Beginning of the Following Sorrowful Story
by John Knodel
Lehigh Acres, Florida
39 pages translation by his granddaughter
Knodel Family 1942
following story is being transcribed from Hungarian
to German from a daybook that I had kept during my
33 month, 1000 day, imprisonment in Russia. (In
2002, his granddaughter, Gerti, translated it into
is a sorrowful story full of indescribable pain and
human suffering that only a person who himself went
through similar suffering, could fully understand.
story is not fiction, it is rather a true story of
what happened to me while a forced laborer in
Russia. We were captured and forced into slave
labor in order to re-build what had been destroyed
in Russia during the war (World War II). The
Russians enslaved millions of people.
was imprisoned in the south Ukraine, between
Donetz and the
river Don, about four
kilometers from the city of Lisicsansk, in
the Donbass industrial region.
(Approximately at 48 degree latitude and between
38/40 degree longitude, in the Donets coal
basin, Ukraine) Everywhere around us were
coal mines. In our vicinity, there were over a
hundred thousand slaves, most of which had to work
in the coal mines. Others also worked as slave
laborers in the building trades and worked on
Along with others from my hometown, I was forced to
work at a coal mine. We had to walk 4 kilometers to
start a new coal mine. Andreas Vejtei, Heinrich
Schneider and five more neighbors from Hungary,
and myself, were together.
Russians made me a carpenter (in Hungary, he owned a
building supply store). There was a good old
Russian, Ingenhor, who tried to help us as he could.
made the measurements for the wooden frames that
were made to fit inside the mine shaft. The first
coal mine was 60 meters deep, the second coal mine
was 110 meters deep. The work was very hard and
exhausting. The work was split up into three
our camp, there were 900 young women from Romania,
who were of German descent, 1,600 people, most men,
from Hungary, and over 2,000 men from Ober-Schlesien. In the beginning, most of the
people from Romania and Schlesien
died, then us Hungarians. They died cruel deaths
from starvation and cold, freezing conditions. It
was the hardest on the coal miners, as they didn’t
have any way of working/trading their skills to earn
additional food to keep them alive. By October of
1945, they were replacing the dead with young
1945 – the Russians entered Hungary and took
control of the country. As part of war reparations,
the Russians raped the country, stripping it of it’s
machinery, raw materials and it’s citizens. Over
600,000 Hungarian citizens were abducted by the
Russians and made slave laborers. Everything went
to Stalin’s Russia.)
was a Sunday, January 21st, 1945. The
Russians came into our village,
miles south of Budapest, Hungary, on the Danube river) and took another group of people
away with them, 22 men and 3 women, myself
included. In six horse-driven sleighs we were
driven 30 kilometers to Soltwatkert – and
overnighted there at a farm. During the night, two
men took off and the Russians let one woman go
free. The next day, January 22nd, we
were driven to Kiskunhalas (still Hungary),
underway, the Russians found the men who took off
and returned them to our group.
January 23rd, we were quartered in
a barrack – eight of us men were put together in one
room and heavily guarded. The only food we ate was
whatever food we had brought with us from home,
otherwise, you went hungry. We weren’t allowed to
sleep. Bathroom trips were only arranged with five
men at a time watched by two armed Russians.
So did the days go by
until the 28th of January, a
Sunday – the Russians brought five more men from
Harta. On Monday, the 29th of January,
the Russians brought four hundred more people to the
barracks. The next day,
they brought three hundred women from the Baja
(Hungary) area, now there were 1,600 prisoners
in the barrack. We were in the barrack for two more
days before our march to paradise.
February 1st, (Thursday) the
entire barrack prisoners were escorted to the train
station by heavily armed Russians. On the way to
the train station, two men who tried to escape were
shot to death by the Russians. The train car
separated us just like in cages, 54 people were
caged in the top portion of the car, and 54 people
caged in the bottom portion. Not only did we
prisoners shed many tears but tears were shed by our
loved ones back home, but it also rained “tears from
heaven” on us for two days.
February 2nd, 1945 (Friday)
Kelebia (Hungary), the Russians rounded us
prisoners up and stole anything and everything we
have of value – knives, shaving equipment, wallets,
mirrors and other personal items all stolen from
February 3rd, 1945 (Saturday) We’re
still on the train, waiting in Szabadka. (Subotica,
(Sunday) As the train began pulling out, three men
from our wagon ripped the wire grates from a window
and jumped out. The third man had a small box – he
threw it out of the window and then jumped himself.
It was then that the shooting started. The first
two men escaped, but they shot the third man dead
and kept his body for two days in our wagon. While
we were still in Szeged, the Russians warned
everyone that if anyone tries to escape, their
entire wagon car would also be punished. So, we
were punished. For two long days, we were denied a
drop of water. We were very thirsty. They buried
the third man in a shallow grave beside the railroad
February 5th, 1945 (Monday) The
train stood still in Temesvar (Timosoara,
Romania) while we watched hoards of Russian
soldiers with heavy weaponry travel past us, towards
February 6th, 1945 (Tuesday) In
February 7th, 1945 (Wednesday) In
February 8th, 1945 (Thursday) In
Simian, Romania. Here, a great deal of weaponry
was being stored.
February 9th, 1945 (Friday) We
traveled further east to Cerena-Bals.
February 10th, 1945 (Saturday) In the
city of Piatre-Olt (Piatra-Neamt, Romania).
Here they sent back half of the guards back to
battle in the slaughter fields of Slatina-Potcova.
February 11th, 1945 (Sunday)
Baranyes, Chitila. After two days, we were again
given water. Being thirsty is worse than being
hungry. In the morning, we arrived in Bucharest
(Romania). For the first time, the train took on
food and coals. Our spirits were pretty much broken
February 12th, 1945 (Monday) In
Braila (Romania), from here, we traveled over
the Szeret River in a northerly direction.
February 13th, 1945 (Tuesday) It is
Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday) but no Paprikash
and Doughnuts that we always had to celebrate back
home. Today everyone on the train only spoke about
their homes – about how good the Paprikash
would taste at home and about how good a glass of
wine would go with it.
February 14th, 1945 (Ash Wednesday)
In Jassi (Iasi, Romania). Here, for the
first time, we received a little sugar and salami.
Then we were transferred into Russian wagons. The
Russians hacked a small hole in the corner, this was
our toilet for 80 people.
February 15th, 1945 (Thursday) In
Kisinev (Kishinev), Besarabien (Bessarabia).
(Friday) We arrived in the Russian Ukraine.
It still had snow. I ate the last piece of bread
from home that I had so long spared. At two
o’clock, we traveled over the river Nyester in
February 17th, 1945 (Saturday) It
snowed a great deal. Today they removed Wendel
Endrodi from our wagon, as he was sick.
February 18th, 1945 (Sunday) We
continue to travel east in the Ukraine. The
landscape is wide open here.
February 19th, 1945 (Monday) More
towards the East over the Nyepfer (Dnepr River)
by Nyeppropetrosk (Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine).
Here it is very cold with snow. Today, we will not
receive anything to eat.
February 20th, 1945 (Tuesday) More
February 21st, 1945 (Wednesday) We
arrived in the town of Lisicsansk (possibly
Lugansk, Ukraine). Today is exactly one month
since we were made captive.
February 22nd, 1945 (Thursday) As of
today, it’s been three weeks of being on a train,
from Kiskunhalas to Lisicsansk, on the
river Donetz (Donats River, Ukraine). Here
we were made to depart the train and walk eight
kilometers to a broken down building with no doors
or windows. We were all made to bathe in cold,
stinking water – from our heads down to our toes.
We almost froze from the cold. Then we received no
food all day – finally a little food at midnight.
We were all finished from exhaustion and no food.
Then we had to march three kilometers to a camp.
The camp consisted of six large brick buildings,
each three stories high. The insides were not
finished; there was only a wood frame, but it had no
doors or windows.
February 23rd, 1945 (Friday) After a
22 day train ride, we finally arrived in our
paradise. It had three rows of barbwire fending,
three meters high – to keep us in captivity. There
were armed watchtowers all around, so that no one
could escape. Since January, they had already 450
prisoners here. They had already started to use the
wood to make doors and windows – and in the rooms –
to make bunk beds. The wood was green. The beds
were frozen and covered with ice. We had nothing,
no straw to make mattresses, nor blankets, nor
pillows to keep us warm. We were always freezing,
we always had colds and many of us had bad skin
rashes. The cuisine was watery cucumber soup and
two tablespoonfuls of cornmeal.
February 24th, 1945 (Saturday) Received
a small piece of Barley bread.
February 25th, 1945 (Sunday) Today we
were given some type of vaccination in our backside.
Andreas Vejtei, Heinrich Schneider and I – along
with nine others are put in one room. In the room
is an old stove that doesn’t work. We fixed it –
and with the wood we gathered, it provided a little
heat to keep us from freezing.
February 26th, 1945 (Monday) Today was
the first roundup in the camp by the Russians. They
stole all our Hungarian money, pocket mirrors,
wallets and anything else they took a fancy to.
February 27th, 1945
(Tuesday) We are
continuing to settle in. We dug a fifty-meter long
ditch for a toilet.
February 28th, 1945 (Wednesday) We made
our room orderly, cleaning it with lime. We
received glass for one window.
March 1st, 1945 (Thursday) We spent the
entire day repairing and fixing up the camp, bombs
and fire damage had ruined it. The roof has many
holes and the rain pours onto the third floor. The
weather is sunny today. Many people already have
head and body lice. The Russians all have lice.
March 2nd, 1945 (Friday) Always more of
the same – fixing and repairing.
March 3rd, 1945 (Saturday) Bathing,
shaving, clothing and room cleaning. We gathered
material to heat our stove with.
March 4th, 1945 (Sunday) Received orders
for who will do what jobs in the coal mine. Today
we received our second vaccination.
March 5th, 1945 (Monday) A strong
snowstorm. We’re preparing for the next mornings
work in the coal mine.
March 6th, 1945 (Tuesday) Today, it was
very cold. We were assigned to the Woroschilofka
March 7th, 1945 (Wednesday) Still
working in the camp. Lots of snow and very cold.
March 8th, 1945 (Thursday) Today they
burned the clothes of 24 women. They had to stay in
the freezing cold camp for three days with no
clothes until the Russians got them clothing.
March 9th, 1945 (Friday) Still cold.
Today the Russians made us move from the room we’ve
spent so much time fixing up into an awful, dirty
room. We had to sleep on the dirty floor for two
days before they gave us bunk beds.
March 10th, 1945 (Saturday) More stormy,
cold weather. Today, no bread – only twice, Cabbage
March 11th, 1945 (Sunday) Today we
received bread to eat and instead of Cabbage Soup,
March 12th, 1945 (Monday) We had to
retrieve our food from a snow mound – they threw it
there, instead of bringing it to our camp. They
feed us minimal food, it makes us so weak, and we
are as hungry as wolves. We think only of eating.
March 13th, 1945 (Tuesday) This morning
at 7 a.m., 71 men and 30 women walked 4 kilometers
in deep snow to the coal mine. They divided us up
into three shifts, I received the third shift.
Everyone received 100 Rubles (Russian currency). As
of today, we just pay for our food.
March 14th, 1945 (Wednesday) Again, they
stuck us in another dirty room on the second floor.
It looked miserable. We made the mistake of
cleaning and fixing up our two previous rooms, so
now they expect more. We buried three Romanians
today; they only lasted two months from the
malnutrition of only cabbage and cucumber soup.
March 15th, 1945 (Thursday) Today is
Hungary’s Independence Day. It was our first day of
forced labor in the coalmine. At 5 a.m., we
received a small portion of cabbage soup (no bread),
and were forced to walk 4 kilometers to the
coalmine. After working 8 hours without any food,
we were forced to march back to the camp. We
received more cabbage soup and three tablespoonfuls
of cornmeal as supper. Twice a day, everything the
March 16th, 1945 (Friday) The weather is
warming up a bit. Today we had 14 men drive 2
kilometers with a sled to bring wood to the
coalmine; it was very hard work. Andreas Vejtei and
I bought 2 deci grams of cornmeal and we cooked it
that night. With only the camp food, most people get
weak and dizzy from hunger. Today Ingenohr (Russian
Guard) told me that Andreas Vejtei and myself would
be doing woodworking from now on, instead of
March 17th, 1945 (Saturday) Me and 20
men brought heavy Oak tree stumps 1 kilometer from
the train station to the coalmine on sleds.
March 18th, 1945 (Sunday) Worked with
the circular saw. They gave me an extra food coupon
for my good work. I ate a double meal in the
evening, but it didn’t fill me up, I’m still very
March 19th, 1945 (Monday) Today, again
19 men pulled heavy lumber to the coal mine. We
were like oxen, pulling wood the entire day.
March 20th, 1945 (Tuesday) Today I sold
a piece of soap for 40 Rubles – I bought some food
with it, but I’m still always hungry.
March 21st, 1945 (Wednesday) It’s been
two months today that we were taken from our homes.
We received our third immunization today, probably
so that we won’t feel our hunger. The cucumber and
cabbage soup is too thin to be nourishing. As of
today, I am the carpenter and foreman of the
circular saw. We are now making the frames for the
new coalmine. I have asked that A. Vejtei, H.
Schneider, a man from Vaskut, a man from
Csaszartoltes and a man from Soltvadkert work with
March 22nd, 1945 (Thursday) Our group
has started to dig two coalmines. We are now making
oak frames 3 ˝ meters long and 2 ˝ meters wide. An
old Russian, Ingenohr is too bossy and tells us how
we should make the frames. As of today, we received
a card for upgraded food, which means we get two
tablespoonfuls more water in our soup.
March 23rd, 1945 (Friday) The snow is
starting to melt a little. You receive pay
according to your job. If you work in the coal
mine, you receive 300 rubles a month. We receive
200 rubles monthly; the other works receive 150
rubles. The twice day soup costs 5 rubles a day (5
rubles daily times 30 days = 150 rubles a month in
March 24th, 1945 (Saturday) The weather
is cloudy. I worked on the circular saw today; it’s
about 100 meters from the pit. There is no roof or
any type of protection from the weather. Today,
another man died. In the evening, A. Vejtei and I
cooked cornmeal, we are always hungry. The cabbage
soap has no sustenance; it’s mostly water.
March 25th, 1945 (Sunday) Sawed heavy
pieces of wood today. I bought from the bazaar 2 deci liters of Beans and 2 of cornmeal. My hunger
March 26th, 1945 (Monday) Today, I
assembled heavy oak frames for the coal mine shaft.
In exchange for wood scraps, I received some
cornmeal from a Russian, which I cooked that night.
The cabbage soup is too thin; it will not satisfy my
March 27th, 1945
(Tuesday) Today, 2,100
men for OberSchlesien (Was part of Prussia, Germany,
now part of Poland) were brought to our forced
labor camp. They are already weak from hunger, but
have good clothing and underwear. They traded their
clothes for food.
March 28th, 1945 (Wednesday) In exchange
for wood scraps, I received potatoes from a
Russian. We cooked the potatoes in the evening and
we able to sleep better because of the food.
March 29th, 1945 (Thursday) Today again
3 are dead, one from Scepel and two from Romania.
In exchange for tobacco, I received bread and ate it
March 30th, 1945 (Friday) Today is Good
Friday; it’s very cold and windy. We are still
working out in the cold. Our thoughts were on what
was going on with our families at home – what they
were eating and even if they were all still safe and
sound at home.
March 31st, 1945 (Saturday) Cloudy,
windy weather. More people are dying. Hundreds are
sick, I have diarrhea from the cabbage soup. The
dead are being stored in a chamber full of lime.
Every night, they are buried 200 meters from the
camp, their clothes are removed and then their
bodies are thrown into a mass shallow grave, without
the dignity of a casket. Ingenohr gave me tomorrow,
East Sunday, off. In exchange for wood scraps, I
received beans and cornmeal and will add it to my
April 1st, 1945 (Easter Sunday) It is
now ten weeks since the Russians took us captive. I
have a free day today. To celebrate Easter, I
cooked potatoes without any meat and ate it with my
cabbage soup. My thoughts were only on home today,
I hope they are okay. Here, it gets worse day by
day. More and more people are getting sick and
dying. The Russians have told us that we must work
here until we all die. It looks that way!
April 2nd, 1945 (Monday) Now the hardest
work goes on at the coalmine. Above the mine shaft
are two huge cogwheels, which 18 – 20 women must
pull, as each cogwheel goes into the shaft, they are
filled with dirt by the men inside, then the women
must pull the filled containers back to the ground
again. Just like you’ve seen in pictures of China,
where they still operate like in the middle Ages,
it’s the same way here. The yelling goes on
endlessly, the Russians screaming “Davaj” (Hurry)
and “Bistra!” (Faster). It is still very cold
here. When the ground thaws out a bit during the
day, the women get their shoes stuck in the mud.
They have to bind wire around their shoes in order
to work. Every day, more people are getting sick
and can’t go to work. Every day, people die. I am
only writing about the people in our coalmine. In
this whole camp, 4,600 people are imprisoned and
have to work in eight different coalmines.
April 3rd, 1945 (Tuesday) A cold icy
wind continues to blow all spring, it is still
bringing snow from the east.
April 4th, 1945 (Wednesday) I traded
tobacco for a shirt, which I promptly sold for 170
rubles. I bought food with the money; 1 kilo of
bread cost 25 rubles, 1 liter of milk cost 20, 5
eggs cost 25, 2 deci-gram sugar for 35 rubles, 2
deci-gram salt for 16 rubles, 4 deci-gram beans for
10 rubles and 4 deci-gram of cornmeal for 8 rubles,
which altogether cost me 139 rubles. This will help
keep me with nightly dinners for 1 – 2 weeks, to
help satisfy my hunger.
April 5th, 1945 (Thursday) The Russians
gave us all a green jacket and pants Most of us,
including myself, sold them at the bazaar in order
to get food – we are so hungry.
April 6th, 1945 (Friday) We continue to
work hard making the frames. The shaft keeps on
getting deeper; soon the entire mountain will be
excavated. It is still very cold.
April 7th, 1945 (Saturday) We were made
to march to the mines by armed women today! They
are like amazons; they hit people who walk too
slowly, due to lack of proper nourishment.
April 8th, 1945 (Sunday) Today I asked Ingenohr for my Godfather to work with me. Janos
Kaszt is so weak that he can barely walk.
April 9th, 1945 (Monday) The prisoners
from OberSchlesia were all assigned to the older
coalmine, they are dying daily. They were already
weak and malnourished before they even came here.
April 10th, 1945
(Tuesday) It will never
get warm here. The Russians tells us to work faster
– then we won’t freeze.
April 11th, 1945 (Wednesday) We continue
to sleep on the bare planks of the bunk beds, with
only our clothes to keep us warm. Many people have
skin rashes all over their bodies. There is only
one nurse here; she only has a thermometer – no
medicine – no bandages – nothing to help the sick.
Those with 41-Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit)
fever don’t have to go to work.
April 12th, 1945 (Thursday) The snow is
slowly melting. I wish it would finally get warmer,
so that we won’t have to keep suffering from the
cold – we have enough suffering already.
April 13th, 1945 (Friday) I sold a pair
of pants so that I could buy some food at the
bazaar. With only the food at the camp, no one can
survive. Every day, people die.
April 14th, 1945 (Saturday) They are
constantly pushing us to work harder, it is crazy.
We continue to build frames, which go deeper and
deeper into the mine.
April 15th, 1945 (Sunday) Snow again
today! I had a 41-degree fever (105.8 Fahrenheit),
so I stayed in the camp today. I lay in my bed all
day. By the evening, my fever had gone down to 39
(102.2 Fahrenheit), so I’ll have to return to the
mine and work tomorrow.
April 16th, 1945 (Monday) When Ingenohr
returned from lunch at home today, he brought me a
piece of cornbread and two potatoes – to help me get
April 17th, 1945 (Tuesday) The only help
for a fever here is a cold compress. If that
doesn’t help, then they’ll put you in the lye
chamber and then bury you in the grave, where many
are already resting. A man’s life here is only
worth that of a fly. They are determined to let us
starve to death – that’s what they always say!
April 18th, 1945 (Wednesday) Today is my
daughter, Christine’s birthday. She is 8 years
old. I thought of home the entire day. I had a
free day today, so I washed and repaired my pants.
A roommate, from Hajos (Hungary), died today. In
the evening, they buried four men.
April 19th, 1945 (Thursday) They won’t
even let you rest at the end of the workday in the
camp, there is always something that has to be
fixed. We walked 1 – 2 kilometers to retrieve
re-usable building materials from destroyed
buildings for the camp.
April 20th, 1945 (Friday) My hunger is
so strong. There is only saltwater in the cucumber
soup. The bread they give us is half full of
inedible weeds. Three men died today.
April 21st, 1945
(Saturday) Some days,
it’s not so cold. In exchange for excess wood
scraps, the Russians give me food – it helps a
little bit. The people who work in the mines can’t
do anything on the side, so they end up dying
April 22nd, 1945 (Sunday) We were sent
to another building in the camp today, it even has a
different kitchen. Now we have to fix up this place
on our only day off. What a Sunday!
April 23rd, 1945 (Monday) For the second
time, I stayed in the camp sick, but was not allowed
to rest, I had to nail together tables and chairs.
For my efforts, I received a bowl of saltwater
April 24th, 1945 (Tuesday) Still sick in
the camp. I washed my clothes and repaired my
April 25th, 1945 (Wednesday) My day
off. Had to work again in the kitchen, I made
tables and benches out of old wood.
April 26th, 1945 (Thursday) Back to the
coal mine. They were waiting on me to return, as
they are desperate for more frames. Today we
finally received our pay; it was high time, as we
had all run out of money to pay for our meals. They
want us all to starve.
