybody partook in rewarding them. Before you knew it, time went by very fast, said arrividerci to them all, and headed to the bus with large signs on the upper side windows ?Bari?. We were able to talk to the driver and told him for what reason we were heading to Bari. He understood some German and was able to tell us that yes he knew of a camp for foreigners in the outskirt of Bari but could not tell us if it was still there, since he only makes this route twice weekly. The trip to Bari will take about 4 hours, since making many stops will take more time on the road. We all still felt pretty good, getting closer to find out what we will encounter next. This mystery is with us without a stop, but deep in my heart I have no illusions for any disappointment. The entire trip to Bari we kept predicting and guessing where the D.P. camp will be. I personally did not care at all. I knew for sure it would be there some place. We are running out of territory soon. We are heading to the bottom heel of the foot. In the meantime we started to get hungry knowing we will be coming to Bari about 11:30-12:00 noon. I opened a box of sardines over 2 slices of bread and felt much better. My friends had salami-cheese etc. We were getting ready to greet the city of Bari within a short while. How far into the city the camp is we did not know yet. Time will tell very soon. Most of the Italian passengers have gotten off already. Very few were still on the bus. They did not speak any foreign language at all, Italian only. The next stop will be the last. The driver makes the announcement. We close up our bags and got ready. The driver motions and wants to talk to us. Ok we are here to listen to you. He stops the bus, tells us to wait and he will get off the bus to find out if possible where exactly the camp is located. Sure enough he came back to tell us that yes the camp had been evacuated, about 350 people in all, this past week further south, near 2 smaller cities called Lecce and Nardo, which are at the very end of Italy, right on the Mediterranean Sea. I took the news with a little disappointment due to the fact that I was getting tired. My friends asked me to take a break and stay a day or two in Bari on the ocean. It would do us a lot of good. I asked the driver how would we travel further south until the very end of Italy. His answer was there are several buses leaving daily at different time schedules all the way south to the very end. It would only be about 100-130 miles until the very end. I told my friends that my mind and my heart tell me not to stop, but to proceed further. You must bake while the fire is hot!!! I promised them, that should I succeed and my dreams come true, I will remember them forever, for their understanding of my feelings. They understood, wished me the best of luck, kissed on another and promised to meet one day with a happy successful accomplishment to all. I changed my mind leaving later this afternoon; I felt the chances of leaving early in the morning at 7:30 would be much better and easier to pin point locations I will be searching for. I will need some extra time in daylight. I asked the bus driver if there is any place nearby to drop my bag and lay down for the night. He assisted me very graciously to an indoor sports facility open 24 hours a day. It was already in the later part of the afternoon. Met some young kids playing basketball and handball. Could not converse with them at all, but showing a smile to a stranger. Had a little bite to eat and some cold water from the cooler and felt good. Closed my eyes on and off and could not wait for the morning. The night dragged on forever. Finally, some early morning light started to peek through the window right above me. Thank God another 2 ½ hours to board the bus. I started feeling restlessness, getting impatient since every minute lasted an hour. Walked outdoors to the bus station just around the corner. Here too peeling oranges, squeezed the juice by the glass, bananas, grapefruits, etc. Got 2 large red grapefruits. It kept me awake for the entire day.
Finding the Greatest Gift of All, My Dad
Some passengers started to gather near the bus and finally this nice tall Italian man comes over wearing a uniform and keys in his hands. Opens up the door, starts the motor to get the air-conditioner on and greeted everyone with an Italian smile. I moved close to him to find out if I?ll be able to converse with him. Yes he said in German only due to the fact that through out the years they always had many German and Austrian tourists more than others. I told him about myself, what brought me here and what I am trying to accomplish. He was very helpful in trying to accommodate me. Right away he told me that yes, there are two camps of foreigners, outside the large city of Lecce and near the small town of Nardo. One is in Santa Maria de Bagni and the other in Santa Maria de Leuca. Next to these 2 camps is a Villa turned into an office for the managers of the camps and handy men. I was enlightened to hear all of this. I stood up took him swung him around and gave him a big squeeze and great kiss for telling me what I was waiting and hoping for all along. My next question was how long would it take to get there. Well, he said, depending how many stops he will have to make. It will not be more than 3 to 3 ½ hours. Delighted I screamed out. All kinds of thoughts went through my mind. Could it be someone from my family with the Glogover name? Maybe it could be an uncle. It would certainly not be my father,who was transferred to another camp with a broken right arm two and a half