Furst Brothers    BRATIA FÜRST


Naftali’s Story

When I entered the hospital, everything seemed blurry, but I was conscious. Physically ill and mentally depressed I was laid on a bunk. I was left alone.

I saw people who took cold shower and ate strange food. I felt that something out of the ordinary was happening. Afterwards I learned that the evacuation of Buchenwald had begun, but there were rumors that the sick would remain in the camp. Therefore, those who already recovered from their illness wished to return to the status of sick persons. To achieve that, they ate those strange things I saw…

My illness was severe. A Polish student, who also supported me morally, treated me. I do not remember Shmuel’s visit, of which I heard after the war.

When I understood that the camp was going to be evacuated, I feared that I was near my end. A few days later, as my health improved, we were told that some of the sick – I was to be among them – would move to the Bordell. Having remembered from my childhood that Bordell meant disorder and mess, I asked what its actual connotation was.

On the next day, our group walked over to that place. Two beautiful well dressed women with a makeup stood at the entrance. I got scared; after all, that was not an ordinary sight in a death camp. I thought that some experiments would be carried out on us.

Upon entering the barrack, I heard them say in German: “What a handsome boy! Too bad he is so young!” I could not perceive their intentions.

Inside, there were carpets and furniture, like in any normal home. Actually, it was a whorehouse, which functioned amidst the Buchenwald camp. The authorities probably wished to camouflage it, by placing children among its other occupants.

In one of the halls, mattresses were prepared for us on the floor, and so began my adjustment to living in a Bordell.

The women liked me. They explained the nature of activities that take place in the barrack, and told me about the workroom and the bedroom.

I got a worn-out red pajama with color strips. I began recovering from my illness and felt much better. However, some time thereafter the doctors suspected that I had water in my lungs. One of them inserted a gigantic syringe needle between my ribs, in order to draw the liquids out of my lungs. It was very painful, but there was no water coming out. I fondly remember how one of the nurses – most likely a whore – hugged me and comforted me. All in all, the attitude to me was outstanding. Food was wonderful, and I even received chocolate and cakes. Suddenly, I was elevated from hell to paradise.

I collected beneath my pillow all kinds of food and goodies for Shmuel. We were isolated from the outside world, and knew nothing about it. In reality, the American troops moved forward in the direction of Buchenwald, and the Germans were preparing to evacuate the camp, including the whorehouse. I noticed that the women around me started packing and were ready to leave. There were no more visits of Germans in the barrack.

In the morning hours of April 11, 1945 we began hearing sound of artillery. While the frontline drew nearer and nearer, the underground rose up. On that very day Buchenwald was liberated. And where was I liberated? In the Buchenwald whorehouse! Not every twelve-year old child had such a privilege…

Right upon breathing the air of freedom, I started looking for Shmuel. I met people who knew him; they told me, to my great sorrow, that just a day before he was forced to go on a journey, which for him became one of the cruelest and hardest. Having hoped to meet Shmuel and hand over to him all the goodies I kept for him, I was very disappointed. I was left all alone in liberated Buchenwald.

The Americans who freed Buchenwald revealed and documented the atrocities they witnessed.

During the first days of freedom, there was a lot of disorder. As we were not allowed to leave the camp, we strolled aimlessly from one barrack to another. Then we went to see the crematorium and the torture cells, and finally we opened the clothes warehouse. There we wore S.S. uniforms.

It did not take long until we were organized in groups according to our countries of origin. Among the organizers was a man who pretended to be the brother of general Viest, a Slovak hero. He took care of the Czechoslovak group, which a fortnight later was taken by trucks into Czechoslovakia. Upon our arrival in Bratislava, we were welcomed by the Jewish community, which was already functioning.

The first thing I did was an attempt to find out who survived. I was told that so far there was no information on my family, and I was the first one to have returned. Officials of the community suggested that I go to uncle Andor in Nove Mesto. They gave me money to pay the fare. On the train someone recognized me, and said that uncle Arpad and aunt Lili were in Piešťany, some thirty kilometers closer than Nové Mesto. I left the train in Piešťany and walked to the point at which the Gardists took hold of me. I knocked on the door and said: “Here I am!” I informed them briefly on myself and told them all I knew of the rest of the family. At the time of my visit, we did not hear from them yet. My uncle and aunt were happy to have had me with them, but the absence of mom, dad, and Shmuel was of great concern to all of us.

After several weeks, the Prague hospital informed us that Shmuel survived, but his serious illness required a long treatment in that hospital. Another good news came for people in Piešťany who heard over the radio that mom was liberated in the Lippstadt camp, and a few days later we were glad to have heard on the liberation of our dad, who also was due to return soon.

I traveled to the Formánek family in Bratislava, whose home on 8 Šuleková Street was set as our family’s meeting place. Upon my arrival, dad was already there, and mom came in a few hours later. We were again together, happy and in high spirits. It is hard to depict the wonderful feeling of seeing again my parents. Could anything be more exciting and joyful than that?! Our happiness knew no limits, but we still missed Shmuel.