April 27th, 1945 (Friday) Ingenohr gave
us all 6 meal cards for the kitchen – since we had
to work so hard to make the frames they are in
desperate need of.
April 28th, 1945 (Saturday) The Russians
are just crazy, they keep on pushing us even though
we are so weak from hunger. Every day people die
while working or marching to the mines.
April 29th, 1945 (Sunday) “Razzia”
(roundup) again! The Russians took whatever they
wanted from us.
April 30th, 1945 (Monday) The Russians
are acting crazy – as they are excited that tomorrow
is May 1st!
1st, 1945 (Tuesday) The Russians got
drunk today on vodka and rode around in trucks and
sang songs like crazy men. But we prisoners had to
work today. The Russians said the coal is for the
Red Army, that’s why they received the vodka.
2nd, 1945 (Wednesday) The Russians were
all sick today from drinking too much yesterday. We
only received cucumber soup today. Every day, 2 – 3
people die here.
3rd, 1945 (Thursday) The Russian
residents here are beginning to plant their
gardens. The ground is as black as the night and
4th, 1945 (Friday) We ate some oily
cakes from the bazaar, even though they’re bad for
your stomach, we are so hungry.
5th, 1945 (Saturday) The weather is
slowly getting nicer, but my hunger is getting
worse. Not a day goes by that 2 – 3 people die
6th, 1945 (Sunday) In exchange for scrap
wood, the Russians usually give me food or sometimes
even money so that I can buy whatever food I want at
the bazaar. My only thoughts are on food, then on
7th, 1945 (Monday) I sold my pillow from
home for 200 rubles and bought some food. My hunger
never leaves me day or night. Our monthly pay is
only 180 – 220 rubles, which is not enough to even
pay for our lousy camp meals of watery soup.
8th, 1945 (Tuesday) We don’t know what
the matter is, but the Russians are pushing us
harder and harder to work.
9th, 1945 (Wednesday) My day off.
Around afternoon, everything went crazy, the
Russians told us that the war had ended, Berlin fell
and Hitler is dead! I cooked a few potatoes and ate
them with my cucumber soup. Many of us prisoners
are saying that we’ll soon be going home. (Hitler
committed suicide on April 30th, the
Germans officially surrendered on May 7th)
10th, 1945 (Thursday) There will be no
more days off, as the Russians said that in the
short time we’d be here, we’ll have to work hard.
Some people believe them, but others say to only
wait – as they’ve lied to us often.
11th, 1945 (Friday) It only took two
days for them to change their story. Now we have to
wait until everything is built up again in Russia
before we can go home. Now everyone here realizes
the hopelessness of our situation.
12th, 1945 (Saturday) I sold a blanket
that I had brought from home for 350 rubles. I
bought some food at the bazaar. Many people lie in
their beds sick and can’t ever return to work.
Every day, these sick hungry people end their
suffering by dying. Eternal peace.
13th, 1945 (Sunday) I bought 1 liter of
milk for 20 rubles and promptly drank all of it. I
also bought 20 potatoes for 20 rubles and cooked
them in the evening. We have headaches and are very
dizzy from the lack of food.
14th, 1945 (Monday) We are pushed to
work harder to make the oak frames for the mine. In
the camp, there are so many people who lie in their
beds; they will never be able to return to work.
15th, 1945 (Tuesday) The Russians sent
many sick and injured people, who can’t work anymore
to Kolchoss, where there is easier work.
16th, 1945 (Wednesday) Even though it
was my free day; I still had to work in the camp
making doors and windows. I just want to scream at
how badly they treat us.
17th, 1945 (Thursday) One of our
countrymen from Csepel/Budapest, died today. Just
about everyone has severe body rashes and open
wounds. There is no medicine to treat us, what
doesn’t heal on it’s own will cause our deaths.
Many people’s teeth are falling out.
18th, 1945 (Friday) No more talk about
going home. The work goes on even though we are all
very weak. The food I get in exchange for wood
scraps helps me a great deal. Andreas Vejtei and I
work together and cook together, when we have extra
food. We are trying to hold on as long as we can.
Perhaps one day, we’ll be freed from this paradise.
19th, 1945 (Saturday) “Razzia” (roundup)
again! They stole our mirrors, scissors, etc. We
cannot defend ourselves.
20th, 1945 (Sunday) Pentecost – we
received 4 pieces of a honey cake in the camp today;
we had to pay 2 rubles extra for it. It tasted
good, as we only have cabbage or cucumber soup.
Even though today is a holiday, we had to work.
Even the sick were made to work today. They make us
work twice as hard on holidays.
21st, 1945 (Monday) Pentecost Monday –
we talked only of the special cake that’s served on
this day at home. It’s been four months since we’ve
been imprisoned. They are driving us crazy with
work. Every day, they yell “bistra” (faster).
22nd, 1945 (Tuesday) I sold a hand towel
and a wool jacket for 80 rubles. I bought cornmeal,
sugar and four eggs at the bazaar for the money. I
cooked half of everything and ate it right away.
Every day, more people are dying, most from Romania
and the Schlesier.
23rd, 1945 (Wednesday) With the camp
food alone, you can only starve. So many people are
sick in the camp; they can’t go back to work.
24th, 1945 (Thursday) A strong wind and
rain all day today – we still had to work in the
heavy rain, with no covering to protect us. My wet
clothes kept on tugging at my body rash; it hurts
and makes the rash worse by opening up raw sores.
25th, 1945 (Friday) The outlook is
bleak. If they don’t start feeding us more and give
us better food, we’ll all die.
26th, 1945 (Saturday) In the four months
of our imprisonment, we received our first ever
noodle soup today. I was sick the whole day with
stomach pains, but I still had to work. So many of
the others are too sick and weak to work.
27th, 1945 (Sunday) Another rumor went
around today about going home, if it continues the
same way it has, then our only hope of going home
will be to the hole they bury the dead in. No day
goes by that people don’t die here.
28th, 1945 (Monday) After two days of
heavy stomach pains, I begged a Russian to bring me
tea and 6 pieces of bread from home. I had to pay
him 35 rubles. After two days of not eating the
cabbage soup, I was better.
29th, 1945 (Tuesday) A lot of people are
dying from diarrhea and stomach cramps.
30th, 1945 (Wednesday) My day off. I
went to the nurse and asked for medicine for my
stomach cramps, she told me there was no medicine;
that I should eat dry bread. I told her they only
feed us cucumber and cabbage soup, no bread. She
told me that it wasn’t her problem.
31st, 1945 (Thursday) I was sick and
stayed in the camp today, as my fever was over 41
degrees (105.8 Fahrenheit). Andreas Vejtei bought
me bread and tea from the bazaar for 40 rubles. I
didn’t eat their soup.
June 1st, 1945 (Friday) They made me go
to work today even though I am still sick. At noon, Ingehohr wrote me a pass so I could go back to the
camp. On the way back, I bought 6 eggs and cornmeal
from the bazaar. I’m cooking it now. I’m not
eating their soup, only dry food for a few days.
They work us all until we’re dead.
June 2nd, 1945 (Saturday) Only heaven
knows our suffering here. So many people are sick
and can’t work.
June 3rd, 1945 (Sunday) I’m still
sick. They’re making me work tomorrow, but I’m so
sick and weak that I can barely walk. I’ve got more
sores/abscess on my body now, they hurt like crazy.
The sore under my arm broke and it’s very painful.
We’re all going to end up dying here. It will be a
miracle if anyone ever sees home again.
June 4th, 1945 (Monday) I had to work
today even though I’m in great pain and very weak.
June 5th, 1945 (Tuesday) I sold a
Russian jacket and bought potatoes at the bazaar.
With only the camp food, you’ll starve. Sometimes Ingehohr brings me a little food from his home after
June 6th, 1945 (Wednesday) We’ve been
here over four months and we still haven’t gotten
any mattresses or blankets. The bugs won’t let you
sleep at night.
June 7th, 1945 (Thursday) I sold my
pants at the bazaar for 150 rubles in order to buy
food. Those that can’t get money for food are
merely shadows of their old selves. Every day,
people are going into eternity.
June 8th, 1945 (Friday) The people who
work in the coal mine every day can’t even wash
themselves; as there is no bathing facility here.
Now they are finally building a cleaning facility so
that clothing can be washed.
June 9th, 1945 (Saturday) The food is
always terrible and so meager, you could go crazy
from hunger. From the original 4,600 prisoners, many
have already died. They are replacing them with
Russians. Everything is hopeless; more and more of
us are dying.
June 10th, 1945 (Sunday) The weather is
warm. The work goes on here like crazy; the shaft
keeps getting dug deeper and deeper. It is now 60
meters deep, but they still haven’t gotten any coal
June 11th, 1945 (Monday) At the mine, Russian
women are selling eggs and milk; I bought both for
25 rubles to help ease my insatiable hunger. It is
a crime what they are doing to us.
June 12th, 1945 (Tuesday) Today, a man
from Hajos injured himself in the mine and ended up
dead. Another prisoner committed suicide by jumping
from the third floor of the camp. He also had three
children at home. (John Knodel himself had three
June 13th, 1945 (Wednesday) Sold a shirt
and a towel for 250 rubles today in order to buy
beans and cornmeal at the bazaar. Selling my
clothing has helped me survive.
June 14th, 1945 (Thursday) For the first
time in five months of captivity, we were allowed to
bathe today. The facility is much too small for all
4,000 of us captives; there is a line of people
waiting day and night in order to bathe. In our camp
section, four more people died. A woman from
Romania, a man from the Bacska and two from
June 15th, 1945 (Friday) I traded a pair
of socks for potatoes and cornmeal today; my hunger
is so great. I suffer from constant headaches and
June 16th, 1945 (Saturday) Two more men
died from our section; one from Csepel and one from
Vaskut. (both in Hungary)
June 17th, 1945 (Sunday) There will be
no more days off, we all have to work every days,
seven days a week now. They say we are working too
slowly. We are going to have to work until we die.
A man hung himself in the camp today. Another man
in our section died. I am only writing about the
people around me who work in the same coalmine. Now
instead of 2 – 3 deaths daily, there are 5 – 6
June 18th, 1945 (Monday) The Amazonian
women armed guards continue to hit and stomp on the
people who are too sick and weak to walk on the way
to and from the coal mine.
June 19th, 1945 (Tuesday) The work
continues to go on like crazy; even though so many
lie in the camp, too weak to work. We can barely
maneuver the big oak trees to make the frames
anymore. We got two more men to work with us today.
June 20th, 1945 (Wednesday) We’re still
building frames. No coal yet from the mine.
June 21st, 1945 (Thursday) It’s been
five months today since the Russians captured us and
took us from our homes. It feels like an eternity
already. My hunger and the sores on my body are
driving me crazy. The sores are so itchy and hurt;
I don’t sleep at night.
June 22nd, 1945 (Friday) I still can’t
sleep from the sores on my back and legs. For the
first time ever, we received some antiseptic cream,
but it’s only enough to cover half the sores.
June 23rd, 1945 (Saturday) We’re still
making frames for the shaft, still no coals.
June 24th, 1945 (Sunday) Another rumor
about going home. With 6 – 7 people dying daily,
even if they released us, who would be left to go
June 25th, 1945 (Monday) I dreamt about
home last night and saw my father-in-law Grob and my
brother-in-law Heinrich (Heinrich was missing in
action, presumed dead during World War II, was never
heard from). I bought ˝ liter milk, 4 eggs and 2
pieces of cornbread for 38 rubles at the bazaar. I
promptly ate everything.
June 26th, 1945 (Tuesday) Those that are
too sick and weak to work anymore have been written
up and supposedly, they will be returned to their
June 27th, 1945 (Wednesday) Had to work
in the camp today to repair doors, windows, tables
June 28th, 1945 (Thursday) Today they
wrote up the names of the very sick and also took
the names of their parents and children. It’s only
a bluff. Every evening those who are buried are the
one who went home.
June 29th, 1945 (Friday) Today is Peter
and Paul day (Saints Day). At home, the harvest
will have started. Everything is still green here.
In honor or the day, we received two honey cakes
with our soup.
June 30th, 1945 (Saturday) It was so
cold and rainy today that we worked in our winter
clothes. The sores on my back and legs are so bad,
they drive me crazy. During the day, my pants rub
the sores raw, at the night, the sores hurt so much
that I can’t sleep. I also can’t sleep because I’m
hungry and have my doubts about whether I’ll ever
see my homeland and my family again. The future is
July 1st, 1945 (Monday) The camp food
quality continues to worsen. The soup they now cook
stinks and is bitter tasting. Every day, more
people get sick from it and die.
July 2nd, 1945 (Tuesday) The food has
never been as bad as it is now. People are falling
from starvation on the way to the mine, at the coal
mine and some on the way back to the camp.
July 3rd, 1945 (Wednesday) A man from Vaskut died today, he had one daughter and 200 acres
of farmland at home. Who will take care of his
fields and his daughter?
July 4th, 1945 (Thursday) A day off.
Today they brought back Lajos Nagy to the camp; he
had escaped and was gone for three weeks. The
Russians beat him severely and locked him in a
basement room for three weeks with only a small
piece of bread and 3 dezi-gram of water.
July 5th, 1945 (Friday) Three men and a
woman were buried today from our section. Every
day, 5 – 6 people go into eternity.
July 6th, 1945 (Saturday) After four
months of digging, coals were produced at 63 meters
deep. The Russians were very happy.
July 7th, 1945 (Sunday) The coals are
only one meter thick. Now they have to excavate 20
centimeter of stones so that the men can enter the
shaft on their hands and knees.
July 8th, 1945 (Monday) The coals are
now coming. They are bringing evergreen trees from
the forest, which we cut into 10-centimeter thick,
2-meter long lumber, with ten large posts for
July 9th, 1945 (Tuesday) Today was a
solar eclipse, it got very dark for a short time.
They are needing even more lumber for the mine.
July 10th, 1945 (Wednesday) Cloudy
weather. I’ve got a big sore/abscess on my right
knee that hurts so much. It’s hard to work.
July 11th, 1945 (Thursday) My day off.
I put a warm compress on my sore knee; the pain is
driving me crazy. There are still many sick in the
camp, they lay in the sun and some go to sleep into
July 12th, 1945 (Friday) I dreamt about
home again and saw my wife Kati and my daughter
Christine in my dream. I hope that I can see them
while I’m still living, but it doesn’t seem that
that will happen.
July 13th, 1945 (Saturday) They gave us
20 pieces of sugar cubes. Now we have to work 12
hours a day. They need a lot of lumber for the
mine. Two others died today by us.
July 14th, 1945 (Sunday) I am 38 years
old today. They made us work very hard today. The
old engineer often brings me food from his mid-day
meal. At night, I had a piece of bread with sugar.
July 15th, 1945 (Monday) Bought a liter
of milk and ˝ kilo of sour cherries for 20 rubles
and ate everything right away. My hunger is so
great that if I get food, I have to eat it right
July 16th, 1945 (Tuesday) We worked 12
hours today; they need the lumber so much. For our
efforts, we get a bowl of cabbage soup with a small
piece of bread in the morning. In the evening, we
get the same thing. What they feed us is not enough
to survive on.
July 17th, 1945 (Wednesday) We protested
today, we are weak and dizzy from hunger. They gave
us 6 small pieces of cornbread.
July 18th, 1945 (Thursday) My day off.
They made me work repairing doors and windows again
until the evening. I didn’t even have time to wash
July 19th, 1945 (Friday) Three men and a
woman went to eternity today. Now there is no talk
about going home. My sores are slowly healing, the
greatest pains have lessened.
July 20th, 1945 (Saturday) A huge
thunderstorm soaked us to the skin all day while
working. They keep on pushing us for more wood for
July 21st, 1945 (Sunday) Today marks 6
months, a half-year since we’ve been imprisoned. It
feels like it’s been a year. Always hungry, a
person could go crazy.
July 22nd, 1945 (Monday) It’s Heinrich
(his son) and Kato (his daughter) birthdays today.
Are they still living and still at home? I haven’t
heard from home.
July 23rd, 1945 (Tuesday) We unloaded
dynamite from the train station today, they need it
for the coalmine. In exchange for wood scraps, I
receive sometimes bread or potatoes from the
Russians at noontime. It helps.
July 24th, 1945 (Wednesday) Again two
more dead, one on the way to the mine and one died
in the camp. We’ll all die from the beet/turnip
July 25th, 1945 (Thursday) It was
supposed to be my day off, but they made me work
today making lumber for the mine. It rained all day
and soaked us through to the skin. We are weak and
dizzy and have constant headaches. It makes you
July 26th, 1945 (Friday) They are
pushing us like crazy at the mine. The people who
work in the mine come out so dark and dirty, you can
barely see them. The bathing opportunities are so
slim here that these people are constantly filthy.
They will die in their filth.
July 27th, 1945 (Saturday) Another dead
today. Many more are sick. If this keeps up, then
we will all slowly stay here for eternity.
July 28th, 1945 (Sunday) I sold a pair
of shoes for 300 rubles and bought cornmeal.
Andreas Vejtei and I cooked it that night in the
July 29th, 1945 (Monday) Two more people
died today, our numbers are dwindling. The
Romanians/Germans and Schlesier have the most dead.
Also, the Hungarians from Hajos, who drank a lot of
wine at home and some from the Budapest area are all
mostly in their final resting places.
July 30th, 1945 (Tuesday) They pushed us
extra hard today, they needed a lot of wood for the
mine. The whole day they yelled, “Davaja” and
“Bistra” (faster, hurry up!).
July 31st, 1945 (Wednesday) Now there is
no more talk about going home. By the time Russia’s
rebuilt, we’ll be dead. Every day, people die
August 1st, 1945 (Thursday) My day off.
I washed and mended my clothes. Everything is
turning into rags.
August 2nd, 1945 (Friday) I sold my
boots today at the bazaar for 450 rubles and bought
some food. You starve with only the camp food.
August 3rd, 1945 (Saturday) The second
mine is now also 110 meters deep, so we must also
provide wood for the second mine. We work in three
shifts; the mines require an enormous amount of
wood. Good black coals are the result of our
August 4th, 1945 (Sunday) It rained on us
the entire day, but we weren’t allowed to stop
working. My sores returned, my entire back and legs
are covered with open sores that hurt so much. The
sores hurt me day and night.
August 5th, 1945 (Monday) I cooked
cornmeal tonight to help alleviate my hunger pains.
On top of my sores, bugs at night won’t let me
August 6th, 1945 (Tuesday) The Russians
are saving the Oak trees for use in making streets,
so we have to use fir trees for the mines now.
August 7th, 1945 (Wednesday) So many
captives are lying sick in their beds. The beet and
cucumber soup gives everyone diarrhea. Most people
can’t even walk anymore.
August 8th, 1945 (Thursday) My open
sores hurt me so much that I’ll soon go crazy.
During the day, the open sores rub against my
clothing, at night, they won’t let me sleep. Today
was to be my day off, but they made me work at the
August 9th, 1945 (Friday) In the area,
rye and wheat are beginning to ripen, the harvest
will soon begin. We hope that after the harvest,
we’ll be getting better food than beet leaves and
August 10th, 1945 (Saturday) Ears are
growing on the corn. We’re eating whatever we can
find raw from the fields – corn, cabbage, carrots
August 11th, 1945 (Sunday) If you have
money, you can buy food at the bazaar. If you don’t
have money, you’ll starve from only the camp food.
August 12th, 1945
(Monday) I’ve been
sick for a few days already, but I still have to go
August 13th, 1945 (Tuesday) I was sick
in the camp today with a 41-degree (105.8
Fahrenheit) fever. To my further misfortune, I have
severe stomach cramps and diarrhea. I am very weak. Kathi (his wife) has her birthday today.
August 14th, 1945 (Wednesday) Still sick
with a 41-degree fever. A. Vejtei brought me
potatoes from the bazaar and cooked them for me. I
will only eat dry foods, no more soup from the
August 15th, 1945 (Thursday) I’m still
sick in the camp with a high fever and am very
weak. When you see all the sick people here who
can’t even walk, then you lose your hope of ever
August 16th, 1945 (Friday) My condition
worsens. I can barely walk, and am getting weaker.
They brought me eggs and sugar from the bazaar to
give me strength and help my stomach improve.
August 17th, 1945 (Saturday) I sold a
pair of pants for 200 rubles and bought eggs and
bread. I will only eat dry foods, no camp soup.
August 18th, 1945 (Sunday) My fever will
not go away. They brought me black tea from the
bazaar to drink instead of water. The sick here who
drink the camp water and eat the camp soup never get
August 19th, 1945 (Monday) A Vejtei
brought me eggs and a ˝ liter vodka from the
bazaar. Maybe this will help me.
August 20th, 1945 (Tuesday) The Russians
celebrated and danced today, as the war with Japan
is now also over. Back home in Hungary it’s St.
Stephan’s day, it was always a national holiday.
(Japan officially surrendered on September 2nd)
August 21st, 1945 (Wednesday) It’s been
seven months today since the Russians have sent us
to hell. Will any of us return home? I am still
August 22nd, 1945 (Thursday) I didn’t
get my full pay from the mine because I was so
August 23rd, 1945 (Friday) So many
people are sick here. They will slowly die of
starvation and malnutrition.
August 24th, 1945 (Saturday) My fever
has lessened and I feel a little better.
August 25th, 1945 (Sunday) The Russians
gave us underwear. I sold them right away for 150
rubles. I bought eggs, sugar and bread with the
money. I’m as hungry as a wolf.
August 26th, 1945 (Monday) I had only a
39-degree (102.2 Fahrenheit) fever last night. I
had to work at the mine today. I could barely
function from my weakness and barely made the march
back to the camp at night.