years ago. How can anybody put a last name on the survivors list and leave out the first name? This I found to be very absurd. Well this is it, have no choice but to wait and find out the hard way. My heart is beating a little faster, but I am feeling better than ever. There is something to happen very soon and no matter what the outcome will be, it will be great news for me to be happy about. My mind does not stop exploring possibilities. Making a deal with God, promising him that even though you have taken away my loving beautiful mother age 34, my only 2 brothers ages 9 and 11, all my aunts, uncles cousins, grandparents that I know for sure were gassed, tortured and starved to death, none remained alive. Now is the time for you God to show me a miracle and give me this chance of coming closer to you.The only one I am not sure of whether he made it alive or not is my loving father. But chances were very remote; knowing how despondent he was after finding out that his entire family aside of me was annihilated. Enough of all this torture over and over again, I thought to myself. Things will turn out for the best. Time is going by not as fast as I would like, but I am not driving in a private car or taxi, so it will take another ½ to 1 hour longer. That was the reason why I chose to start out early in the morning. The time is already 10:30 AM, possibly another ½ hour left to go. Checked with the driver and said yes it should not take much longer. We are approaching Lecce in a few minutes, and then going towards Nardo, another 25 minutes to ½ hour. There I will drop you off in front of a large store and you will be able to see a small villa all in green down the street to the left with a navy blue flag on the roof. This is the management house for the 2 camps. Well, it is no more fantasy. I am approaching what I was looking for from the very start. I thanked the driver very much for being so nice and very thankful for all the help he extended to me. Oops, we almost there!!! We are passing Leece and approaching Nardo. Before, you know it driver asks me to get ready he will drop me off at the next corner, go to the end of the block and to the left. I get ready with my backpack on my back, waiting to stand up as soon as he stops. Here we are, I jump up and get to the door, turn back, threw kisses to everyone with lots of thank yous and appreciation. I jump off the bus not knowing what to expect but hoping and keeping my fingers crossed for a miracle to happen. I get to the green villa, knocked on the door. And this young lady opens the door and asks, ?What can I do for you?? It sounded a little German with a Yiddish dialect, which I detected right away. My response was, my name is Shlamek Glogover formerly from Poland. I am here in search for my family or any one from my city Makow-Maz Owiecki in Poland. Her answer was let me give you a list of survivors in alphabetical order; please take your time to go through it. I thanked her very much for her quick response. As she gives me the papers to look over she says to me I am from Hungary and a survivor herself formerly Birkenau, in late 1943 transferred to Buchenwald in 1944. What is your name again? It sounds familiar let me think? Oh yes there is a man by the name of Glogover but he is in the medical building, working with doctors analyzing the survivor?s complaints and setting up appointments with the doctors to visit by date and time. I said that I remember that my father was a nurse in the Polish army many years ago, but not a doctor, a businessman only. Well, lets take a look. She opens up the file with the papers divided up into 2 sets for D.P. camps. Camp #1 is in Santa Maria de Leuca and camp #2 in Santa Maria de Bagni. Not through the 1st camp, no such luck. Looking at the second camp sure enough there is a Glogover with the first name as Lazar, that is him I cried out without stopping, where would he be please tell me. He is my father; I must see him at once. Ok she said. I will go with you. Please don?t, I do not want to put him into shock. I want to pursue it all by myself in a very quiet way. He must have been very positive that I was no longer around, since he knew that Birkernau/Auschwitz was a death camp that you could not survive longer than a couple of weeks at most. I insisted to please let me know where this doctor?s place is and how do I get there. Ok, she said, in the back of this house about 100 feet up to the hill is a Villa, walk up about five steps to the Villa, coming up there you will walk through the door and see a very long corridor with people lined up to make appointments to see the doctors for whatever their needs are. Your father will determine what doctor could be of help to any or all the people suffering different illnesses and set appointments to see them. Many doctors are there daily in different rooms along side the wall of the hallway. Ok I said if this is the case if you want to be there please go up before me, not to make it very obvious. I will leave my backpack, wash up a little, fix my hair and come up slowly not to make a shocking impact on him. That was exactly what took place, walked up the steps, walked in slowly not to make any disturbance at all. I see a long line of people waiting to be interviewed and in front of them at the very end of the hallway a little desk and I noticed the man sitting in front of the desk looks like my father. I felt like crying out loud. I had to control myself but walk forward towards him. As I took several steps forward he somehow noticed me, fell off the chair to the floor. People on line started screaming.