August 27th, 1945 (Tuesday) My fever
went back up to 41-degrees (105.8 Fahrenheit), so I
stayed in the camp. A roommate, Josef Knipl died
today, he had also been sick for a long time.
August 28th, 1945 (Wednesday) I sold
everything I could today to get money to buy me
food. Maybe the food will help me hang on and get
August 29th, 1945 (Thursday) My sores are
giving me great pain today. Everyone in the camp is
sick of the cabbage and cucumber soups.
August 30th, 1945 (Friday) The weather
is already changing. A chilly east wind is bringing
winter soon. Not many of us will be able to
survive; we all sold our winter clothing in order to
buy food to sustain us.
August 31st, 1945 (Saturday) We are
already afraid of the coming harsh winter here. The
war has ended; maybe they’ll let those left living,
September 1st, 1945 (Sunday) I worked at
the mine today, my fever was 39-degrees. The weather
was nice today. Every day, more people die on the
way to the mine, at the mine, or on the way back to
September 2nd, 1945 (Monday) I am still
very dizzy and weak, but have to work hard. The mine
is producing a lot of coal.
September 3rd, 1945 (Tuesday) a Romanian
and myself had to work repairing two houses near
here that were damaged in the war.
September 4th, 1945 (Wednesday) A
Russian working on the roof said that young Russians
who fought against Hitler would be coming here to
work in the mine.
September 5th, 1945 (Thursday) I am
feeling a little better. I am still as hungry as a
wolf. Every day, 3 –4 people die.
September 6th, 1945 (Friday) I bought a
plateful of cooked potatoes and two eggs from a
Russian today and ate it right away.
September 7th, 1945 (Saturday) A person
from Csepel/Budapest and a 19 year-old Romanian died
today. I received potatoes and plums in exchange
for scrap wood today. I cooked the potatoes with
cornmeal in the evening.
September 8th, 1945 (Sunday) The camp
food alone is not enough to sustain anyone.
September 9th, 1945 (Monday) We have to
make 300 bunk beds. The Russians put triple-thick
wire around the houses we fixed up. On top of the
fence, they put barbed wire.
September 10th, 1945 (Tuesday) The open
sores have multiplied and gotten worse. Now my
hands are also covered. There is no medicine. When
my clothes rub against the open sores, the pain is
so great – Ill go crazy.
September 11th, 1945 (Wednesday) It was
cold, cloudy and windy today. What will happen to
us if we’re still here this winter?
September 12th, 1945 (Thursday) I
finally got a day off today. I washed my clothes
and mended them as best as I could. This evening, I
had to help bury three people.
September 13th, 1945 (Friday) More and
more are dying. It is hopeless that anyone will
ever get to return home.
September 14th, 1945 (Saturday) Even
though the war is over and their harvest was good,
we are still only receiving watered down, salty,
terrible tasting soup. They still give us only
cabbage or cucumber soup.
September 15th, 1945 (Sunday) Most of
the bread they give us is half-full of inedible
unchaffed grain – it sticks like burrs in your
stomach and intestines.
September 16th, 1945 (Monday) Today we
built a huge rack at the mine 21 meters high. It’s
motorized and it pulls up the wagons full of coal
and then returns the wagons to the mine for more
September 17th, 1945 (Tuesday) We see a
lot of new things that they’ve stolen from Germany
here. Our workforce has dwindled due to
malnutrition and starvation. The Russians have also
sent some to other slave labor places.
September 18th, 1945 (Wednesday) Even
though we were soaked from working in a cold, heavy
rain all day today, they still pushed us, crying
“Davaj! Bistra!” (hurry, faster!). Most of us can
barely stand by ourselves.
September 19th, 1945 (Thursday) Now we
have malaria here! A lot of people have a very high
fever and the shivers. They are very sick. The
Russians said that for malaria, they’ll try and get
medicine – we’ll see if any comes before everyone
September 20th, 1945 (Friday) Malaria
got me! I have a 40-degree fever (105.8 Fahrenheit)
and am shaking. I am some times so hot that I feel
I’m burning up, and then get so cold that my whole
body and even my teeth are shaking. A third of our
camp is sick with Malaria and can’t work.
September 21st, 1945 (Saturday) It’s
been eight months today that we’ve been here. Two
Hungarian girls, 17 – 18 year olds died today. They
are replacing the captives who’ve died with
September 22nd, 1945 (Sunday) Relief!
The pills came today. We have to take 3 yellow
pills and 3 blue pills daily. The pills taste so
awful, some people won’t take them. I’ve been
taking the ones other people won’t take; perhaps
I’ll need them again.
September 23, 1945 (Monday) I’m still very sick
with malaria. Three more roommates died today. It
September 24th, 1945 (Tuesday) My fever
will not subside. I’m taking the pills as
prescribed every day. I’m amazed that I still live
to see another day.
September 25th, 1945 (Wednesday) My
roommates told me that I was talking in my sleep all
night. I said that I couldn’t stay here anymore,
that I must return home.
September 26th, 1945 (Thursday) I’m
feeling a little better today, the cold shivers
aren’t as bad. A. Vejtei brought me cooked eggs and
potatoes from the bazaar. It was the first time I
was able to eat in days.
September 27th, 1945 (Friday) I’m still
sick today. Three more people died. Only heaven
knows the suffering we’ve had to endure.
September 28th, 1945 (Saturday) I had to
work today, my fever was 39 degrees (102.2
Fahrenheit). I could hardly make the march to the
mine. Two more Schlesier died today. About half of
our original group is already dead and buried in the
September 29th, 1945 (Sunday) There was
a frost today. It is getting colder. I’m still
taking the malaria pills that I bought from others.
My fever is gradually lessening, but my hunger is
still very great.
September 30th, 1945 (Monday) Three more
people died today, two from Hungary and one from
Schlesien. We are all so weak, we can barely stand
alone, but they continue to make us work – always
October 1st, 1945 (Tuesday) No more days
off, everyone must now work every day of the week.
More of the same hard work, more of the same people
collapsing and then dying.
October 2nd, 1945 (Wednesday) They
replaced the crazy Amazonian women guards with
handicapped men wounded in the war. Good riddance
to the women! They were s quick to kick and hit the
weak captives who didn’t march fast enough for
October 3rd, 1945 (Thursday) They wrote
up those over fifty years old and those that are
sick and can’t work anymore.
October 4th, 1945 (Friday) It was cold
working outside today. I have a strong hunger and
my stomach aches. I’m still supposed to work faster
October 5th, 1945 (Saturday) I sold a
pair of shoes for 300 ruble and bought food at the
bazaar. My hunger is so great!
October 6th, 1945 (Sunday) They sent
back the old and sick today. They said they were
being sent home. I hope so. Who knows? They also
sent back J. Kast, from my home town, Harta,
October 7th, 1945 (Monday) The cucumber
soup is giving me severe stomach cramps again. The
sores on my back and legs are getting worse again.
They keep on pushing us closer to death. They only
sent back thirty persons, over a thousand of us have
already died here. They were buried without any
clothes in a mass grave, with no headstone to mark
October 8th, 1945 (Tuesday) I bought
five eggs and some honey at the bazaar to ease my
hunger. I bought a pair of shoe from a Schlesier
for 120 ruble and was able to sell the same pair at
the bazaar for 300.
October 9th, 1945 (Wednesday) I was sick
again and stayed in the camp today with a 41 degree
(105.8 F) fever. Three more roommates died today.
I have a huge open sore on my left leg, which I am
putting hot compresses on. Now my hunger is worse
than the pain.
October 10th, 1945 (Thursday) Sick again
with a high fever.
October 11th, 1945 (Friday) Still Sick.
October 12th, 1945 (Saturday) Still
sick. I have stomach cramps and diarrhea. Many
young Russians arrived here today to work in the
mine. They were captured by the Nazi’s to work in
Germany, now the Russians are making them work here
one year before they are allowed to return home.
They are quartered in the buildings we recently
October 13th, 1945 (Sunday) A. Vejtei
bought a ˝ kilo of beef, which we cooked in the
evening, along with potatoes. I’m feeling a little
better today. My fever is lessening, I hope I’m
October 14th, 1945 (Monday) I had to go
to work today. My fever was 40 degrees (104 F). I
was so hungry and weak that I could barely stand
up. I was cold. In the afternoon, Ingenohr sent me
October 15th, 1945 (Tuesday) My fever
went up to 41 degrees, so I was allowed to stay in
the camp today. People are dropping like flies this
October 16th, 1945 (Wednesday) Still
sick today. Stayed in the camp. You can’t imagine
how many sick people are here who can’t walk or
stand up straight.
October 17th, 1945 (Thursday) I still
have a high fever. Sometimes I’m boiling hot,
sometimes freezing cold. I’m hungry and have pain.
Winter is knocking at the door. Many will not
survive the winter.
October 18th, 1945 (Friday) My thoughts
were only on food and at home in Harta today. It
was a sad day.
October 19th, 1945 (Saturday) I’m still
very sick, even though I’m only drinking boiled
water. I’m only eating dry food – potatoes which I
cook myself on the stove.
October 20th, 1945 (Sunday) I’m still
sick and stayed in the camp. My hopes are deflated
after seeing all the sick people here who did
October 21st, 1945 (Monday) I was made
to work today in the ice and snow. The Russians
gave us all green jackets and pants, which I
promptly sold at the bazaar for 184 ruble in order
to buy food.
October 22nd, 1945 (Tuesday) I was sent
to the infirmary today, as my fever is still very
high. The infirmary is the second to the last place
you go to here, from here, most people go into the
burial ditch. There are twenty people in this
room. There are no beds, so we all lie on the dirty
floor. They give us bitter-tasting black tea and a
small piece of bread to eat.
October 23rd, 1945 (Wednesday) Two
people died this morning in our sick room. They
brought in two more people to replace their spots on
the floor. I am so afraid that I’ll die, but I
can’t give up hope.
October 24th, 1945 (Thursday) Three
people were dead this morning. If this keeps up, it
will be my turn soon. We still only receive tea and
October 25th, 1945 (Friday) Today only
one person was dead. They didn’t replace him.
October 26th, 1945 (Saturday) Today
three people died in the sick room. They don’t even
cry out, they just die like they’re falling asleep.
October 27th, 1945 (Sunday) No one died in the room
today. I am feeling a little better. I’m only
praying for food, I have such strong hunger pains.
October 28th, 1945 (Monday) Still in the
sick room with a high fever. I am still very weak.
They paid me for two weeks work and didn’t take
money for camp food, as I didn’t eat any.
October 29th, 1945 (Tuesday) I was sent
from the infirmary to my own room today to my
roommates A. Vejtei and A. Schneider. I made it out
from the death room! I am still very sick.
October 30th, 1945 (Wednesday) Andreas
Vejtei bought me eggs and cornmeal from the bazaar
for 80 ruble. Now I can cook four meals with it.
October 31st, 1945 (Thursday) I survived
two very hard weeks with sickness. I always kept
the thought in my mind that I can’t die here, that I
have to be able to return home to my family before
it’s my turn to die.
November 1st, 1945 (Friday) I’m still
sick in the camp. Josef Imgrundt from Bacsalmas,
Hungary, died today, along with three others. He
was 21 years old. No day goes by that people don’t
November 2nd, 1945 (Saturday) I helped
bury Joseph today. I’m feeling a little better and
was able to work in the camp kitchen repairing
tables and benches. They gave me a big bowl of
November 3rd, 1945 (Sunday) I was made
to work at the mine today even though I’m very
weak. I was freezing cold all day. Two more people
died today from our mine.
November 4th, 1945 (Monday) Worked on
the saw all day today out in the open. The snow was
flying and it was bitter cold. Still so weak.
November 5th, 1945 (Tuesday) Worked with
wet, unseasoned green wood that was frozen. The saw
barely could cut into it. It has to be used, as
they need the wood for the mine frames.
November 6th, 1945 (Wednesday) My first
saw injury. A co-worker wanted to help me, he fell
holding the wood and the saw cut my right hand. We
made a bandage from the back of my shirt. No
medicine for the pain.
November 7th, 1945 (Thursday) It’s my
eighteenth wedding anniversary today. My thoughts
were at home even though my pains were driving my
crazy. My wound is already beet red with infection,
even my entire arm is swollen.
November 8th, 1945 (Friday) A.
Fussenecker from Csaszartoltes, Hungary, died
November 9th, 1945 (Saturday) My hand
wound is worse, all infected and swollen. Since
there is no medicine, I am prescribing my own. Even
time I urinate, I pour some of the water I passed
over the wound. It seems to be helping.
November 10th, 1945 (Sunday) The nurse
wrote me up as sick today. It’s very cold and windy
November 11th, 1945 (Monday) As my
injury was job related, I don’t have to pay for my
food. When it gets better, then I’ll have to repair
tables and benches in the kitchen in exchange for
November 12th, 1945 (Tuesday) My
medicine must be working, as the infection is going
away. It’s still very sore and painful.
November 13th, 1945 (Wednesday) We
buried Jakob Onhaus today, he was fifty six years
old. We also buried three other people from our
November 14th, 1945 (Thursday) They are
still making me work repairing tables in the kitchen
even though my hand is swollen and bandaged. The
Russians gave me a pair of leather gloves lined with
sheep’s wool so that I can work.
November 15th, 1945 (Friday) They wrote
up those that are very sick and old today. They are
still pushing me to fix things in the kitchen.
November 16th, 1945 (Saturday) It’s very
cold, windy and snowy today. An east wind is
blowing the snow like crazy. I’m glad that I’m
inside the warm camp kitchen, still repairing
November 17th, 1945 (Sunday) It’s 19
degrees (2 F) outside today. There’s 40 centimeter
of snow on the ground already. I don’t have to pay
for the cabbage soup, but I do have to pay for the
November 18th, 1945 (Monday) I still
have some money, so A. Vejtei bought me some eggs
and cornmeal at the bazaar for 40 ruble. I can make
four meals with it.
November 19th, 1945 (Tuesday) My hand
wound is slowly getting better, my medicine has
helped. Many others have died from similar wounds.
Those people died from high fevers and had severe
pain, they didn’t die peacefully in their sleep.
November 20th, 1945 (Wednesday) My thumb
is still stiff and rigid, I hope it will also heal.
I’m now working in the basement, putting together a
small kitchen where we can cook. We’re not supposed
to cook in our rooms anymore.
November 21st, 1945 (Thursday) It’s been
now ten months since we’ve been imprisoned. It
feels like ten years already.
November 22nd, 1945 (Friday) They
brought in tables and benches that were factory made
and put them in our basement kitchen.
November 23rd, 1945 (Saturday) It snowed
the entire night. The first shirt lost it’s way in
the snow and arrived late at the mine.
November 24th, 1945 (Sunday) I got
another bad case of sores/abscess on my legs and
back. Most everyone is full of them, too.
November 25th, 1945 (Monday) Today is my
wife’s names day, Katharina day. Will we ever
celebrate it together again? (It was the custom
then to celebrate Names Days, not actual birthdays)
November 26th, 1945 (Tuesday) I’m still
sick in the camp today. The weather is very cold
and it’s snowing.
November 27th, 1945 (Wednesday) I sold
two pieces of soap for 40 ruble today to buy bread.
November 28th, 1945 (Thursday) Today was
pay day at the mine. I didn’t receive anything,
because I couldn’t work with my hand injury. If you
don’t have money, then you can’t eat the camp food
and then have to die of starvation like so many
already have done.
November 29th, 1945 (Friday) I am still
sick in the camp. Since I’m repairing tables and
benches, they’ve been giving me free soup, so I’m
still among the living.
November 30th, 1945 (Saturday) The
winter is approaching. I am feeling a little
better. Today was Andreas Names Day, so Andreas
Vejtei and I celebrated by cooking four potatoes and
December 1st, 1945 (Sunday) After
twenty-four days out sick with my hand wound, I
returned to the mine today. It was hard working in
the cold, snow and wind.
December 2nd, 1945 (Monday) I am hungry
and very tired. I sold my summer clothes for 550
ruble and bought bread, cornmeal and eggs at the
December 3rd, 1945 (Tuesday) More and
more Russians are filling the places of those of us
December 4th, 1945 (Wednesday) I sold my
shoes and paid 150 ruble extra for a better pair of
shoes, as my feet were always wet and cold working
at the mine.
December 5th, 1945 (Thursday) Had to
work out in the open all day, it was very cold.
We’ll soon go to the ground.
December 6th, 1945 (Friday) Very cold
again working at the mine today. It’s even cold in
our camp room at night, as we have no bedding to
keep us warm and have to wear our wet clothes when
December 7th, 1945 (Saturday) Hunger and
cold day and night. No wonder so many die.
December 8th, 1945 (Sunday) We marched
to the mine in –25 degree (-25 F) cold and snow. It
was dark marching. We worked eight hours without
any food and then marched back the four kilometers
to the camp at night. It’s no wonder that over
1,000 people have died from our original 4,600.
December 9th, 1945 (Monday) We went by
truck to the forest today to harvest wood. It was –
30 degrees (-30 F), very cold.
December 10th, 1945 (Tuesday) They kept
pushing us and pushing us to produce more wood for
the mine. We can hardly stand up, how do they
expect us to work?
December 11th, 1945 (Wednesday) Our
lives are even more miserable with the cold
weather. The snow is already 50 – 60 centi-meter
thick. You can only think about food.
December 12th, 1945 (Thursday) I bought
beans and cornmeal at the bazaar today for 60
ruble. I cooked it tonight.
December 13th, 1945 (Friday) Jacob
Grieks from Vaskut, Hungary, died in our room
today. My stomach aches are getting worse.
December 14th, 1945 (Saturday) Cold,
hungry and in pain all day while at work.
December 15th, 1945 (Sunday) Four more
people died from our mine today. I am feeling
December 16th, 1945 (Monday) I stayed in
the camp today, as I had a 40 degree (105.8 F)
fever. There are many who are severely sick and
must suffer from starvation and die.
December 17th, 1945 (Tuesday) Sick in
the camp today. A monstrous snowstorm raged the
whole day, I thought the world was going to end.
Many people got lost marching to and from the mine.
December 18th, 1945 (Wednesday) My fever
went down, so I had to work at the mine today in –31
degree cold weather, I almost froze.
December 19th, 1945 (Thursday) My hand
injury finally healed, but my hands are always
cold. It took six weeks and I endured lots of pain
before it healed.
December 20th, 1945 (Friday) It was –35
degrees today and cold. We had to pay 6 ruble for a
teaspoonful of sugar and lard.
December 21st, 1945 (Saturday) It’s been
eleven months since they’ve imprisoned us. Over one
third of us have already died.
December 22nd, 1945 (Sunday) The cold
weather has lessened a bit, but the 4 kilometer
march to the mine is still tough and hard to
maneuver in this weather.
December 23rd, 1945 (Monday) Fog this
morning, we could barely find the way to the mine.
The fog was very damp and made my clothes cold and
December 24th, 1945 (Tuesday) Even
though we worked as hard as we could, they still
yelled at us all day today. It was icy in the
morning, when it melted a bit in the afternoon, our
gloves and clothes got wet.
December 25th, 1945 (Wednesday) The
first Christmas day! We had a very meager feast,
only our usual cabbage soup and a small piece of
bread. Had to work all day at the saw. At night,
A. Vejtei and I boiled potatoes for our Christmas
December 26th, 1945 (Thursday) My Names
Day today. I cooked beans. It was the most
sorrowful Christmas in my life! No one can
understand the tragedy that has befallen us. I only
thought about home, hope they’re all alive and safe
December 27th, 1945 (Friday) I stayed in
the camp today, sick. I think it was from the beans
I cooked the night before, they were too heavy for
my weak stomach. Three more people died today.
December 28th, 1945 (Saturday) I’m still
sick in the camp today. I had to repair doors and
windows. They gave me a bowl of soup and a piece of
bread. More young Russians are coming to replace
those of us who’ve died.
December 29th, 1945 (Sunday) We received
our pay and a piece of soap from the mine. I bought
some potatoes and cornmeal and cooked them tonight.
December 30th, 1945 (Monday) Now the
second mine that we’ve had to make wooden frames for
is producing coals. The first mine produced coals
at 60 meters, the second mine produced coals at 110
December 31st, 1945 (Tuesday) The last
day of the year. I was very sick more than a few
times this year, when I thought I might not live to
see another day. It is a crime what they are doing
to us unlucky, innocents. The food is miserable and
not enough to survive on, but they make us work
eight hours a day and then stick us back in this
camp. Many people have already fallen on the way,
at work and on the way back, and die. They remove
their clothing and throw them in a shallow ditch as
a grave. They let us write postcards home monthly,
but they are never sent. We haven’t heard any news
from our homes. No one knows if their relatives are
still alive. My thoughts are of home. With a heavy
heart, I close the year of 1945.
August and September, typhoid fever claimed many
lives. How much longer do we have to suffer here?
No one knows.
January 1st, 1946 (Tuesday) A new year
and we still don’t know if our families are safe
back home. Still no word from them. In twenty
days, it will be a full year since they captured
January 2nd, 1946 (Wednesday) For New
Years Day, A. Vejtei and I bought two corncakes, two
small sausages and one dezi-gram of vodka for 90
January 3rd, 1946 (Thursday) Our
roommate Franz Arnold from Hajos, Hungary, died
January 4th, 1946 (Friday) We received
an inoculation today. They are bringing more and
more Russians to fill the spots of those who’ve
died. We cut a lot of wood today.
January 5th, 1946 (Saturday) The young
Russians here were originally captured by the Nazi’s
and forced to work in Germany. Now they must work
one year here in the mine before the Russians will
let them return to their homes.
January 6th, 1946 (Sunday) It was very
cold working today on the saw. Many of us can’t
work anymore and are lying in the camp, waiting for
death to free them.
January 7th, 1946 (Monday) Today is the
Russian Christmas, work goes on as usual here.
January 8th, 1946 (Tuesday) The beds in
the camp are gradually emptying, we are dwindling in
January 9th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off, but I have to work in the camp, sawing off the
bunk beds into two separate beds. Everyone in our
room now has his own bed, but still no covers,
blankets, pillows, etc.
January 10th, 1946 (Thursday) The
cabbage soup they feed us is too weak to sustain us,
many cannot work anymore due to weakness and
January 11th, 1946 (Friday) A soft snow
makes it very hard for us to walk to the mine
today. Our shoes are soaked, then when we reached
the mine, our shoes were frozen.
January 12th, 1946 (Saturday) In
exchange for wood scraps, a woman gave me potato
soup and two eggs. I bought cornmeal for 20 ruble
at the bazaar. You’ll starve with only the camp food
January 13th, 1946 (Sunday) They brought
more timber from the forest to the mine today. We
can’t cut the wood fast enough for use in the mine.
January 14th, 1946 (Monday) Today is the
Russian New Year. They drink vodka, but the work
continues even faster.
January 15th, 1946 (Tuesday) We
assembled a small hut from 4 x 6 boards. Tarpaper
was used for the roof – so now after a whole year,
we have a little protection from the weather to saw
January 16th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off, but they made me working the camp, repairing
doors and windows. After one whole year, they
actually gave us a glass pane for one window.
January 17th, 1946 (Thursday) There is
always a cold strong wind blowing around here. They
will not let us use any coals to make a fire, the
coals are only for Stalin and his red army.
January 18th, 1946 (Friday) Snow and
very cold. There was no bread again this morning,
we had to work eight hours with only a few spoonfuls
of a thin cabbage soup for sustenance. It’s not
enough to survive!
January 19th, 1946 (Saturday) There is
no salvation. Every day, people are dying.
January 20th, 1946 (Sunday) I sold a
pair of knitted gloves today and bought cornmeal at
the bazaar. Still many sick and starving at the
January 21st, 1946 (Monday) It’s been
exactly one year, or 365 days, since they enslaved
us and brought us to their hell hole. There’s been
no government or agency to see what’s been going on
here. How much longer do we have to put up with
January 22nd, 1946 (Tuesday) Bitter cold
today. The wood was so frozen, the saw just spurted
fire sparks. In exchange for wood scraps, I
received a piece of bread and cornmeal, which I
January 23rd, 1946 (Wednesday) I bought a
sheep fur vest for 50 ruble to help keep me warm.
January 24th, 1946 (Thursday) I bought
some corncakes and two spoonfuls of sugar for 6
ruble. The cucumber soup is not enough.
January 25th, 1946 (Friday) Two more
people from our section died today. We are all so
weak and dizzy, we are only shadows of our former
January 26th, 1946 (Saturday) We buried
five people last night. They don’t have to suffer
from starvation and extreme cold anymore. We are
living in inhumane conditions here.
January 27th, 1946 (Sunday) It’s always
the same here, our hunger is all we can think
about. People keep on dying, that’s probably their
plan for the rest of us.
January 28th, 1946 (Monday) The snow is
so thick, you can barely see in front of you. We
had to saw out in the open.
January 29th, 1946 (Tuesday) Icy and
windy today. We had to work the entire day out in
January 30th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I washed and mended my clothes. In the
afternoon, I had to repair tables. They gave me a
bowl of soup and a piece of bread in exchange.
January 31st, 1946 (Thursday) Very
cold. They continually cry for more wood, it’s
harder to cut now that the wood is frozen.
February 1st, 1946 (Friday) It’s been
one year since we left Hungary by train and made to
February 2nd, 1946 (Saturday) Not so
bitter cold today. Three more men died today, two
from Schleisen and one a German/Romanian.
February 3rd, 1946 (Sunday) We cut down
trees from the forest, loaded them into trucks and
delivered them to the coal mine today. The weather
February 4th, 1946 (Monday) We cut down
trees in the forest again today. We are stocking up
on lumber, in case it thaws, the roads will be too
muddy to drive.
February 5th, 1946 (Tuesday) The sheep’s
wool vest that I bought for 50 ruble – I sold it for
160 ruble. I bought cornmeal and beans with the
February 6th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. Even though there was nothing to repair in the
kitchen, they gave me a free bowl of soup. I washed
my clothes. In the evening, I had to help bury two
February 7th, 1946 (Thursday) Worked
like crazy on the saw all day – they are still
pushing us for more wood, it’s never enough.
February 8th, 1946 (Friday) It snowed
all day, a cold wind made it miserable to be
outside. A. Vejtei and I cook almost every night
February 9th, 1946 (Saturday) I found
out about a house that needs a wooden floor in their
kitchen. The daughter works in the mine and carries
the wood from the saw to the mine shaft.
February 10th, 1946 (Sunday) The
daughter was also enslaved by the Nazi’s and made to
work in Germany. She speaks very good German, but
only when the guards are not around to overhear.
Her father is an employee at the mine. Their house
is not far from the mine.
February 11th, 1946 (Monday) I delivered
wood to their house this morning. They told me that
I should stop in on my way back tonight, they’ll
give me food. They gave me a bowl of rich, thick
soup with potatoes, noodles and even meat. Oh, it
was so good. I haven’t eaten like that since I left
February 12th, 1946 (Tuesday) A strong
wind with a mix of rain and snow today. I hid some
wooden flooring planks in the snow.
February 13th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I was at my leisure today until this evening,
when I had to help bury three people. About 100
meters from camp is the final resting place of over
1,000 people. They don’t have any more suffering
nor hunger pains.
February 14th, 1946 (Thursday) More
Russians are coming to the mine to re-place the
slaves who’ve died. I delivered some wooden planks
to the house again. Their daughter brought me
cornbread and potatoes.
February 15th, 1946 (Friday) Pay day and
a piece of soap. I sold the soap for 20 ruble and
bought beans and cornmeal at the bazaar to cook
February 16th, 1946 (Saturday) In
exchange for wood scraps, a Russians gave me a bowl
of beef soup. It helps.
February 17th, 1946 (Sunday) I made a
footstool for a Russian. He brought me a plate of
roasted potatoes. It tasted very good.
February 18th, 1946 (Monday) A windy
snowstorm today. I made a few more wooden planks
for their kitchen floor today.
February 19th, 1946 (Tuesday) We had to
work in a snowstorm all day. We almost froze. We
are all so weak, the wind just pushes you around.
February 20th, 1946 (Wednesday) Wasn’t
allowed to take my day off today. We had to work in
a blinding snowstorm, thought that the world was
going to end.
February 21st, 1946 (Thursday) Still no
word from home, even though we’ve been here thirteen
months now. We write a postcard every month, if it
ever gets mailed, no one knows. We certainly have
never received a reply.
February 22nd, 1946 (Friday) It’s our
one year anniversary since we were delivered here to
the coal mine. The entire area is a coal basin.
The terrain is hilly and the dirt is black.
February 23rd, 1946 (Saturday) The snow
is starting to melt. I sold a piece of soap for 20
ruble and bought two meat cakes at the bazaar.
After eating them, I felt a little better.
February 24th, 1946 (Sunday) Now that
the snow is melting, everything is turning to mud.
It’s very difficult to walk the four kilometers to
the mine in mud, you get stuck in it. A lot of
people lost their shoes in the mud, they had to walk
the rest of the way to the mine in their socks.
February 25th, 1946 (Monday) More of the
February 26th, 1946 (Tuesday) When we
asked our guards if we’ll soon be going home, their
reply was, you’ll be going home soon – into the hole
where your comrades are buried. It’s utterly
February 27th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. They made me work in the camp today, repairing
the floors. I also washed and mended my clothes.
February 28th, 1946 (Thursday) The truck
with trees from the forest got stuck in the mud. We
had to hand carry the trees to the saw.
February 29th, 1946 (Friday) It’s hard
to walk, some places are still frozen solid with
snow, in other places, you fall right through. No
one can understand the misery and suffering we have
March 1st, 1946 (Saturday) Everything’s
still frozen around the sawmill, but around it is
slime and mud.
March 2nd, 1946 (Sunday) There was a
frost and a cold wind today. Everything froze
again, including us.
March 3rd, 1946 (Monday) The Russians
stole my green jacket, knife, mirror, comb and other
personal items of mine. We reported it, but nothing
March 4th, 1946 (Tuesday) Instead of
sleeping, we all had to clean our rooms. They said
they are awaiting a commission to visit.
March 5th, 1946 (Wednesday) The weather
changes daily, on day rain, the next, snow. When
will it ever get better? Nicer weather makes our
work a little easier.
March 6th, 1946 (Thursday) My day off.
They made me make clothing hooks to hang on walls,
some day off.
March 7th, 1946 (Friday) A terrible
snowstorm and cold wind the entire day. Two people
died while at the mine, one died on the way back.
Our numbers continue to dwindle.
March 8th, 1946 (Saturday) They took
everyone’s names today, they also asked our father’s
name, if we had a family, where we were born and if
you had been a German soldier. What will become of
March 9th, 1946 (Sunday) The household I
made a wooden kitchen floor for gave me bread,
potatoes and a good soup. I can cook 2 – 3 meals
with it. More dead today.
March 10th, 1946 (Monday) A little warmer
today. They brought in more Russians to replace our
March 11th, 1946 (Tuesday) Had to walk four
kilometers to the mine in mud and dirt. The truck
got stuck in the mud again, so men had to
hand-deliver the wood to my saw.
March 12th, 1946 (Wednesday) No one can
image what goes on here. Every day, men fall dead
March 13th, 1946 (Thursday) We started a
third coal mine today, it is named “Vorosilofka”.
The second mine is producing a good supply of coal,
but it requires a lot of wood for the shaft.
March 14th, 1946 (Friday) It’s still
very cold in the morning, but the afternoon sun
helps warm us. It’s also still muddy and slimy.
March 15th, 1946 (Saturday) Today is
Hungary’s national independence day. It’s a holiday
back home. We have no holidays here, only if we’re
March 16th, 1946 (Sunday) Still cold.
There are hundreds of sick people stuck in the camp
who can’t work anymore. They are dying of
March 17th, 1946 (Monday) More Russians
were brought in to replace the sick and dead.
March 18th, 1946 (Tuesday) In exchange
for more floor boards, the Russian family gave me a
rich, thick soup, cornbread and potatoes. This will
provide me with 3 evening meals.
March 19th, 1946 (Wednesday) A windy
snow all day. In the evening, I cooked sugar beets
March 20th, 1946 (Thursday) I bought a
pair of quilted pants for 55 ruble and underwear for
37 ruble from the camp today.
March 21st, 1946 (Friday) More rainy
weather. The way to the mine is so muddy, it
reaches up to your ankles. A lot of people got
stuck in it and died.
March 22nd, 1946 (Saturday) It was
fourteen months yesterday since they took us from
our homes. About one-half of us are already dead in
March 23rd, 1946 (Sunday) I sold my
winter pants for 250 ruble and bought summer pants
for 100 ruble. The leftover money will be used to
buy food at the bazaar, to be able to cook something
March 24th, 1946 (Monday) Rain mixed
with snow today. Received food in exchange for wood
scraps. I sawed some boards today and at night,
mailed a small chest together for my own use.
March 25th, 1946 (Tuesday) The camp gave
us a 600 gram soap, which I sold right away for 55
ruble to buy food. I’m always hungry.
March 26th, 1946 (Wednesday) I made a
chest for A. Vejtei. The trucks got stuck in the
mud again, men had to drag the heavy timbers 150
meters to the sawing area.
March 27th, 1946 (Thursday) My day off,
but they made me repair windows and doors. The
crazy Oberschleisien camp leader doesn’t leave me
March 28th, 1946 (Friday) Sawed wood the
entire day. I made myself another chest to sell for
25 ruble, that will pay for one meal.
March 29th, 1946 (Saturday) Received a
200 gram bar of soap, I traded it with a Russian for
a piece of bread. Every day, 2- 3 people die.
March 30th, 1946 (Sunday) It snowed
again today. All the people who work with wood had
to go to the train station at Lisicsansk to unload
timber. The trucks can’t make it in the mud.
March 31st, 1946 (Monday) A cold eastern
wind all day. The food they feed us is hopeless,
the soup is only water with a few pieces of cabbage
or cucumber, no potatoes, no fat. Since half of us
have died already, the mine replaced them with
Russians. It looks like we’ll all break down and
April 1st, 1946 (Tuesday) A huge
snowstorm with a very cold wind. Andreas Vejtei and
I cook together a lot.
April 2nd, 1946 (Wednesday) Snow and
cold. We can’t think of anything else except
wanting to eat. We have constant headaches and are
dizzy. Everyone walks around like they are deaf and
April 3rd, 1946 (Thursday) My day off.
I washed and mended my clothes, they need constant
repairing. Two more dead in our quarters.
April 4th, 1946 (Friday) The sun shone
today. It wasn’t too windy. The weather’s
improving, but our hunger is still immense.
April 5th, 1946 (Saturday) The muddy way
to the mine is slowly drying up, so we don’t get
stuck in the mud anymore. Hopefully, spring will
come soon so that it won’t be so cold. This was the
longest, coldest winter in my entire life.
April 6th, 1946 (Sunday) It’s been six
months since they took away some of the old and
sick. No one knows what happened to them. Janos
Kastz from Harta, Hungary was also with them.
April 7th, 1946 (Monday) Many people lie
here in the camp, unable to work. They are slowly
starving to death. Every day, some of them die.
April 8th, 1946 (Tuesday) Every day the
same, a four kilometer walk to and from the mine,
twice a day watery soup and a piece of bread. Not
enough to sustain us.
April 9th, 1946 (Wednesday) They threw
out all of our stoves, so that we can’t heat our
rooms anymore. We rescued our stove and fixed it
back up in the middle of the night.
April 10th, 1946 (Thursday) My day off.
I had to work anyway in the camp, fixing tables and
April 11th, 1946 (Friday) Cloudy, cold
weather. It’s always windy here. I made some more
wooden boards to make chests with. They are
popular, many people want one.
April 12th, 1946 (Saturday) They put in
a bath and a toilet in the basement, one half
separated for the women, the other for the men.
April 13th, 1946 (Sunday) It snowed the
entire day today. I bought beans and cornmeal at
the bazaar to cook tonight.
April 14th, 1946 (Monday) More and more
Russians are coming to work at the mine. Some of
them are sympathetic to our plight and sometimes
bring us bread or potatoes. The others would rather
shove us under the earth.
April 15th, 1946 (Tuesday) We sawed a
lot of wood for the mine. It’s amazing how much
coal is produced.
April 16th, 1946 (Wednesday) A strong,
cold wind the whole day. It was pay day, I received
83 ruble, which wasn’t enough to cover the cost of
the camp food.
April 17th, 1946 (Thursday) My day off.
Had to work in some Russians’ garden, digging it
up. I ate twice until I was full and received 25
April 18th, 1946 (Friday) Andreas Vejtei
and I both worked in the camp commander’s garden.
We each received 4 first class mess cards.
Christine, my daughter, is nine years old today. My
thoughts were always at home with them.
April 19th, 1946 (Saturday) I worked
digging up a garden again today. I received a good
meal and two mess cards. For the past two days,
we’ve had enough to eat. It’s been a long time.
April 20th, 1946 (Sunday) Worked in the
garden again today. We received food and mess
April 21st, 1946 (Monday) Easter
Sunday. We had a sad holiday. It’s been fifteen
months since they captured us and took us from
home. Will any of us ever see our homes again?
April 22nd, 1946 (Tuesday) At home, today
is still a holiday. Here is only the sorriest
existence. Thoughts were only of home.
April 23rd, 1946 (Wednesday) Only “Davaj,
Bistra” (work faster) today. Andreas Fussenecker
from Hajoz, Hungary, died today along with two
others. They were buried in the evening.
April 24th, 1946 (Thursday) My day off,
but still had to repair doors and the wooden floor
in the camp. I also washed and mended my clothes.
April 25th, 1946 (Friday) Sawed wood all
day, was able to saw a few boards to make my
chests. The weather is getting warmer, but it’s
April 26th, 1946 (Saturday) I can only
think about my hunger and of at home, I’ve forgotten
April 27th, 1946 (Sunday) Over half, or
300 of the Russians who were in slave labor here and
in Germany, have been sent to Siberia. They weren’t
satisfied here, they said they were treated better
April 28th, 1946 (Monday) Wind and rain
the whole day. We were soaked to the skin working
out in the open all day. They kept pushing us to
April 29th, 1946 (Tuesday) Had to work
longer today, as tomorrow is a holiday. Received
two weeks pay today, it will barely cover the cost
of the watery soup.
1st, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off, but
work went on as usual for the rest of us. The
Russians who could afford it, bought vodka and got
2nd, 1946 (Thursday) They switched my
shift to the afternoon, it was a nice day. I had
time in the evening to make floor boards and cut
wood to make my chests.
3rd, 1946 (Friday) I bought a 1 kilo
white bread at the bazaar and ate it all right away.
4th, 1946 (Saturday) Now I can cut wood
to make chests every night. I cut wood all night.
5th, 1946 (Sunday) In the 15 months I’ve
been here, today was the first day that I had to go
into a mine. I had to make a wooden frame for the
wagon tracks that carry out the coal. The air was
damp and thick. I couldn’t work in there.
6th, 1946 (Monday) Still on the
afternoon shift, working on the saw, so I can cut
wood for myself. I can make a chest a day and sell
it for 25 ruble.
7th, 1946 (Tuesday) Now that it’s gotten
warmer, there’s been fewer deaths, but still 1 –2
per day go to eternity.
8th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off. I put
together two chests and sold them for 50 ruble. I
also had to repair a table in the kitchen today, and
received a bowl of soup and a piece of bread.
9th, 1946 (Thursday) It’s been one year
today that Berlin fell and the war ended. We are
still here in misery and have continual hunger. It
is a human sin that we’ve had to be here so long.
10th, 1946 (Friday) Big to-do today. I
have to make a free chest for our room leader,
otherwise, he threatened to take mine. He is a
crazy man from Oberschlesien, he makes sure he fills
himself up with the kitchen food, while his
countrymen slowly starve.
11th, 1946 (Saturday) After nine days on
the afternoon shift, I am now back on the morning
shift. They don’t have enough wood during the day.
I cooked beans with cornmeal at night.
12th, 1946 (Sunday) A severe lightning
and thunderstorm all day. It soaked us through to
the skin. We could hardly stand it. How much
longer can we last?
13th, 1946 (Monday) I sold a chest for
25 ruble and bought cornmeal. I have hunger pains
day and night.
14th, 1946 (Tuesday) A lot of Russians
planted potatoes and corn without even plowing the
ground. The ground is black and ashy.
15th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off, so I
made two chests and sold them for 50 ruble.
Received another inoculation today. They won’t give
us anything to relieve our hunger, though.
16th, 1946 (Thursday) They took
seventeen men who had been in the Nazi SS. They
were taken to a soldier camp.
17th, 1946 (Friday) Now that the SS men
were taken away, we think that us civilians will be
allowed home. There are now many Russians working
18th, 1946 (Saturday) Nice warm weather
today. The warmer weather is a little easier on us,
but we’re still starving and very weak.
19th, 1946 (Sunday) At home, Sunday is a
day of rest. Not so here, we work at the mine every
day of the week and in three shifts a day. I bought
from a Russian woman cornbread and bean soup for 23
ruble, and ate everything right away.
20th, 1946 (Monday) They kept pushing us
for more wood today. In the mine, more than
two-thirds of the workers are now Russians. Of our
original 4,600 captives, over on-half are already
dead, with many more lying sick in the camp.
21st, 1946 (Tuesday) It’s been sixteen
months now since they’ve taken us prisoners from our
22nd, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off. I
washed and mended my clothes. There’s been no more
talk about letting us go home. Slowly, we’ll all
end up dead here. Most of us are so weak, they
can’t even walk.
23rd, 1946 (Thursday) It rained all day
today. We took off our shirts so they wouldn’t get
wet. I made a semolina porridge tonight, with no
sausage or fat in it.
24th, 1946 (Friday) Lots of coals are
coming out, and lots of wood is going under. The
Russian workers are much stronger than we are,
because they also receive better food that we do.
25th, 1946 (Saturday) More and more sick
in the camp. They are so weak, it’s pitiful. Many
lie in the sun to get warm during the day, sometimes
they are dead before the end of the day.
26th, 1946 (Sunday) Dry weather is
keeping the corn and potatoes from growing.
27th, 1946 (Monday) It was very warm today. They
kept pushing us to work faster. Old Ingenohr often
brings me food from his mid-day meal, it helps. At
night, I cooked bean soup, without any meat or fat.
28th, 1946 (Tuesday) The mine sold us
all blue pants for 50 ruble. I sold them at the
bazaar for 210 ruble and bought food. I sold a
chest today for 25 ruble.
29th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off, but
had to work all day in the camp repairing doors and
windows. Received a bowl of soup for my efforts.
Sold another chest for 25 ruble. I am also now
making shoe soles out of birch wood and sell them
for 20 ruble or trade them for bread.
30th, 1946 (Thursday) It was an
important day today! Both Johann Kolb and Maria
Jakob received mail from home today! This is the
first post anyone’s received here. The news from
their homes was that everyone was still alive there.
31st, 1946 (Friday) For the first time,
I went in the camp truck to the city to bring back
bread from the bakery. I ate my fill of the bread.
Only slept about two hours, the bugs wouldn’t let
June 1st, 1946 (Saturday) It’s now very
hot and dry here. If it doesn’t rain soon, the
potatoes and corn will dry out. Even the Russians
living here don’t have very much, the prices are
climbing every day at the bazaar.