Doctors came out and helped revive him to get him back on his feet and into the chair. That was my first reunion with my father in 1946, whom I have not seen since 1943. It took him a while longer to feel much better. We embraced each other with kisses and lots of tears from happiness and what a great and true miracle it was, that would never be forgotten. I hung in there for 3 hours until the day came to an end at 4PM, and together we returned to camp which was located about 10 minutes away. It sure was a very festive conclusion at camp, where everybody came over to wish us best of luck and good health together. Also telling me what a great and nice dad I had, helping many survivors get back on their feet and helping them overcome their illness. After things quieted down a little, dad revealed to me that he was in touch with an uncle Abe Cohen and his sister, Florence Raphael in America telling them the story of the entire tragedy that took place to all our people and to our entire family in particular.Their immediate answer was that they will try at once to work out legal papers to bring him to the U.S. In the interim I came into the picture, dad notified our family again of our survival and answered us at once that we will both receive papers to come to the U.S together. In the meantime they helped us financially since it will still take 2 to 3 months to get the immigration papers to leave. Applications for immigration papers were filed in the hundreds of thousands, therefore the U.S government set up a quota system for different nationalities, so that everyone had a chance to come to the U.S. We were also notified by our family in the states that the reason why it will take between 2 and 3 months not years, was because our uncle was able to apply for 2 visas for my father to come as a Rabbi to a Yeshiva to teach, and for myself as a Yeshiva student. My uncle gave a lot of charity throughout the years supporting the Yeshiva, he was also a top officer and vice president of that school. As time went on my father worked daily for this medical center, and I had a chance to make friends with others in camp. One day I found out that the IRGUN, a separate division of the Israeli military operated in Italy and in other countries in Europe, to gather all the survivors who wanted to go and settle in Israel and be afforded with financial aid to start a new life. As a result many thousands volunteered to take part in the Exodus. Most of them were brought into Italy, stationed in the outskirts of Naples in temporary basis to stand by for the ships that arrive from various places in the world, fully equipped with all kinds of amenities that were provided by this special division, to fully accommodate this mass Exodus to Israel for some time without any interference what so ever. I joined this special division with many others after getting acquainted with their worthy undertaking. We got into some very serious problems to overcome with the British Navy?s interference with more ships full of people heading toward Israel by sea. A lot has happened which I cannot go into at present, for various reasons. In the meantime I tried to spend as much time with my father as possible. We were able to discuss any topic in the world, except our former family, and the barbaric Hitler years. Since my father would break down to such a bad state, he would get severely sick from, crying out loud and not be able to stop. I was always trying to be on his side no matter what and tell him how much I loved and cared for him.
Sailing to the Greatest Country in the World, the Beautiful U.S.A
Our time to go the U.S finally came. We got a notice in the D.P camp from the U.S immigration giving us a sailing date on the Marine Shark (a navy ship) but we must get clearance by registering at the immigration department in Rome at least 1 week before sailing, have pictures ready for the passports as well as notarizing the enclosed papers. We followed up with all the above to be ready to leave on time. Our departure date was 4-28-47. A day before departing from D.P camp we said goodbye to all our friends and the entire staff as well. We also went to the medical center, thanking all the doctors and nurses for all their assistance extended to all the survivors under their care. They will always be remembered for their good deed and hard work. Kisses and best wishes to you all, and May God Bless You. We decided to leave for Rome 2 days before boarding the ship, in order to do some gift shopping there for dad?s uncles and aunts in appreciation for all the financial help extended to us through out the time in Italy. We checked into a small hotel in the city. Next day we started to do our shopping for our family in the states whom we never met before. Bought some Borcalina hats and silk scarves for our uncles as well as wristwatches and leather gloves for the aunts. Packed all very neatly into a large piece of luggage with outmost care not to crease. Did a little sight seeing in Rome, a very beautiful city like no other in the world. The day of departure we took our belongings to the pier by cab to board the ship. We were assigned to a bunk in a small room, since we never before have had this opportunity we did not know any better and took it for granted that this is great!!!
Before we had any chance to get organized the ship started pulling away from the pier into the deep far away sea. The voyage started, the waves came at us from all directions like walls of water. Before you know it the rocking of the boat started at a pretty fast pace. Could not stand, could not sit, falling off the chairs from all the rocking. Getting very dizzy, we decided it would be best to get into bed and hold on to the side frames for caution. Pretty cool, I hope to enjoy this sailing. Well it remains to be seen. The sailing lasted about 9 days. It was a true miracle to have made it safe. Just as we got into bed, on the first day, that is how it lasted throughout the journey until the end, all in bed. Consuming very little food and water, since we both felt nauseous from the rocking of the boat. Thank God we finally made it, came into the harbor of Ellis Island, took our luggage to line up for inspection. Before we knew it a tall elderly man and his wife were holding up a large white sign printed the Glogovers. We raised our hands and said in Yiddish,? Here we are!!!? Greeted each other with kisses and tears. Before you know it we were made to open up our luggage for inspection. A middle-aged man comes over bends down to the floor and starts searching inside the open luggage, our uncle remarks to us if we are Kosher. The man searching picks up his head and says in Yiddish am I looking? With a question mark. I could not stop laughing and feeling happier. This could only happen in America, the country of liberty, justice and opportunity for all. After the searching was over we closed up all 3 suitcases and proceeded on our way out. Our uncle Cohen brings his car over, we put the suitcases in the trunk and the 4 of us including our aunt Florence go into the car and left to the home of another aunt, Dora,and uncle, Sam. There some other family members waited to meet us and got acquainted. It certainly was a cheerful occasion with a little sadness to be detected in their eyes.