June 2nd, 1946 (Sunday) The sun has
turned our skin black. My constant hunger drives me
crazy. We are all dizzy and weak. Every day, some
of us are relieved from their misery by dying.
June 3rd, 1946 (Monday) They transferred
Heinrich Schneider from us, to another job. Now
just Andres Vejtei and myself are the only ones left
from Harta here in Vorosilofka. The old Russian
told us we should stay here with him. He often
brings us food from his house.
June 4th, 1946 (Tuesday) I am not always
now on the saw. I am now making shovels and hoes,
for digging in the mine.
June 5th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off,
but they won’t let me rest. I had to repair things
in the camp. I sold one chest for 25 ruble. I
bought cornmeal at the bazaar.
June 6th, 1946 (Thursday) There is a
famine. Many people are cooking weeds and grass.
You can’t survive on what the camp feeds you.
June 7th, 1946 (Friday) I sold a chest
and bought food at the bazaar. The hot weather is
turning everything to dust. Hunger drives you
crazy. The future is hopeless.
June 8th, 1946 (Saturday) We talked
about home all day today. They are probably baking
the Whit Sunday cake. We are imprisoned here and
starving. The bugs are so bad that you can’t sleep
at night, a lot of people are sleeping outside in
June 9th, 1946 (Sunday) Whitsunday. Our
thoughts were always on our homes, but we couldn’t
smell the Whitsunday cake, not eat it. I bought
white bread, sugar and milk at the bazaar for 44
ruble. I ate it right away.
June 10th, 1946 (Monday) For two days,
we haven’t had any bread in the camp, as they ran
out of flour in the bakery. In the city of
Lisicsansk live 30,000 people, with an additional
20,000 prisoners in six camps within the area. This
whole area is full of coal.
June 11th, 1946 (Tuesday) I was sick in
the camp today. My leg is swollen and full of
water. It’s been three days now that we’ve only had
soup, no bread. I sold a chest for 25 ruble, but I
can’t walk to the bazaar to buy any food with the
June 12th, 1946 (Wednesday)Still sick
with a swollen leg. We finally received a half
portion of bread today. The harvest this year will
be really poor, as everything has dried out from
lack of rain.
June 13th, 1946 (Thursday) A heat wave
today. I’m still sick in the camp. My right foot
is swollen and is full of fluids.
June 14th, 1946 (Friday) Still the same.
My leg is as thick as an elephants. I’m not
supposed to eat any liquids, but they won’t give me
anything but soup. A. Vejtei brought me three
corncakes from the bazaar for 18 ruble. I ate them
June 15th, 1946 (Saturday) The swelling
went down a little, but my knee is so swollen, I can
barely fit my leg into my pants.
June 16th, 1946 (Sunday) They made me
work today, as I don’t have a fever. I made shovels
today and two pairs of shoe soles. I sold the soles
for 15 ruble. The prices are rising at the bazaar.
June 17th, 1946 (Monday) The drought
continues. The food shortage is worsening, even
among the civilians.
June 18th, 1946 (Tuesday) I had to work
on the saw today, they are in desperate need of
wood. My legs hurt, they are so full of water and
swollen, that my skin will soon pop off.
June 19th, 1946 (Wednesday) They made
all the sick people work in Kolhos hoeing corn. It
is still very dry, there will be little food this
June 20th, 1946 (Thursday) We buried
seven people this week. Those people who can’t work
for themselves on the side will not survive.
June 21st, 1946 (Friday) Today is the
seventeenth month that we’ve been imprisoned. Over
half of us lie peacefully in their eternal grave in
the dark earth here. If it keeps up, then we’ll all
die here. I sold another chest for 25 ruble.
June 22nd, 1946 (Saturday) The mine sold
us a work suit for 35 ruble. Two men broke out of
here, they are looking for them now. My right leg
is still swollen and full of water, I can hardly
walk to the mine. At least I can sit on the job –
making the shovels.
June 23rd, 1946 (Sunday) They found the
two men who escaped and brought them back. They
beat them until they were very bloody and then
locked them in the basement. They brought about 30
prisoners from another camp here, they were all that
survived. They were ten kilometers from us in
another camp. They were originally from the Danube
area – Veszprem, Hungary.
June 24th, 1946 (Monday) My leg is still
heavily swollen, it gives me great pain. I still
have to go to the mine. Two of the people they
brought over from another camp were put into our
room today. They said it is the same here as it was
at the other camp.
June 25th, 1946 (Tuesday) I made shovels
again today. I sold two to a Russians for soup and
June 26th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off.
My right knee is so thick that I had to cut my pants
from the ankle up to the knee in order to put them
June 27th, 1946 (Thursday) Still very
hot. It hasn’t rained in two months. More sickness
and death here.
June 28th, 1946 (Friday) It thundered
and rained a little this afternoon, a little relief
from this heat. The rain might still help the corn,
but it’s too late to save the potato crop.
June 29th, 1946 (Saturday) Today is
Peter and Paul (Saints Day). At home, the harvest
is just starting. I hope that it hasn’t been as dry
at home as it has been here. We had to work two
more hours today, they didn’t have enough wood.
June 30th, 1946 (Sunday) Another hot
day. My legs are still very swollen and painful. I
sold another chest, but for 25 ruble now, you only
get a piece of bread.
July 1st, 1946 (Monday) The air is a
little cooler today. My legs are giving me great
pain. My legs are thick and swollen. I sold
another chest today, I barely got a piece of bread
June 2nd, 1946 (Tuesday) There was an
unusual windstorm today, it blew down houses and old
trees. We couldn’t work on the saw for two hours
before of the wind.
July 3rd, 1946 (Wednesday) I’m in the
infirmary, I can’t stand on my legs. They have no
medicine to reduce the swelling, I can only wait for
my death to relieve the pain.
July 4, 1946 (Thursday) Still in the infirmary,
still can’t walk on my legs. Have to lie down.
Johann Kolb gave me a letter that was sent to me in
October, 1945 from Lehrer Gerenyi.
July 5th, 1946 (Friday) Still in the
infirmary. A. Vejtei brought food from the bazaar
for me to cook, cornmeal and sugar. I was still so
hungry after I ate it, that I could have eaten twice
July 6th, 1946 (Saturday) Still in the
infirmary. My legs are a little thinner, I am
always lying down. Many more sick like me here.
July 7th, 1946 (Sunday) I had to go to
work today, I could barely walk to the mine. I made
shovels and had extra time to make some wood for my
chests. I was very tired and my legs were still
July 8th, 1946 (Monday) The weather was
cooler today. I sold the chest for 25 ruble and
bought two eggs and cornmeal. I was still hungry
after I ate them.
July 9th, 1946 (Tuesday) It was warm with
afternoon thundershowers. The ground was so dry, the
rain soaked right in. I sawed wood and made
July 10th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off.
I washed and mended my clothes. I sold a chest for
July 11th, 1946 (Thursday) It rained
very hard today and took away the oppressive heat.
I bought cornmeal and sugar at the bazaar and ate
them at night.
July 12th, 1946 (Friday) For the first
time, we received barely soup today, it tasted so
much better than the usual cabbage or cucumber
soup. They gave us a spool of thread, we’ve already
run out of thread and had to use wire to mend our
July 13th, 1946 (Saturday) They pushed
and pushed us to work harder today. My legs are
still so swollen, I can’t even bend my knee. It
gives me great pain.
July 14th, 1946 (Sunday) My 39th
birthday today! My thoughts were at home today. I
bought myself beef, potatoes and one onion to make a
stew. I drank the camp soup and pretended it was
wine. After my meal, I wrote a letter back home.
Every month for a year, I’ve written a letter, still
July 15th, 1946 (Monday) An afternoon
rainstorm, it drenched us. I didn’t feel good the
July 16th, 1946 (Tuesday) Warm weather.
I am so tired. My legs are thicker than my thighs.
My right knee is bigger than my head.
July 17th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off.
A commission came to the camp today, they wrote up
all the names of the sick, myself included. What
will happen, we don’t know. I sold a chest for 25
ruble and bought food.
July 18th, 1946 (Thursday) Had to work
today, my legs are still swollen and painful. I am
so tired. The bugs won’t let you sleep at night.
July 19th, 1946 (Friday) Two from our
room died today. They don’t have to suffer no more
hunger nor pain! I sold a chest for 25 ruble and
bought food. Those that can only afford the camp
food are already dead.
July 20th, 1946 (Saturday) They wrote up
the names of everyone still living in the camp. If
this continues, they won’t have many left to deliver
back home. We keep on dying off.
July 21st, 1946 (Sunday) Today is the
548th day, or eighteen months since they
took me captive. I still haven’t heard anything
from my family.
July 22nd, 1946 (Monday) Today is
Heinrich and Kato birthdays (my children). I thought
of them all day. I sent another card, but still
haven’t heard from them.
July 23rd, 1946 (Tuesday) I sold a chest
today. Making things and selling them for food has
helped me to survive this long. There were a few
times when I didn’t think I’d see another day.
July 24th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off.
I washed and mended my clothes. My legs are still
swollen. I have constant hunger.
July 25th, 1946 (Thursday) It was warm
working today. I could only think about food.
Hunger is the worst sickness, people die every day
here from starvation.
July 26th, 1946 (Friday) I sold a chest
for 25 ruble and bought beans and barley to cook up.
July 27th, 1946 (Saturday) Those who are
in the camp sick and can still stand up have to
paint the rooms in the entire camp.
July 28th, 1946 (Sunday) I wrote up the
prices at the bazaar; beans 6 ruble, sugar, 25
ruble, honey, 30 ruble, vodka, 25 ruble, 1 egg, 4
ruble, 1 liter milk, 16 ruble, 1kilo bread, 40
ruble, 1 small apple, 3 ruble, 15 pieces of sour
cherries, 4 ruble. I received 140 ruble a month.
From that I have to pay 105 ruble a month for the
camp food, that leaves me 35 ruble. How can you
live on this?
July 29th, 1946 (Monday) Those of us who
work with the wood can often use scrap wood to make
chests, shoe soles and stool to sell for food.
July 30th, 1946 (Tuesday) Heinrich
Schneider came back to our room today. For the
first time ever, the camp gave us a 10 deca-gram
bacon, we were charged 3.7 ruble for it.
July 31st, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off.
I washed clothes. Three of us room mates cleaned,
we burned the bugs and lice off our beds and washed
the floor with boiling hot water.
August 1st, 1946 (Thursday) The harvest
is pitiful this summer, due to lack of rain. There
are no potatoes and only a little corn.
August 2nd, 1946 (Friday) The days are
harder and harder to survive. We are all so weak.
Every day, people die due to the lack of food.
August 3rd, 1946 (Saturday) I sold a
chest for 25 ruble today. Whatever needs to be
done, I’ll do in order to stay alive. I can’t
adequately describe how awful and meager the camp
food is. Every day, people die due to the lack of
August 4th, 1946 (Sunday) Everyone that
can still walk is being forced to work. Our invalid
guards don’t have any sympathy. Our bread ration is
getting smaller and worse-tasting.
August 5th, 1946 (Monday) Cloudy today,
but no rain. It was very windy.
August 6th, 1946 (Tuesday) We had to
work until 7 this evening, they needed wood. Two
people collapsed at work today, one died instantly,
the other was carried back to the camp.
August 7th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day off,
but they made me work until 10 in the evening. They
are changing everything. From our original six
buildings, two will be closed. Those people in the
two closed buildings will be re-assigned to the
other four buildings.
August 8th, 1946 (Thursday) I had to
work until 12 midnight. We made the bunk beds into
single beds. A. Vejtei and H. Schneider helped me.
August 9th, 1946 (Friday) They are
putting young Russians into the two closed
buildings. I had to work until 3 in the morning.
We’ll soon go crazy with hunger and pain.
August 10th, 1946 (Saturday) I had to
work all day at the mine and then make a table for
the camp at night. They gave me a bowl of salt
August 11th, 1946 (Sunday) A hot day.
Had to work longer hours at the mine. It ended with
two dead in the mine, they don’t have to suffer
August 12th, 1946 (Monday) Received a
400 gram bar of soap, sold it immediately for 30
ruble. I bought beans and cornmeal to cook. I
worked on the saw today, was able to cut boards for
August 13th, 1946 (Tuesday) I made
shovels the whole day. The Russians often break
them, they have more strength that we do. Today is
my wife Kati’s birthday.
August 14th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I washed and mended my clothes. At night, I
cooked beans with cornmeal, are it with squash
soup. They wrote up again those that are old and
August 15th, 1946 (Thursday) No more
days off. We have to work every day, even nights
working in the camp so that our end will be quicker
and we won’t have to suffer hunger and pain anymore.
August 16th, 1946 (Friday) More young
Russians were brought in to work in the mine. In
the evening, I had to make stools for the infirmary.
August 17th, 1946 (Saturday) It was so
hot today, I almost passed out at work. I sold a
chest for 25 ruble.
August 18th, 1946 (Sunday) Still hot and
hungry, it drives you crazy. After work, I went to
the bazaar and bought a meat cake, four corn cakes
and a ˝ liter of milk – ate it all right away.
August 19th, 1946 (Monday) Another hot
day, 45 degrees (113 F). A lot of people passed
out, but only two died.
August 20th, 1946 (Tuesday) King
Stephen’s holiday in Hungary. I had a holiday
today, too. I assembled the wooden floorboards for
the commandant’s kitchen. I received three meals
today and 100 ruble. Their daughter, 19 is the one
that was captured by the Nazi’s and made to work in
Germany. She speaks good German.
August 21st, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. It’s been nineteen months since they took us
from home. I made a pig stall for a lady, she gave
me twice potatoes with noodles, bread and
watermelon. It tasted wonderful. She also gave me
August 22nd, 1946 (Thursday) I’m feeling
a little better today, since I’ve been able to eat
well the past two days.
August 23rd, 1946 (Friday) A cloudy day
with a strong wind. Hunger and the bugs will vex us
until we’re all dead. Not a day goes by that people
August 24th, 1946 (Saturday)
Thunderstorms today with very little rain. It
didn’t cool off too much. I bought corn cakes for
27 ruble, but was still very hungry.
August 25th, 1946 (Sunday) Russians
women made food and sold it today at the mine. I
bought meat and corn cakes, also tomatoes, for 20
ruble. Those that have cows, have to slaughter
then, as the drought dried up the corn crop, the
cows have no feed.
August 26th, 1946 (Monday) I’m no longer
on the saw, I’m making picks and shovels. Sometimes
I can trade them for food with the Russians.
August 27th, 1946 (Tuesday) A rainstorm
today. Now they have three armed guards escort us
to and from work. If any of us collapse on the way,
one guards stays with them until they can pick the
man up. Before, we used to have to pick them up and
carry them back to the camp.
August 28th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I worked five hours, making stools for the
infirmary again. Received a bowl of squash soup and
a piece of bread.
August 29th, 1946 (Thursday) Still
warm. There wasn’t much rain this summer, which
affected the crops. The potatoes were especially
hardest hit. Food is more expensive at the bazaar.
Our salary is often not enough to even cover the
cost of camp food. I sold two chest for 50 ruble
and bought food.
August 30th, 1946 (Friday) Hot humid
weather. I worked on the saw today and was able to
saw some wood to make chests for myself.
August 31st, 1946 (Saturday) It rained,
but it was too late to save any crops. There is
very little food for sale at the bazaar now. What
there is, is 50 – 60% higher.
September 1st, 1946 (Sunday) Hot again
today. Still more and more sick and can’t work.
September 2nd, 1946 (Monday) I bought
food to cook tonight for 21 ruble. I’m very hungry.
September 3rd, 1946 (Tuesday) Still the
same food in the camp, twice a day a bowl of watery
vegetable soup with a piece of dry bread. This is
not enough food to sustain you. This summer’s
drought severely affected the potato and corn crops,
very little was harvested.
September 4th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I made two chests and sold them for 50 ruble.
I can make two meals with this money.
September 5th, 1946 (Thursday) I got
sick at work today, had a 41 degree (105.8 F)
fever. I went back to the camp at eleven and
applied cold compresses the rest of the day. My
fever lessened a little by the end of the day.
There is no medicine here.
September 6th, 1946 (Friday) Sick in the
camp. My fever went down, was able to eat soup and
bread. Our room mate, Adam Kandler from Csepel,
Hungary, died today. Two or three others died
September 7th, 1946 (Saturday) Still
sick in the camp. At night, I cooked cornmeal and
ate it with my soup.
September 8th, 1946 (Sunday) Still sick
with fever. A. Vejtei brought me a meat and corn
cake from the bazaar. I’m hungry and very weak.
September 9th, 1946 (Monday) Still sick
with a fever. My legs are swollen. Every evening,
the dead are buried, the rest lie sick in the camp.
September 10th, 1946 (Tuesday) I went to
work today, but felt terrible. I made shovels on
September 11th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I spent the day in the city and bought sugar
and food at the bazaar.
September 12th, 1946 (Thursday) It
rained at night. I bought a meat cake and a piece
of bread for 10 ruble at the mine.
September 13th, 1946 (Friday) A third of
us are too sick and weak to return to work. They
lie in the camp and wait – slowly dieing of
September 14th, 1946 (Saturday) The
weather is getting cooler. Hey took away the
remaining Schlesier. Some say they were sent home.
When will they send us home? The Russians brought
over 2,100 Schleisier here in April, 1945. In
September/October, over a thousand of them died from
typhus. They fell like flies in the fall frost.
September 15th, 1946 (Sunday) We were
all very depressed today, we won’t be able to
survive another winter here. The harvest was very
meager here, even the Russians don’t have much.
September 16th, 1946 (Monday) As to
today, we have to pay a 30% increase for the lousy
camp food. This is a catastrophe, as most don’t
even receive that much in pay, they won’t be able to
afford any food. They just want us to starve to
September 17th, 1946 (Tuesday) Cool,
windy weather. I bought two small corn cakes for 20
ruble. I’m working on making shovels and pick axes.
September 18th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I washed my clothes and readied my winter
clothes. It’s already getting cold in the morning.
September 19th, 1946 (Thursday) My
hunger increases. They are cooking only beet soup
now, as soon as you eat it, you have to run to the
toilet. It’s giving everyone severe stomach cramps.
September 20th, 1946 (Friday) Windy with
rain today. It’s too cold to wear just a shirt
anymore. The beet soup continues to make us all
sick. If they keep this u, then there won’t be any
of us left to send home.
September 21st, 1946 (Saturday) It’s
been twenty months since they took us from home.
I’ve been able to write in this diary every day
since then. How much longer will I have to keep
this up here?
September 22nd, 1946 (Sunday) I sold a
chest today for 25 ruble. I bought meat and corn
cakes from some Russian women. Finally, something
good for my stomach.
September 23rd, 1946 (Monday) They sent
away some of the old and sick today. They said
they’re going home. In the summer, we sold our
winter boots, we didn’t think we’d still be here
September 24th, 1946 (Tuesday) It’s very
cold in the mornings now. We still haven’t received
any boots, many of us have colds already.
September 25th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I washed and mended my winter clothes. Over
forty men don’t have any shoes, including A. Vejtei
and H. Schneider, they weren’t allowed outside to
September 26th, 1946 (Thursday) We
received shoes today, they are leather with rubber
soles. They charged us 50 ruble each for them. We
all have colds.
September 27th, 1946 (Friday) For the
last two days, we only received a half of our bread
ration, apparently, another charge for our shoes.
They only want us to starve here.
September 28th, 1946 (Saturday) The
quantity and lack of quality of camp food is
becoming more critical. It is impossible to work
and exist on this food. I bought two pieces of
cornbread for 20 ruble.
September 29th, 1946 (Sunday) It gets
worse. In addition to the hunger, now the cold
weather adds to our misery. I sold a chest for 25
ruble and bought cornmeal. Half of us can’t even
pay for the food out of their salary, more are too
sick and weak to work anymore. They lie in the camp
until they’re dead. Death ends their suffering.
September 30th, 1946 (Monday) A cold
rain, it drenched us all day. We were very cold.
Egi Matias, from Vaskut, Hungary, died in our room
today. I have his raincoat, it helps a little.
October 1st, 1946 (Tuesday) Rain with a
strong, cold wind. A big day in the camp. Those
too sick to work don’t get any pay, but the kitchen
won’t feed them without money. Today a commission
came in and said that if anyone is too sick to work,
the camp must provide them with free food.
October 2nd, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. Had to work in the camp, repairing doors and
windows to keep the wind and cold out. I also
mended my winter clothes. Every day, as least 2 – 3
sick people leave this hell hole and enter heaven.
October 3rd, 1946 (Thursday) Rain mixed
with snow today. It was very cold. I wrote a
October 4th, 1946 (Saturday) Great
misery. We’re so hungry and the food at the bazaar
is so expensive. The camp food is getting worse and
October 5th, 1946 (Sunday) No one would
believe what we have to endure here. We’ll soon all
die from cold and hunger. They brought in another
October 6th, 1946 (Monday) It’s been six
months since they sent the first group of sick and
old people from here. My neighbor, Janos Kaszt was
included. We don’t know if they were ever sent
home, or if they were sent instead to another camp.
October 7th, 1946 (Tuesday) It rained
the whole day. It’s impossible to work while hungry
and in this kind of weather. I’m working mostly on
October 8th, 1946 (Wednesday) It was
very cold this morning. It warmed up during the day,
so on our way back to the camp, our shoes got stuck
in the mud. There men got stuck and just collapsed
in the mud, they couldn’t walk any more, they were
October 9th, 1946 (Thursday) My day
off. I repaired the oven in our room today, so we
can burn wood in it this winter to keep warm. I
washed and mended clothes.
October 10th, 1946 (Friday) Janos Baier
received a letter from home, it was dated July the 6th.
As of then, his family was safe and healthy.
October 11th, 1946 (Saturday) The way to
the camp is terrible. They keep on pushing us. We
are all so weak, we can barely walk. How many of us
will survive this winter? If this keeps us, then
October 12th, 1946 (Sunday) I sold a bar
of soap for 30 ruble and bought cornbread and sugar.
October 13th, 1946 (Monday) I was
especially hungry and tired today. I could hardly
walk back from the mine. I sold a chest today.
October 14th, 1946 (Tuesday) Many can
only buy their bread ration, they are cooking their
own beet soup, everything else is too expensive at
the bazaar. If this keeps up, we’ll all starve.
October 15th, 1946 (Tuesday) There was a
hard frost this morning, with an icy wind all day.
We almost froze. I bought two food rations tonight.
October 16th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I was in the city and at the bazaar all day,
otherwise, they make me work if I’m in the camp.
October 17th, 1946 (Thursday) I lost my
pocket knife today. It was from home. The only
thing I have left now is this diary.
October 18th, 1946 (Friday) Cloudy, cold
weather. Received a shirt from the camp today, my
old one was very bad.
October 19th, 1946 (Saturday) We’re all
dizzy and always hungry. They cried the entire day,
“Bistra, Robota” (work faster). Most of us could
barely walk, we’re so weak.
October 20th, 1946 (Sunday) Snow and
rain mixed today. We were freezing and thoroughly
soaked. When I came back to the camp, I received my
first mail from home in 21 months. Heinrich (my
son) wrote that he passed his tests and graduated
from the school in Kecskemet, Hungary. I was
overjoyed to hear it and it gave me new hope that I
might one day be able to return home.
October 21st, 1946 (Monday) It’s been 21
months since we’ve been captured. In exchange for
wood scraps, received two pieces of corncakes and a
˝ liter of milk. It tasted very good.
October 22nd, 1946 (Tuesday) A cold rain
all day. The way to the mine is very hard to
maneuver. Many die on the way to or from the mine.
October 23rd, 1946 (Wednesday) They
re-assigned the third group to the first. Half of
their numbers are already dead, they sent the old
and sick away. More and more Russians are working
in the mine now, not many of us remain. I was not
allowed my day off.
October 24th, 1946 (Thursday) I sold a
chest for 25 ruble and bought food to cook tonight.
It was very cold and it snowed the entire day.
October 25th, 1946 (Friday) In exchange
for wood scraps, received some food. I have great
hunger day and night. Now the winter is just
October 26th, 1946 (Saturday) Worked
making shovels and pick axes. I made a wooden
lean-to for a little protection from the wind and
snow. Many people lie in the camp, waiting on death
to relieve them from their suffering and hunger.
October 27th, 1946 (Sunday) The work
still goes on in three shifts. They brought in more
Russians to replace our dead. How many will die
before the spring?
October 28th, 1946 (Monday) I received
four corn cobs in exchange for scrap wood. I was so
hungry, I couldn’t wait for them to get soft, so I
ate them half-cooked.
October 29th, 1946 (Tuesday) I sold a
chest for 25 ruble and bought food. All the money I
can get goes towards food.
October 30th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I walked the 3 kilometers to the city to
secure food, and received sugar beets and corn. I
can cook twice with it. My hunger goes non-stop.
October 31st, 1946 (Thursday) The last
day of October. I sold an old pair of shoes for 140
ruble and bought food.
November 1st, 1946 (Friday) I received
my second postcard from home today! I’ve been gone
from home almost two years already. It took four
months for the card to arrive. They were all okay.
November 2nd, 1946 (Saturday) Cold,
windy weather. I bought an extra bowl of soup, I
was so hungry. There isn’t much food available at
the bazaar anymore.
November 3rd, 1946 (Sunday) This is
already our third winter. Of the one left, who will
survive? There is only a third of us left (1,380
people left from the original 4,600). Of those that
are left, half of us can’t work anymore. They lie
in the camp sick and starving.
November 4th, 1946 (Monday) I sold a
blue shirt for 55 ruble and bought a piece of meat
and potatoes. That was a new thing.
November 5th, 1946 (Tuesday) Very cold
weather. I exchanged three shovels for cornmeal.
Now I can cook three meals with it.
November 6th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. Had to work in the camp in exchange for a
small piece of bread.
November 7th, 1946 (Thursday) Our 19th
wedding anniversary. I am so all alone in this
great hell hole, starving. Our wedding day was so
nice, we ate, drank and danced. Now I’m here
half-starved. I hope my family is faring better
than I am.
November 8th, 1946 (Friday) My thoughts
were at home all day. If we don’t get released
soon, then we’ll never see our families again, just
like the thousands that lie in their mass grave for
November 9th, 1946 (Saturday) Heavy fog
this morning, it made our clothing wet and damp. We
froze all day. It is indescribable what goes on
here. Our families would not recognize us today, we
look so bad.
November 10th, 1946 (Sunday) It rained
the whole night. It was a mess walking to the mine,
a lot of people got stuck in the muck.
November 11th, 1946 (Monday) I traded a
piece of soap for two meat cakes and corn cakes.
I’m so hungry.
November 12th, 1946 (Tuesday) I exchanged
wood scraps for a meat soup and corn cakes. My
hunger is so great, that’s the only thing I can
November 13th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I paid extra for another soup and cornmeal.
Still very hungry.
November 14th, 1946 (Thursday) They sent
50 men off today. It was a total surprise. Janos
Baier from my hometown of Harta, Hungary was also
included. Two months ago, he cut his leg with a
rusty piece of iron. It never healed. Where they
were sent to, no one said.
November 15th, 1946 (Friday) Since the
harvest was so bad, many people had to slaughter
their animals, as they didn’t have any food to feed
November 16th, 1946 (Saturday) A snow
storm with icy wind the entire day. We were
freezing cutting wood. The wood is wet and frozen,
hard to cut. My hands were so cold they almost made
me cry from the pain.
November 17th, 1946 (Sunday) Snow and
cold. I spent the whole day at the saw, they need
lots of wood. I bought mashed potatoes from a
Russian for 7 ruble.
November 18th, 1946 (Monday) With the
food they give us, it is impossible to stay alive.
They brought more Russians to work in the mine, to
replace those of us who’ve died.
November 19th, 1946 (Tuesday) We are all
only skin and bones. My body is full of fluids, my
legs are as thick as an elephant’s. We are always
dizzy, have constant headaches and can only think
about relieving our hunger.
November 20th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I bought potatoes and fish for 8 ruble. Cold
and rainy weather. More people are dying in this
miserable weather. They don’t even complain, they
just fall asleep and die. It is shameful that they
are buried without their clothing, without a casket,
just thrown in a communal home in the ground.
November 21st, 1946 (Thursday) It’s been
22 months since they captured us and brought us to
this evil place. Over a thousand of us have already
died. For two weeks already, they are only cooking
beet soup. The beets are already spoiled and stink,
but they still use them to feed us. Most people are
only eating their dry piece of bread and drink warm
November 22nd, 1946 (Friday) Bitter cold
today. Many people collapsed on the way to the mine
November 23rd, 1946 (Saturday) My day
off. I went into a village four kilometers away and
bought some potatoes. I also begged and received
some squash and beets to cook later in the camp.
You will starve with only the camp food.
November 24th, 1946 (Sunday) Today is
Katarina Names Day. How often have we celebrated
this day! There is nothing here to eat or drink.
In my thoughts, I was at home with my family. I
wrote a card to them. I had a sorrowful evening.
November 25th, 1946 (Monday) I bought
fish from Russians at the mine for 10 ruble and
cooked it at night. It was something different.
I’m working mostly on making shovel handles from
birch, I can also make shoe soles from it. I can
usually trade the shoe soles for food.
November 26th, 1946 (Tuesday) Very
cold. I bought a meat cake and a corn cake at the
mine and ate them right away. It was a nice change
from the beet soup. They pushed us harder than usual
November 27th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. Our roommate, Michael Ulrich from Csepel,
Budapest, went to sleep for eternity today. Just
like all the rest, we buried him, without clothes,
without a casket. He doesn’t have to suffer from
the cold and hunger anymore.
November 28th, 1946 (Thursday) Cold,
windy weather. Our situation is so terrible, it’s
all so hopeless that we’ll ever see our homes again.
November 29th, 1946 (Friday) Pay day. I
received two weeks pay of 120 ruble. In the camp
kitchen this evening, they stole 115 ruble from
Andreas Vejtei. He had a very sad evening! I had
bought food at the bazaar for 28 ruble, I cooked it
and shared it with him.
November 30th, 1946 (Saturday) I bought
corn cakes for 10 ruble, but am still very hungry.
I am always hungry, my stomach growls constantly.
December 1st, 1946 (Sunday) Our problems
are cold and hunger. It is a wonder that some of us
still exist. We have to endure unmentionable
December 2nd, 1946 (Monday) No doctor,
no medicine here. The sick just have to put up with
their suffering until they die.
December 3rd, 1946 (Tuesday) It got
warmer today, the roads are all muddy, the trucks
couldn’t get through. Men had to unload the trucks
and carry the wood 150 meters to the mine.
December 4th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. Today was the first day that a doctor was
actually here in the camp! The doctor checked out
all the sick people, including me.
December 5th, 1946 (Thursday) I bought
fish and corn cakes at the mine for 12 ruble and ate
everything right away. It was a Russian holiday
today, so I had to go into the mine and shovel out
coals for the red army. Even those who worked in
the kitchen had to work in the mine.
December 6th, 1946 (Friday) The ground is
once again frozen over. We received more wood.
It’s so green and frozen, that the sparks just fly
when you try and cut it. The sick just lie in the
infirmary, and when death takes them, more sick
people take their places.
December 7th, 1946 (Saturday) A cold
blustery, wind. It was so cold we almost froze
working on the saw. I bought fish from a Russian at
the mine for 8 ruble, and ate it right away.
Another roommate, Martin Lieber from Csepel,
Hungary, died today. He was buried with two others
December 8th, 1946 (Sunday) Extremely
cold weather. I was constantly at the fire trying
to warm and dry up my gloves. I bought an extra
portion tonight at the camp for 4 ruble, but was
still very hungry.
December 9th, 1946 (Monday) Cloudy
weather. I bought a piece of bread from a Russian
for 5 ruble. Worked at the saw today. If you stood
still, you almost froze. We can barely walk.
December 10th, 1946 (Tuesday) I bought
fish for 8 ruble. In exchange for wood scraps, I
received two corn cakes. My hunger is enormous.
December 11th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off. I washed clothes and mended my winter coat. A
twenty year old German-Hungarian died today. With
all the dead, they’ve closed off some rooms and put
the survivors in other places.
December 12th, 1946 (Thursday) In
exchange for wood scraps, I received mashed
potatoes. “Razzia” (Russian for roundup) again
today. The Russians stole 250 pengo of my Hungarian
money and any other thing that they wanted.
December 13th, 1946 (Friday) Cold and
windy, 38 degrees. Worked out in the open all day.
It was pay day, but most people didn’t receive
anything after they deducted for the miserable camp
food. You’ll starve on only beet and cabbage soup.
December 14th, 1946 (Saturday) I went to
a small village and begged for food. I was able to
beg for potatoes, sugar beets and corn. At home,
only the gypsies begged for food, as they never
worked. Here in our paradise, we have to work and
beg for food.
December 15th, 1946 (Sunday) Our
roommate Matyas Kaszner died today. He was from
Madocsa. Every day, the sick end their suffering
and enter eternity.
December 16th, 1946 (Monday) I worked
the entire day on the saw. It was very cold. In
exchange for wood scraps, two Russians gave me
food. A group of fresh new Russians came to the
mine to work today.
December 17th, 1946 (Tuesday) It was –35
degrees (- 35 F) today with a strong wind. The snow
flew like dry sand in the summer. It was a hard day
December 18th, 1946 (Wednesday) My day
off, but they made me and sixteen other men dig a
hole two hundred meters from the camp to bury the
dead. The ground is already frozen 30 – 40
centimeters deep, we had to use picks to hack the
December 19th, 1946 (Thursday) I traded
a shovel for bread and baked squash. Presently, I
can still get food for shoe soles or wood scraps.
December 20th, 1946 (Friday) A bitter
cold, had to work in it all day. We were freezing.
We are only skin and bones, how many of us will
survive this winter?
December 21st, 1946 (Saturday) It’s been
23 months today since they captured us. I received
food in exchange for wood scraps from a Russian.
The local Russians can’t buy any wood, there isn’t
any for sale and the forest is very far away from
here. They receive coals from the mine to burn.
The misery is also great among the local people, the
summer was too dry for much to grow.
December 22nd, 1946 (Sunday) Another hard
day at the mine. Very cold and windy. I sawed wood
all day. They need a lot of wood. The young
Russians work like crazy. Received corn cakes in
exchange for scrap wood.
December 23rd, 1946 (Monday) Received a
600 gram bar of soap, and traded it for beans and
cornmeal to cook at night.
December 24th, 1946 (Tuesday) We had a
miserable Christmas Eve. Our thoughts were at
home. Hopefully, they have it better than we do.
December 25th, 1946 (Wednesday)
Christmas Day. I had a day off and went to the
bazaar to buy 400 grams of beef, a teaspoon of fat,
an onion and four potatoes for 50 ruble. Andreas
Vejtei and I made a goulash and ate it together.
This is now our second Christmas here in this evil
December 26th, 1946 (Thursday) Today is
my names day. At home, we always celebrated by
going dancing in the evening. Now I am stuck here.
I feel asleep hungry and sad.
December 27th, 1946 (Friday) We talked
about home all day today, wondering what they had to
eat and drink during the holidays. I received two
potatoes and a piece of squash and cooked them
together. Half of us are too sick and weak to work
anymore, they are slowly starving to death.
December 28th, 1946 (Saturday) I went
begging again in the village. They gave me some
potatoes, beets and a few pieces of squash. I
cooked it later that night. If you can’t get extra
food, you’ll starve.
December 29th, 1946 (Sunday) Very cold.
The wind blew the snow so hard that you couldn’t see
30 meters in front of you. For the first time here
ever, we received a piece of white bread at the
camp. There men in our room were buried.
December 30th, 1946 (Monday) Every day,
more and more people can’t make the walk to the
mine. They collapse and fall dead. Most are so
weak that they don’t even whine, they just fall dead
in their sleep.
December 31st, 1946 (Tuesday) The last
day of the year. They reduced our bread ration, now
we only get a piece of bread the size of a small
hand for the day. They must think it’s taking us
too long to starve to death, they’ll have to speed
up the process! A lot of people sold their winter
clothes last summer for food. Now they walk around
freezing in their summer clothes. People can’t
understand what they’ve done to us.
December 31st, 1946 (Tuesday) New Years
Eve. I bought 600 grams of goat meat, bacon, beans,
two potatoes and two onions for 62 ruble. A. Vejtei
and I spent the evening until midnight cooking it,
then we ate it until 1 a.m. We sold ourselves, that
no matter what lies ahead, at least we can say that
we ate in the year 1947! It’s been a long,
sorrowful, painful year. Just about one third of us
remain here. We had hopes that they might send us
home so that we might once more see our homelands
again, but it never happened. So many of those at
home are waiting on the return of their loved ones,
but thousands will never return, as they are resting
for eternity in a strange, foreign land. They were
buried without clothes, without a casket, not even a
burial marker. What God has let happen, there is
nothing we can do to change it! We that are still
living have a small hope that we can eventually
return to our families. I am only still alive
because I didn’t have to work in the mine. Right at
the beginning, I was assigned to work with wood. An
old Russian, who is 69 years old, has helped me a
lot. He often brought me food back with him from
his noon meal. In exchange for wood scraps, shoe
soles and shovels, I also received food from
Russians. I wrote in my little book every day the
important things that have happened. While I
couldn’t write a lot, what I wrote is the truth
about what happened to me and the other captives.
January 1st, 1947 (Wednesday) In God’s
name, we begin this new year with the hope that we
won’t have to suffer imprisonment, sickness and
starvation much longer this year. The outlook is
very doubtful. Over half of our original 4,600 are
already dead. The rest of us are sick and hungry.
A. Vejtei and I bought a piece of squash from a
Russian for 15 ruble. That was our New Years Day
January 2nd, 1947 (Thursday) Bitter
cold, worked on the saw all day. Received corn
cakes in exchange for wood scraps. Josef Mattheis
from Vaskut, Hungary, died today.
January 3rd, 1947 (Friday) The mine gave
us a jacket and gloves today. The gloves are too
late for many, as they have already gotten frostbite
and can’t work, can’t move their hands.
January 4th, 1947 (Saturday) I made
shovels today and exchanged two for cornmeal and
beans to cook at night.
January 5th, 1947 (Sunday) Cold and
windy. Hunger and sorrow are rampant here, even
among the local people. There is very little food
available at the bazaar.
January 6th, 1947 (Monday) The snow is 1
meter high. I’m sick today with a heavy cold and
fever of 41 degrees (105.8 F). They still made me
work in the camp repairing doors and windows.
January 7th, 1947 (Tuesday) My fever
went down to 39 degrees (102.2 F), so I had to
work. I almost froze outside, it’s so cold and
January 8th, 1947 (Wednesday) Sick again
today. They brought back from the camp Arnold
Martin, my relative from Harta. He had a 41 degree
fever. We carried him to the infirmary. All of us
still alive from Harta visited him at night, he
didn’t recognize us, he kept on asking for water.
January 9th, 1947 (Thursday) Those that
are carried into the infirmary, seldom return from
there alive. There is no medicine. We visited
Arnold Martin again tonight, he was so still and
quite, his end is near.
January 10th, 1947 (Friday) Arnold
Martin died this afternoon. All of us from Harta
buried him at night.
January 11th, 1947 (Saturday) The card I
sent home on October 24th, 1946 was
returned to me today. I went to work today, I could
barely walk to the mine, I’m so weak. I made a few
shovels, I was so tired and so cold.
January 12th, 1947 (Sunday) I sold a
shirt at the bazaar for 75 ruble. I bought beets
and squash at the bazaar, there was nothing else to
buy. The prices are very high. The famine in this
area was catastrophic.
January 13th, 1947 (Monday) A snow storm
and bitter cold. The four kilometer walk to the
mine takes 1 ˝ hours. Most of us can’t walk that
far anymore. Two more dead today, they no longer
have to suffer cold and hunger.
January 14th, 1947 (Tuesday) Pay day. I
received 110 ruble for two weeks, just enough to
cover the camp food.
January 15th, 1947 (Wednesday) My day
off, but I had to work in the mine. We have to work
seven days a week now so that we die quicker. On
the way to the mine, one person collapsed and died
in the snow.
January 16th, 1947 (Thursday) I am
presently making shovels and pick axes out of birch
January 17th, 1947 (Friday) A clear day,
but bitter cold. I’m sick in the camp with a 41
January 18th, 1947 (Saturday) Still sick
in the camp. My legs are so thick and full of
fluids, I can’t put my pants on. I am in total
desperation, which is the beginning of the end for
January 19th, 1947 (Sunday) A. Vejtei
brought me bread and squash from the bazaar. That
was the only thing I ate, no water.
January 20th, 1947 (Monday) Exchanged
wood scraps for beans and cornmeal today. I cooked
them together at night. It helped fill up my
stomach, the camp soup is only salt water.
January 21st, 1947 (Tuesday) It’s been
exactly two years today that they captured us and
took us to this hell hole. It feels like an
eternity already, in these horrific circumstances. I
am only still alive because I’m working with wood
and not in the mine.
January 22nd, 1947 (Wednesday) Gyuri
Lori from Hajos, Hungary died today. I’m only
recording the deaths of people on our floor and work
with us in our mine. People in this camp work at
eight various mines. No day off today.
January 23rd, 1947 (Thursday) A
miserable severe snowstorm and very cold. Two men
collapsed on their way to the mine. By the time
guards arrived to carry them back, they were already
frozen to death. It almost happened to me, too.
January 24th, 1947 (Friday) No day off
today, either. They delivered a huge supply of
timber to the mine yesterday. Now we have to work
like crazy to make it into wood supplies. Received
two meal cards for the extra work.
January 25th, 1947 (Saturday) Cold, wind
and snow. It took us two hours just to walk the 4
kilometers to the mine. We worked all day and only
received food when we returned at night. It’s so
crazy here. They brought more Russians to replace
January 26th, 1947 (Sunday) The wind
blew the snow the whole day. We are dying from cold
January 27th, 1947 (Monday) It was – 36
degrees ( - 36 F) today. Received from the camp
felt-lined boots, I can barely put them on, my legs
are so swollen. They buried ten men yesterday, the
ground is so frozen that they couldn’t dig graves,
they just covered them up with snow.
January 28th, 1947 (Tuesday) Bitter cold
today. The wood is so frozen, it just sparks when
you cut it. We still have to continue, as they need
wood in the mine. We have no names here, only
numbers. When our number is up, they replace us
January 29th, 1947 (Wednesday) No day
off, had to work again today. They need wood
desperately. There was no bread this morning, the
delivery truck got stuck in the snow. I exchanged
wood scraps for a piece of bread and corn cakes.
January 30th, 1947 (Thursday) It was –
38 degrees ( - 38 F) today, bitter cold. Seven men
died today. It’s no wonder so many people die with
the meager food and bitter cold conditions. If we
aren’t released soon, then we’ll all end up in the
hole with those that are already dead.
January 31st, 1947 (Friday) No one can
believe what goes on here. We are no longer human
beings, only skeletons. The ones that can still
stand up are ordered to work out in this bitter
cold. Many collapse on the way to the mine, at the
mine, on the way back. Their only relief from
suffering is death.
February 1st, 1947 (Saturday) A very
cold wind that kept us freezing the entire day.
Tonight, someone stole 102 ruble, my chest and my
food cards from me! Now I’m really stuck here! I
suspect someone from Hajos.
February 2nd, 1947 (Sunday) I’m sick in
the camp. I gave a pair of underwear to A. Vejtei
to sell for me at the bazaar – so I will have enough
money to pay for the camp food until the next pay
February 3rd, 1947 (Monday) They took
blood from my arm and spritzed it into my legs. My
entire back and legs are full of abscesses. I am
fading fast, if I can ever return to work is very
doubtful. I have a 41 degree fever and have great
February 4th, 1947 (Tuesday) I sold my
felt-lined boots for 350 ruble in order to buy food
to survive. I am laying in the infirmary now. Most
of my friends and A. Vejtei come at night to visit
me. My pain is very great now. Most people end up
dead after being admitted to the infirmary.
February 5th, 1947 (Wednesday) An
abscess broke open today on the back, it really
hurt! Janos Gross from Csavoly, Hungary, went to
sleep for eternity today. I bought a piece of
sunflower seed cake, I chewed on it the entire day.
February 6th, 1947 (Thursday) Two more
people died in the infirmary today. They were so
weak, they just died in their sleep. Everything is
hopeless, nothing to eat, no medicine. We have to
keep it up until we’ve shed our last drop of blood,
then it ends.
February 7th, 1947 (Friday) Snow and
rain today. I’m still sick in the camp, but am no
longer in the death chamber (infirmary). I never
thought I’d made it back alive out of there. My
hunger is enormous, but have nothing to eat.
February 8th, 1947 (Saturday) I had to
go to work today, I could barely manage it. I had
to make shovels, they were out of them. The old
Russian, Ingehor, brought me some deer stew back
from his lunch. I exchange for wood scraps, I
received a piece of bread.
February 9th, 1947 (Sunday) I sold a
winter coat for 200 ruble. I can only think about
food. For lack of food, I am so dizzy. I often
black-out and can’t think straight anymore.
February 10th, 1947 (Monday) I worked
today, but I was so weak and dizzy, I couldn’t do
much. It took me forever to walk back to the camp.
Most of the sick here are so weak, many can’t even
walk to the camp kitchen for their bowl of soup.
February 11th, 1947 (Tuesday) I am so
weak that I stayed in the camp sick. My knee is so
swollen, I think it will soon rip my skin apart.
Every day, 2 –3 people die. There is no more hope
to see our homes and families again.
February 12th, 1947 (Wednesday) Still
sick in camp today. I am so very hungry. It can
drive you crazy seeing the poor sick people here
slowly starving to death.
February 13th, 1947 (Thursday) Every day
the same, nothing to eat. Every day, 1 – 2 people
find eternal rest. The weather will not let up,
it’s still snowy and bitter cold.
February 14th, 1947 (Friday) Sick in the
camp. I have two huge abscesses on the back, they
are extremely painful. Pay day, you can only get
beets or sometimes corn cakes.
February 15th, 1947 (Saturday) I went to
work today, my fever was 39 degrees (102.2 F). My
knee is as thick as a person’s head. I had to rip
open my pant legs to get them on. The pain is
severe. I can only walk very, very slowly. Got
bread and cooked corn from the Russians.
February 16th, 1947 (Sunday) I bought a
piece of goat meat and cooked it tonight. I even
ate the bones. Three more dead today. They are all
buried without their clothes, with no casket.
February 17th, 1947 (Monday) I bought
sunflower seeds and corn grains for 8 ruble, and
cooked it at night. Still hungry.
February 18th, 1947 (Tuesday) The world
would not believe what goes on here.
February 19th, 1947 (Wednesday) Received
a new jacket from the mine. I have six abscesses on
my back and my knee is so swollen that I can barely
walk. I have constant pain all day. They brought
in some more Russians to replace our dead. It seems
our group keeps on shrinking, soon they’ll be no one
left to go back home anymore.
February 20th, 1947 (Thursday) In
exchange for wood scraps, some Russian women gave me
corn cakes and a warm bowl of soup. The weather
will never get better, it still snows and is cold.
There is no hope of ever being released from here.
February 21st, 1947 (Friday) It’s been
25 months today since they took us from home. Over
half of us are already dead, no one cares what
happens to us. We are innocents. I could scream to
the heavens and ask why so many innocent people have
to suffer these terrible injustices, then endure
pain and hunger, and die.
February 22nd, 1947 (Saturday) Today is
two years since we’ve been dumped here in this
camp. There was a total of 4,600 people sent here,
750 Romanian, 1,600 from Hungary and 2,150 from
Ober-Schlesien. They sent 400 old and sick away,
1,700 remain here somewhat alive, and 2,500 rest in
eternal peace here.
February 23rd, 1947 (Sunday) I’m sick in
the camp, still have swollen legs and knees. My
right knee is especially painful. I cooked beans
and barely for myself.
February 24th, 1947 (Monday) Still sick
in the camp. I can’t walk, my knee is as thick as a
February 25th, 1947 (Tuesday) Still sick
in the camp. My legs are so swollen and full of
water, my skin will soon pop. I sold a shirt and
underpants for 50 ruble and bought cooked oats. I
chew on them during the day to help my hunger.
February 26th, 1947 (Wednesday) Still
sick. Every day, 2 – 3 people on our floor died,
they are relieved of their hunger and suffering.
February 27th, 1947 (Thursday) Andreas
Kekesi from my hometown, Harta, lost three fingers
on the saw today. I received only 50 ruble from the
mine today. I sold a piece of soap to buy food.
Pain and hunger are my constant companions.
February 28th, 1947 (Friday) Still
sick. I was out sick 17 days this month, and only
worked 11 days. This is the hardest period I’ve
ever had to experience in my life. I was so sick
already, I was afraid that if I feel asleep, I
wouldn’t wake up anymore! I’ve pretty much given up
on every seeing my home and family again!
March 1st, 1947 (Saturday) A cold wind
and much snow. I am still sick. My legs and knee
are still swollen and hurt severely. Whenever I try
to stand, I get dizzy and pass out. How much
March 2nd, 1947 (Sunday) Still sick.
I’m supposed to repair doors, but whenever I get up
or turn around, I pass out. The pain and hunger are
March 3rd, 1947 (Monday) Still sick. In
the last three weeks, I was only able to work four
days. I don’t have any money to pay for the camp
food. Now they’re giving me the camp soup free.
Everything is going from bad to worse. Now someone
stole my scarf, gloves and socks!
March 4th, 1947 (Tuesday) This can’t go
on much longer, every day, I’m getting worse. Every
day, 2 – 3 more are freed of their hunger and pain.
March 5th, 1947 (Wednesday) Clear, cold
weather. A. Vejtei brought me cooked oats from the
bazaar. I cooked a sort of coffee from it. I’m not
drinking any water.
March 6th, 1947 (Thursday) I sold a blue
jacket and a belt for 69 ruble. I bought a piece of
bread and a bowl of soup from the camp kitchen. I’m
starving. I can’t think about anything else other
than food. People are falling like the flies in the
March 7th, 1947 (Friday) It looks like
I’ll never return to work and that everything will
end. My legs are full of water and my back is full
of abscesses. So much pain!
March 8th, 1947 (Saturday) Still haven’t
been back to work. No work, no pay. I have sold
almost everything I own except for the clothes on my
back in order to eat.
March 9th, 1947 (Sunday) Still in the
camp. My hunger is great, my whole body is now full
of abscesses and is swollen with fluids. Other
people have already taken their own lives in order
to end their suffering, they couldn’t take any
more. I still want to be able to go home!
March 10th, 1947 (Monday) A big to-do in
the camp. A commission came in and told them they
have to give the camp food out for free to those
that are sick and can’t work. They only give you
saltwater. They steal whatever they want from you
and sell it to buy vodka. They are usually drunk.
March 11th, 1947 (Tuesday) They moved
Heinrich Schneider and me today from our room. For
two years, I had been living there with A. Vejtei.
We slept next to one another, worked together,
cooked and helped each other out. Now we’ve been
March 12th, 1947 (Wednesday) They sent
us to a really bad spot. There are only sick people
who can’t work anymore. They steal whatever they
March 13th, 1947 (Thursday) Andreas
Stadler from Hajos, Hungary died today. As of
today, we receive a piece of bread as big as a small
hand and twice a day saltwater. This food will only
hasten our deaths.
March 14th, 1947 (Friday) Now we are as
near death as those removed from the infirmary to
the death chamber, to fall asleep into eternity.
March 15th, 1947 (Saturday) Today was
always a holiday back home, slaves were freed in
1848. Now 99 years later, we’re still slaves.
March 16th, 1947 (Sunday) The days are
getting sadder. The camp food is so weak and
meager, you won’t last. My legs are still very
swollen and now I have a terrible pain in my left
chest that just throbs.
March 17th, 1947 (Monday) I fixed tables
and benches in the kitchen and received 20 food
passes. I sold them for 50 ruble and bought a piece
of bread and sugar for 25 ruble.
March 18th, 1947 (Tuesday) I have major
headaches today, and am dizzy. I cant’s stand up.
I bought coffee for 10 ruble, someone stole it from
March 19th, 1947 (Wednesday) As of
today, I receive third class food portions
consisting of twice a day soup, two teaspoonfuls of
cornmeal and a small piece of bread. This helps
prolong my agony somewhat.
March 20th, 1947 (Thursday) The snow is
gradually melting. We hope that it gets warmer
soon. The burial holes are 150 meters from the
camp. Over the winter, the ground was frozen, so
they buried the dead in only snow. Now some of the
dead are being washed out of the snow. The stench
is terrible. They will have to use machines to dig
holes and bury them. I wouldn’t have believed this
went on, if I hadn’t have seen it with my own eyes.
There is no respect for human beings here.
March 21st, 1947 (Friday) It’s been 26
months today since they captured us, and 790 days
since we’ve been imprisoned here in this human
misery. It’s amazing that we all haven’t starved to
death yet. Every day, 3 – 4 people died on our
March 22nd, 1947 (Saturday) Cloudy
weather. A hopeless future.
March 23rd, 1947 (Sunday) The days are
long here in the camp. Many are only skin and
bones, they can’t even walk or stand anymore. I
can’t think about anything by eating, I’ve already
sold all my winter clothes in order to buy food.
March 24th, 1947 (Monday) Still sick.
I’m trying everything to get better. I don’t want
to go into the hole. It looks hopeless, my legs are
still swollen, I have great pain and am very dizzy.
I had to hold onto things in order to walk. A.
Vejtei cooked beans and cornmeal for me and brought
it to my room.
March 25th, 1947 (Tuesday) The sun is
shining through the window. I am sitting in our
room, what are they doing at home? What are they
cooking? I can only think about my hunger, it
plagues me day and night.
March 26th, 1947 (Wednesday) I received
two cards from home today, one from November 1946
and one from January 23rd, 1947. They
are all still healthy. They wrote about my building
supply business, it made me very happy. The cards
gave me renewed courage, I have to return home, I
can’t die here!
March 27th, 1947 (Thursday) We have to
take two pills a day to ward off malaria. For the
first time every, the Red Cross was here today!
Everyone received a typhus shot. Nothing else
March 28th, 1947 (Friday) The doctor saw
me today. He told me I had to go back to work on
April 1st. My knee is still swollen.
March 29th, 1947 (Saturday) Two more
died in our room today. I am still sick, weak,
dizzy and in pain. I am too weak to work.
March 30th, 1947 (Sunday) I’ve already
sold off all my clothes. I don’t know how I can
make the 4 kilometer walk each way to the mine.
March 31st, 1947 (Monday) I only worked
11 days in February and 0 days in March. I am still
too weak to work, but I’m anxious to get out of this
room, as this is where people come to die. Every
day, many went to their eternal rest here!
April 1st, 1947 (Tuesday) The weather is
better, but the roads are muddy. I went to the mine
today. I never thought I’d live to see the mine
again. It took me three hours to walk back to the
camp tonight, my legs and knee are so swollen, even
my muscles cried out in pain.
April 2nd, 1947 (Wednesday) The sun is
shining. I worked on the bench making shovels and
axes. I bought ˝ liter milk and two corn cakes from
some Russians. I received two cards from home, from
January 7th and 16th, they
were all still living.
April 3rd, 1947 (Thursday) They reduced
our bread portion. How can we survive?
April 4th, 1947 (Friday) Good Friday, a
fast day. We’ve been fasting since we got here two
years ago. I sent a card back home. I was sick
today, my right knee is as thick again as a human
April 5th, 1947 (Saturday) Sick in the
camp. My knee is going to put me in the hole! I
gave Peter Tell a towel and socks to sell at the
bazaar. I received 15 ruble, he bought me food with
April 6th, 1947 (Sunday) Easter Sunday.
Still sick. I couldn’t even eat an Easter egg
today, I didn’t have any money. I wrote a card back
home and thought about my family all day. There
have been more people who’ve taken their own lives
April 7th, 1947 (Monday) I went to work
today, but I could barely walk.
April 8th, 1947 (Tuesday) It rained the
whole day, the road was very slick and muddy. Many
people got stuck in the mud. Many collapsed in the
mud, some were carried back dead.
April 9th, 1947 (Wednesday) I made axes
and shovels. Sometimes I can trade one for food.
My knee is still swollen and painful. I can barely
April 10th, 1947 (Thursday) Now I have a
huge abscess on my neck. I can’t turn my head and
have terrible pain. They gave us rubber shoes.
There are very few of us still working, those that
haven’t died already are sick in the camp.
April 11th, 1947 (Friday) My throat, my
knee is killing me. I have major headaches and
hunger pains. I was at the mine today, but I could
barely do anything. No one can believe what we have
to endure here.
April 12th, 1947 (Saturday) I was even
worse today. On top of everything else, I got a
tremendous pain in my kidney area. I went to the
doctor in the evening, and was told not to eat any
more soup. I sold my food passes and bought
cornmeal at the bazaar. I’m cooking it without any
salt, and I’m not drinking any water.
April 13th, 1947 (Sunday) I was sick in
the camp today, but they made me work repairing
things in the kitchen. They made me cornmeal, I ate
twice until I was full. The sick lie in the yard.
April 14th, 1947 (Monday) I bought
acorns for 2 ruble at the bazaar, they are supposed
to help hunger pains. Some people ate raw oats,
they died two days later.
April 15th, 1947 (Tuesday) Sick again.
A. Vejtei brought corn cakes back, which I ate
instead of soup. Menyhard Hohman for Csaszartoltes,
Hungary and two others, died in our room today.
April 16th, 1947 (Wednesday) Still
sick. How long will this go on? The future is
hopeless, but I don’t want to stay here.
April 17th, 1947 (Thursday) Received
only 200 grams of bread today and three times a
watery soup. It seems as if they want to get rid of
those who can’t work anymore. They want me to work
in the camp, but I can barely walk.
April 18th, 1947 (Friday) Rain and
wind. Still sick. I sent a card for Christine’s 10th
birthday, and told them I’m still alive. How much
longer, is the question? I can barely walk alone,
my legs twitch and I am weak and dizzy.
April 19th, 1947 (Saturday) My knee is
still so thick and swollen, I had to cut my pants to
put them on. There is a rumor, that those who can’t
work anymore will soon go home, but who can believe
it. I still have money and buy myself some food
April 20th, 1947 (Sunday) The doctor
wrote me up for five more sick days. I’m supposed
to make her a small table and a stool. They gave me
the materials and tools. I can do it, but slowly.
The kitchen is giving me soup and bread twice a
April 21st, 1947 (Monday) It’s been 27
months since they captured us from home. I sold my
soup card and bought bread.
April 22nd, 1947 (Tuesday) The weather
is getting warmer. We warm ourselves in the yard,
just like the little baby birds with no feathers
April 23rd, 1947 (Wednesday) I finished
the table for the doctor and received some food
cards, which I traded for bread. There was another
rumor that the sick will soon be sent home. I wish
to God that it’s true. Three of the sick died
today, they went home.
April 24th, 1947 (Thursday) I’m now
working on the doctor’s stool. I’m supposed to make
benches for the kitchen. Now they’re always giving
me food passes, I trade them for bread. My knee is
a little thinner, but I still have severe pain. I
wouldn’t last the walk to and from the mine.
April 25th, 1947 (Friday) The doctor
wrote me up for three more sick days. She is now
taking blood from my arm and injecting it into my
back. She has to stab me 3 or 4 times until she can
get blood, it hurts.
April 26th, 1947 (Saturday) Today the
cook told me that I won’t have to work in the coal
mine anymore. I told him that I’ll probably be
going soon into the hole with all the other dead.
He said no, you will soon be going home. “Skora
Paschol po Doma”, we’ve heard these words two years
April 27th, 1947 (Sunday) I didn’t work
today, I laid in the room. It rained. There is
still talk about a transport taking the sick home.
Who can believe it, they’ve talked about us going
home for two years already.
April 28th, 1947 (Monday) The doctor
transferred blood again today from my arm to my
back. My abscesses are very bad! I sold a sack
from home to Peter Tell for 10 ruble, to buy food.
April 29th, 1947 (Tuesday) My legs are
still very swollen. I’m working in the kitchen
making benches, otherwise I’d definitely starve.
Another rumor about going home, a commission is
supposed to come. A. Vejtei and H. Schneider said
that they heard at the mine that the sick will be
April 30th, 1947 (Wednesday) Still
sick. I only worked ten days this month at the
mine. I received two cards from home today, from
October 27th and December 15th,
1946. They were all still living. Received 170
ruble pay from the mine and bought sugar and bread.
1st, 1947 (Thursday) Work goes on at the
mine even though it’s May Day. Those in charge of
the camp are all drunk. They used our food money to
buy themselves vodka. Those who are next to the
fire warm themselves, while the rest of us can
2nd, 1947 (Friday) A bid day here! At
last, the commission did arrive and freed some of
us, including me! I went to the doctor this
afternoon. She took me to the room where the
interviews were being held. Our camp leader is a
Schleiser, he put his own people on the list, not
me. The doctor spoke with two fat Russians, then my
name was added to the list to go home. Afterwards,
I went back to my room. The Schleiser came and
wanted to know how I was able to get on the list. I
told him the doctor had spoken with the men from the
commission. He came back again and told me I had to
wash the room down. He made me clean the room four
times, he wouldn’t leave me alone.
3rd, 1947 (Saturday) The Schlesier came
again this morning and made me wash the floor
again. After I washed the floor, he told me to take
my things, wash them, and bathe myself, because I’m
to go home. After that, I was so filled with
happiness, I couldn’t do anything. My whole body
shook in disbelief, I was so shocked and surprised.
It took 27 and ˝ months to hear the words I’d been
4th, 1947 (Sunday) I had to work until
midnight in the camp. I bought a piece of bread and
sugar. They added more people to the group going
home, Janos Kolb, Peter Knodel, Fritz Peters and
Salamon Helfrich. Now to clean clothes and bathe.
5th, 1947 (Monday) As of today, the camp
food is free to us going home. We can use the
rubles we still have to buy food at the bazaar.
They stole whatever things they liked from us. We
got haircuts and bathed. Those whose clothes were
too ratty, they gave them clothes taken from the
dead before burial. I still had to repair tables
and benches in the camp kitchen. The dammed
Schlesier was totally crazy.
6th, 1947 (Tuesday) In 1945, there were
4,500 people in this camp. We had to work in eight
various mines in the Lisicsansk area. Some people
worked in the building trades instead of the mines.
Now those sick people allowed to go home are being
put into one building that’s already been cleaned.
We are not allowed to mix with those left behind.
7th, 1947 (Wednesday) Sunny weather.
They assembled us in the camp yard and after
examining us, told us not to write anyone, nor take
anything with us. Now we really have hope about
8th, 1947 (Thursday) I gave my food
cards to A. Vejtei and Andreas Kekesi. I bought
bread and sugar for 20 ruble. We had to sign the
list for home transport. Those that still had bad
clothes were given better ones.
9th, 1947 (Friday) It’s been since May,
1945 that the war ended, but there’s over a hundred
thousand here in slave labor! In our camp alone,
over two thousand have died and now rest in eternal
10th, 1947 (Saturday) They asked for a
photo, those that didn’t have a photo had to pay for
one. They are still making money on us! Some
people had to sell their bread in order to get the
money to that low-based Schlesier!
11th, 1947 (Sunday) Franz Arnold, who
was in the group to go home, died today. We’ve been
bathing ourselves every day and washing our
clothes. It took six months when we first came here
to get a bath. Before that, we set up a bucket in
our room, so 30 – 40 people could take turns bathing
12th, 1947 (Monday) They sent bread,
food and cooking equipment ahead to the train
station in Lisicsansk. After a breakfast of soup,
bread and tea, they examined us in the yard. After
a noon meal, they assembled us out into the yard
again. We were closely watched by armed guards, so
that no one not on the list joins our group. The
night shift was in the camp. They were confined to
the buildings, they weren’t allowed onto the yard
with us. They stood in the windows, waved and cried
tears for themselves that they weren’t released. At
three in the afternoon, they opened up the doors to
the camp and we marched to the train station. They
had six train wagons there. In one wagon was our
food, in another, the kitchen and then four empty
wagons for us. The night was so long, we couldn’t
sleep from excitement and the fact that we were
sitting on hard wooden boards. We were in the death
camp from January 21st, 1945 until May 12th,
1947, 840 days.
13th, 1947 (Tuesday) I bought ˝ liter of
milk and six cubes of sugar for 8 ruble at the train
station. Our breakfast was oatmeal and tea. A
truck brought steps and wooden boards. I had to
measure them. Those that weren’t too weak helped me
to put a second level in all the cars, so that there
would be more room.
14th, 1947 (Wednesday) This morning,
three more died. We continued to work on dividing
the cars. By the afternoon, we had completed three
cars. Then they put the same number into each car.
The food was always the same, oatmeal and tea. We
were waiting on the train engine. A few trains came
by, but none picked us up.
15th, 1947 (Thursday) We’re still
standing on the tracks in Lisicsansk. Four people
died last night. Same food. I bought milk and
sugar again for 8 ruble. I traded a fork that I had
brought from home for some sunflower seeds. Still
no train for us.
16th, 1947 (Friday) Two more died in the
night. How many more will died before we arrive
home? Two more died in the afternoon. They took
the dead back by truck to the camp and bought eleven
more men to even out the count.
17th, 1947 (Saturday) After lunch, they
put all the cooking fear into a wagon. We were put
into the wagons, too. They counted all of us and
placed two armed guards in front of each wagon.
They didn’t want us to escape and return to the
camp! At five in the afternoon, a train pulled in,
picked us up and after five days at the train
station in Lisicsansk, we were off! Many of us
cried tears of happiness.
18th, 1947 (Sunday) We stopped in
Charkov to have breakfast. Two more died. They put
their bodies in the back car. At eleven in the
morning, we were heading over Poltana, in the
direction of Kiev. When they passed over farmland,
they stopped the train and buried five people next
to the railroad tracks.
19th, 1947 (Monday) Arrived in Kiev, the
capital of Ukraine. I bought ˝ liter milk at the
station for 5 ruble. Onwards, to Zsitomir,
Korosteny. At night, we arrived in Rokitno. We ate
beet soup and bread.
20th, 1947 (Tuesday) They stopped the
train in an open deserted area and buried four dead
in a shallow grave near the track. At night, we
stopped in Sarnye and ate dinner at the train
station. They we continued onwards.
21st, 1947 (Wednesday) It rained in the
morning. We are getting closer to the border. Two
people died in our wagon last night, Josef Kastater
from Gyorkony and Anton Lauks from Hogyesz. They
were buried together in a shallow grave next to the
22nd, 1947 (Thursday) It was cold in our
wagon at night. Two from our wagon died overnight
from Csepel, Anton Weiss and Josef Szeibert. A
truck took the dead away. We were on the Polish
border, at Brest-Lotovsk. You can see the difference
here, they are more civil.
23rd, 1947 (Friday) They transferred us
from the Russian wagons into smaller ones. The
weather was windy and cool. They finally gave us
food at three in the afternoon, a piece of bread and
24th, 1947 (Saturday) Franz Peier from
Csepel, died in our wagon today. They took his body
and two others away by truck. Here in Poland, no
one gets buried at the side of the tracks.
25th, 1947 (Sunday) Whitsunday. Ate
lunch in the train station at Siedlee, then went on
further. At night, we arrived in Warsaw, the
capital of Poland. We had dinner. Today we talked
non-stop about our homes, they will be eating their
Whitsunday cakes. It was always a nice holiday at
26th, 1947 (Monday) Whitmonday. At the
station in Sochazev, Polish women were selling white
bread and ham. Some of us disembarked the train and
spoke with the women. They women had sympathy upon
them, and gave them bread and ham. Peter Knodel
also received some and shared it with me. It was
very good, something new.
27th, 1947 (Tuesday) Over Warsaw/Posen,
the land was at first hilly, then it turned into
forests. They had beautiful, even fields and towns,
churches. The house all had red bricks and red
roofs. They had black-white cows, pigs, geese and
chickens, just like us at home.
28th, 1947 (Wednesday) Last night, we
cross over the river Oder and ended our ten day
train journey here in Frankfurt, East Germany (south
of Berlin). The sisters of the Red Cross gave us
bread, tinned meat and coffee for breakfast at 4 a.
m. We were quartered in a barrack, so we were able
to bathe right away. At 3 p.m., they gave us lunch
of soup, bread and a teaspoon of sugar. Afterwards,
they took our names, our birthdays and where our
homes are. Didn’t get any dinner.
29th, 1947 (Thursday) Breakfast and
lunch were the same, soup, bread and sugar. At 7
p.m. they turned us over to the East German Red
Cross and were put into another barrack right next
door to the Russian one. Now the Russians, with
their “Bistra, Robota” (work faster) are gone!
Those words will forever ring in my ears! The East
Germans registered us and wrote down where we wanted
to return to. The sun is warm already.
30th, 1947 (Friday) The same food, soup
and bread and sugar. The bread and sugar tastes
good, we are starting to feel better. Sadly, two
men and a woman died, one was from Csepel and the
other two from over the Danube. They won’t ever
reach their homelands. In the afternoon, they gave
us bread, sugar and marmalade to last us for two
31st, 1947 (Saturday) They took us to
the train station in the afternoon, and we were off
again. First we reached Furstenwald, then spent
three hours going through Berlin, then through
Stassburg, and Hettsted-Teitschentahl, where we
disembarked. At the train station, 54 men and
myself drank beer for the first time since our
imprisonment. In the meantime, our train left and
we stayed behind. They put our group on the next
train to Halle, but we were too late there, too.
Then they sent us to Leipzig.
June 1st, 1947 (Sunday) They put us in a
temporary barrack in Altenburg. After that great
excitement, we were able to bathe and sleep.
June 2nd, 1947 (Monday) Very warm
weather. Our breakfast was bread, sugar and
coffee. Our lunch consisted of vegetable soup and
bread. They gave us a bread/sugar/marmalade portion
for tomorrow. At 11 p.m., we left by train towards
Weissenfels, in Sachsen-Anhalt.
June 3rd, 1947 (Tuesday) We arrived in
Weissenfels at 3 in the afternoon. They gave us
tea, then soup and bread. Afterwards, we bathed and
were then assigned to a barrack with 22 men in one
room. They gave us here three meals a day, bread,
potatoes, vegetables, marmalade and sugar.
June 4th, 1947 (Wednesday) They kept us
here for five weeks, to recuperate and for
quarantine purposes. They were concerned about
communicative diseases. Everyone was looked at by a
doctor. For my right knee, they removed in the
beginning, 4 – 5 deci yellow water with a needles,
after two weeks, only 1 – 2 deci fluid needed to be
removed. It was so much better here than in
Russia. I bathed every day and laid in the sun to
nap. We didn’t receive much meat, but had bread,
potatoes, vegetables, margarine, marmalade and tea
June 5th, 1947 – August 20th,
1947 We spent five weeks recuperating in
Weissenfels, (state of Thuringen, then East Germany)
which was in the Russian zone. Afterwards, they
divided us up among the local farmers to work. I
worked for Otto Kohler, a small farmer in Niederboza.
Johann Kolb, Peter Knodel, Salamon Helfrich and
Johann Frits were also in the same village, working
for other farmers. Every day after work, we would
all meet and enjoy conversation. We continued to
recuperate here. We decided that we would escape
East Germany for West Germany on August 20th.
From there, we would make our way back home to
Hungary. The farmer I worked for gave me my own
room, and I had a white featherbed. Right across
the street from the farmer lived the village mayor.
Two days before our planned escape, I told the
Kohlers our plan. They didn’t have anything against
our leaving. The mayor gave us direction, to make
it across the board easier. The Kohlers packed up
three days worth of food for us and after midnight
on August 20th, we were off. It was a 26
kilometer walk in the night. As soon as we reached
the West German border, we slept in a hay field. In
the morning, we walked to Melrichstadt, which was in
the American zone.
August 21st, 1947 Traveled by train over
Schweinfurt, than Bamberg, until Nurnberg.
August 22nd, 1947 By train again, by way
of Regensburg to Vilshofen, which is on the Danube,
near Passau in lower Bavaria, Germany. There were
many people in the camp here that had fled Harta
because of the Russians. They gave us dinner and we
spoke until bed time.
August 23rd, 1947 By train to Passau.
In West Germany, they let us travel by train free.
We also received meals from many people. From
Passau, we traveled over the Inn river into
Austria. We got out in Linz, Austria and went to
the Red Cross. They gave us food and a place to
August 24th, 1947 I slept very well here
in Linz. The Red Cross gave me pants, a jacket and
shoes, what I had were only rags, all ripped up. We
looked around the city and received free food and
beer at in inn.
August 25th, 1947 After three days, the
Red Cross gave us train tickets to Vienna, Austria.
When we arrived in Vienna, we went straight to the
Hungarian consulate. The manager was from Harta,
Heinrich Gottschall. We recognized us right away.
They took our names and the addresses in Hungary
where we wanted to go. We celebrated the evening in
Heinrich’s home. His wife cooked for us. We told
them about our sorrowful imprisonment until
midnight, then went to sleep. In the morning after
breakfast, he took us back to the consulate. They
had our papers ready to go home.
August 27th, 1947 We traveled by train
from Vienna to the first train stop in Hungary,
Hegyeshalom. The border police took us. They gave
us bean soup and stood guard watching us the entire
night. We couldn’t sleep.
August 28th, 1947 Took the first train
to Komaron, Hungary. We were forced out of the
train and locked in a dark room. Towards evening,
they asked us our ethnicity and if our families were
still at home. Afterwards, they gave us bean soup
and we slept in the dark basement on straw.
August 29th, 1947 They took us out of
the dark cellar and fed us soup. Then, they
interviewed us again. They asked how we liked it in
Russian, who belonged to any ethnic party and what
we plan to do when we return home. Afterwards, they
made us work in the cellar, cleaning it. For three
days, we were imprisoned here. They gave us bread
for breakfast, soup for lunch and bean soup for
dinner. Every day, a few more people joined us in
September 1st, 1947 At eleven a.m., they
told us that we had to make ourselves ready very
quickly, we’re to go home. There were 27 of us from
various villages and towns in Hungary. Three armed
guards with bayonets on their rifles escorted us to
the train, where we traveled onto Budapest. We
arrived in Budapest at night. They arrested all of
us and threw us into a jail on Andrasi street.
September 2nd, 1947 I was on the third
floor of the prison, with eighty people in one
room. Three times a day, they gave us a spoonful of
bean soup and a small piece of black bread. It
wasn’t any better than in Russia, except we didn’t
have to work.
September 3rd, 1947 We were happy that
we were so close to our homes, but they treated us
as if we were the most vicious of criminals. Those
people whose relatives weren’t in Hungary anymore,
were shipped back to either Austria or East
Germany. After two weeks, they released Peter
Knodel, Salamon Helfrich and Janos Frits. Johann
Kolb and myself were still here. After another two
weeks, they let Johann Kolb return to Harta, I was
still here. Finally, they released me on October 17th,
1947. After thirty-three months, and about a
thousand days, I was able to return to my family.
Those days away were a very hard time not only for
me, but for my family.
October 18th, 1947 My whole family was
still at home upon my return! The new government
seized our house and property and gave it to a
Hungarian family from Czechoslovakia. We were forced
to live in three small rooms like servants in our
own home. I was still very sick, weak and swollen
with fluids. I was miserable. After two weeks, our
doctor sent me to the hospital in Budapest. At the
hospital, they didn’t have any medicine, nor food to
feed us. I kept on asking to go home. After three
weeks of taking fluid out of me, they let me go
home. The new government had already sent many of
our villagers to East Germany.
January 21st, 1948 The police encircled
our village in the middle of the night. They made
us and other families go to the culture house. They
wrote us up and by that afternoon, they put us in
cattle cars and sent us to Budapest. It’s been
three years since they first captured me to work in
a slave labor camp in the Ukraine, now this!
January 22nd, 1948 Now not only myself,
but now my family, must endure this sorrowful
existence. I was only home for three months. I’ve
already had to endure hunger, pain and suffering for
three years, now we all must share it. The greatest
injustice any man can do to another is to take away
his freedom, his house and his property. Our German
ancestors settled in Harta in the 1750’s. For over
two hundred years, Hungary was our home. Our
ancestors lived here in freedom, working hard and
living their lives. Now a world war has ended all
February 6th, 1948 After fifteen days in
the camp in Budapest, they let my parents and
grandmother return to Harta. The East Germans don’t
want anyone over the age of sixty.
February 20th, 1948 Sent off by train.
Traveled past Prague towards Sachsen in East
February 24th, 1948 Arrived in Domitsch,
East Germany and placed in a camp. We were
quarantined for six weeks, then they divided us up
and sent us to various towns and villages. We were
sent to Sangerhausen, a small village. We were
given two small rooms (for five people).
April 6th, 1948 We had three beds, five
chairs and an oven. Nothing else. Our personal
belongings lay in the floor in a corner.
April 7th, 1948 We received cards to buy
food. The only food to buy was oatmeal and dark
bread. They didn’t have any eggs, milk or fat
anymore until next month! What miserable
conditions. We chopped wood from the forest and
used it to cook and heat the room. The terrible
living conditions here gave us very little hope
towards the future. I was still very sick. My wife
pulled apart her wool scarf and knitted shoes with
the yarn. We added rubber soles from old bicycle
tires and traded the shoes for food. We were very
poor, had nothing.
5th, 1948 My mother-in-law and Andreas
Schnautigel came to visit us from Munich – Maisach.
They took our big, heavy personal items with them
and returned on the 6th.
7th, 1948 We went by a small train to
the border. We paid for the train trip with
cigarettes. At night, we crossed over the border
into the English zone near Walkenried, Gottingen.
In all the commotion, we left our plates and
utensils behinds. The police took us to a safe
house where others who had escaped from the east
were already. In the morning, a truck took all our
belongings, children and elderly to the train
station. The police told us we should go by train
until the outskirts of Kassel, then disembark and
take the local street car through the city to the
end station. Then, we were to take the next train
onwards. Kassel is in the American zone, we were
told that if they found anyone without the proper
identification, they send those people back to the
8th, 1948 By afternoon, we were at the
Kassel south train station and took a train towards
Wurzberg/Ingolstadt on the Danube. Our destination
9th, 1948 Arrived on Whitsunday in
Munich, where my in-laws were living. We caught up
on our many trials and tribulations. We also tried
to find a place to live, but there was nothing
available. We had to go to a transitional camp in
Schalding, near Passau.
18th, 1948 After a week, we arrived in
the camp. There were over two thousand displaced
people here. The camp living was better than in
East Germany. I was still sick and weak, had to go
often to the doctor.
June 20th, 1948 The new German Marks
were issued, every person was allowed to exchange
the new for 60 of the old Reich marks.
June 21st, 1948 From the first day of
the new currency, suddenly, food and goods were now
in abundance. If you had the money, you could buy
anything you wanted. Previously, there was nothing
available to buy. Heinrich (my son) traveled to
Passau and bought us porcelain plates so we could
eat like regular people again. We stayed in this
camp until July 20th. They sent 250 of
us by train via Regensburg/Munich/Augsburg/New Ulm
July 21st, 1948 We were placed in a
dance hall with 75 other people, more camp living.
They wouldn’t take us in the French zone, they said
there was no room. There was no provision in the
Yalta agreement that all the ethnic Germans should
be forced out of the now communist lands and return
to Germany. We spent months here, from July 21st
1948 to November 10th, 1949. Sixteen
November 11th, 1949 They sent us to a
city in Wurttemberg-Hohenzollern to stay at another
camp. We stayed there a week.
November 16th, 1949 We were sent by bus
to a small village called Goppertsweiler. It was in
a valley, 3 kilometers from Neykirch-Kreis-Tettnang.
We were sent to a farmer, the police had to stand
by, the farmer didn’t want to take us in. They
finally gave us three small rooms above a cow
stall. By at least, we were finally in our own
living space, if you could call it that. The
government gave us five iron beds with straw
mattresses and blankets. The Red Cross gave us 80
Deutshmark to buy groceries. They also gave us
certificates for a stove, heating oven, kitchen
supplies, dinnerware, and a big washing tub. The
farmer’s name was Muhlebach. We were in five
different camps since leaving Hungary. No one could
appreciate what it was like to live in a camp unless
you’ve had to do it yourself.
Christmas, 1949 The German government gave a
Christmas party for all of us refugees. We all
received little presents. The major of Neukirch
gave a little speech. He told us there is no future
here for us, he said he would travel to
Friedsrichshafen, to meet with their mayor. He
understood that they are building new homes there.
He thought that we might as a group build our own
homes there. The government would provide the
building materials, we would have to build them
June 12th, 1950 Us and 48 families moved
to Allmansweiler, two kilometers west of
Friedrichshafen. We started to build 24 duplex
homes. We dug the cellars, etc., For every person
who helped, every hour worked was an hour credit
towards the price of our future home. They still
provided us with food and other social benefits.
So, the work progressed and soon one house after
another was completed. There were many tradesmen in
our group, and everyone cooperated and worked very
hard in completing the house. The winter was warm
here on the Bodensee (Lake Constance), so we were
able to work through the winter. There was a
sawmill in the area, they made the wood for the
house frames. Franz Brigaztki, from Hungary, and I
did all the carpentry work. The floors and boards
were made in a factory and delivered to the site.
(The Friedrichshafen area was heavily bombed during
World War II, as there were many munitions factories
in the area, also, it was home to the Zeppelins –
apparently, the bombing destroyed many homes, hence
the ability to re-build)
Spring, 1951 The first 24 houses were finished.
They held a lottery, we drew #14 Gluckstrasse
(Street of Luck). We moved in March 19th,
1951. Kathi and the children also helped a lot in
building, so we amassed 1,900 hours in credits,
exactly the cost of the house. It took us three
years and two months of wandering, living in camps
until we were finally settled in our own home
again! Slowly, we bought household articles. Having
worked together, we knew all of our neighbors, so it
felt right away like home. After completing the
housing development, my daughter, Kati and myself
found jobs in a wire factory. When they completed
school, my son Heinrich and my daughter Christine
also found work. By then, we were settled and very
happy in our new land, Friedsrichshafen am Bodensee,
(Lake Constance) south-west Germany. The landscape
was beautiful, with many fruit orchards. Over two
hundred years ago, our ancestors left Germany to
settle in Hungary, now after WWII, millions were
returned to their original homeland. From here,
many of us immigrated to other countries; America,
Australia, Canada, England and Brazil. My aunt and
uncle Klein, his brother Janos and son, immigrated
to Cleveland, Ohio. There were many families from
Harta, Hungary already in Cleveland. They wrote us
about how cheap the cost of living in the U.S. was
as compared to Germany. We could see that we could
recover our livelihood quicker there, so we began
thinking about immigrating, too. In 1955, we took
the big step and received papers to immigrate to the
U.S.A. It was a big step, but this time, it was
done of our own free will. It was hard going to a
whole new part of the world, a strange land where we
had to learn a new language and customs. Germany
was still divided and ruled by the allies and had
been greatly torn apart during the war. The future
was brighter in the U.S.A., so we got our papers
ready, sold our house, our furnishing, etc., I made
two big wooden chests and packed five suitcases. We
left Friedrichshafen on July 28th, 1955
and took a train to Bremerhafen. (They were
sponsored by the West Side Hungarian Church, on West
98th Street and Denison so that they
could come to this country. Both John and Kathi
Knodel remained church members until their deaths)
July 28th, 1955 Boarded the ship “General
Langfitt” and arrived in New York City nine days
later. We took an evening train and arrived in
Cleveland on August 7th, 1955. My uncle,
Heinrich Kast and Karl Schnautigel met us at the
station. When we arrived here, we were so surprised
at how they looked, like they didn’t have enough to
eat. My wife had already told me in New York that
it would be better if we get on the next boat back
August 7th, 1955 We stayed with my aunt
and uncle Klein at their house on West 48th
Street. It was a full house. We told many stories
of our life as gypsies. It took seven years to
come together with them again! We all found work
right away and started up again from nothing. We
had saved some money and our aunt and uncle loaned
us money to buy our own house (on West 73rd.
St.). For a small down payment, we were able to
also purchase furniture and household necessities.
Gradually, we became accustom to our new land. The
hardest part was the language, it was easier to
learn for the younger ones, for the older ones, it
was harder. Financially, it was easier to move
forward and grow here, so we got used to it.
Groceries, clothes, houses, etc., were all only
one-third here what things would cost in Germany.
Personally, it was harder here, as we had to leave
our loved ones. My parents were still in Hungary.
Kathi’s parents were in Munich. We were spread all
over the world. After ten years, we returned to
visit our European relatives in 1965. Europe had
changed a lot, too, especially Germany. Everything
was rebuilt that had been destroyed during the war.
We visited my in-laws in Gerlinden, (near Munich)
then saw our son Heinrich, his wife Helga, and
grandchildren in Friedrichshafen (Heinrich also
immigrated with the family in 1955, he met and
married his wife, Helga in Cleveland – had one son –
and then returned to Friedrichshafen in 1958 or 1959
and remains there) to and then onto Hungary, Harta,
Kiskoros, Dunavecse and Budapest. Most of the
refugees had built new homes and had jobs. Their
living conditions had greatly improved.
end of John Knodel’s Diary
John & Kathi Knodel lived in Cleveland, then moved to
Fairview Park. They moved to Leigh
Acres, Florida and then returned to Fairview Park.
They liked to live near the bus line, as John didn’t
learn to drive until 1968, when his son Heinrich,
came to visit from Germany. Kathi never learned to
drive – but enjoyed being independent and took the
They enjoyed living in Florida, but returned when
John was yet again imprisoned – by Alzheimer’s
Disease. He died in May, 1989. Kathi lived until
January 1999. They are both buried in West Park
Cemetery in Cleveland. They were the best
grandparents ever and were much loved.
note: Village of Harta / Hartau is in Bács-Kiskun
DVHH.org 16 Aug 2005 by Jody McKim Pharr]