Experience: I survived a Nazi massacre
That night was unquestionably the worst I’ve experienced during my 100 years on this earthRead more: Lifestyle »
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Alex Bartos at home in Sydney, Australia: ‘Out of well over a thousand of us, only a few hundred were left.By 20:37, Thu, Jan 27, 2022 | UPDATED: 20:37, Thu, Jan 27, 2022 Link copied Holocaust survivors feature in paintings commissioned by Charles Sign up to receive our rundown of the day's top stories SUBSCRIBE Invalid email We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you..A former army sergeant revealed she quit the military to take up a career in porn for a "new and exciting experience".
’ Photograph: Matthew Abbott/The Guardian Alex Bartos at home in Sydney, Australia: ‘Out of well over a thousand of us, only a few hundred were left.’ Photograph: Matthew Abbott/The Guardian Fri 28 Jan 2022 10. You can unsubscribe at any time.00 GMT I was born in Budapest in 1921 and was living there when war broke out. I received my army call-up in May 1943; at the time, Hungary was one of the Axis powers and had been fighting the Soviet Union on the eastern front for the past two years. In her speech, she denounced the use of some anti-vax protesters using the yellow star that Jews were forced to wear. I received basic military training but, because I was Jewish, I wasn’t given a regular uniform.” “Also, I have always had a fascination with the adult film industry and knew it would be something to pursue that I enjoy.
Instead, I was conscripted into a labour corps and sent with 3,600 others to the mines in Bor, Serbia, which provided copper for the German army. "Incredulous, I had to watch at the age of 100 years how symbols of our exclusion by the Nazis, such as the so-called 'Judenstern', are shamelessly used on the open street by the new enemies of democracy, to present themselves - whilst living in the middle of a democracy - as victims. The labour camps were harsh environments, but I spoke good German and was able to secure a job as a stoker on a train that carried rocks from the mine, which meant I managed to stay warm. In September 1944, the approach of the Russian army led to the hurried closure of the mine and, to our delight, we learned we were to head back to Hungary, accompanied by the Hungarian guards from the camp. These are reminiscent of the cloth badges the Nazis forced Jews to wear to mark them as outsiders. Each of us was given a loaf of bread and a few tins of food. We set out on foot. Ms Friedlaender, 100, urged people not to"turn a blind eye" to the past and said people need to be"vigilant".62 mm M240 machine gun, she said that she was selected for the squad support role because “I was strong and could keep up with the guys”.
The guards had tents for the night, but we had to sleep in the open, under blankets. It was only after a few days’ walking that it dawned on me we weren’t heading to a train station; we were walking the entire 600km. "We cannot change what happened, but it must never happen again. Those who slowed down were threatened or beaten. The guards eventually took to shooting stragglers. Sign up to our Inside Saturday newsletter for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the magazine’s biggest features, as well as a curated list of our weekly highlights. I think I might have stumbled across a video of you today…very nice”.
As we pressed on, our path often coincided with retreating army units or civilians fleeing the battlefront. By the time we passed Belgrade, 200km into our journey, we began noticing smoke billowing in the sky and machine-gunfire in the distance. On 6 October, we stopped for the night on the outskirts of a village called Crvenka [which Hungarians know as Cservenka], where SS soldiers were evacuating the occupants. The SS unit was largely made up of local Volksdeutsche – ethnic Germans who spoke the language but had probably never visited the mother country. The following day, we saw some soldiers talking to our guards, who then split us into two groups..
Those who weren’t Jewish set off with half our guards; the rest of us were left under the supervision of the SS soldiers. The village was abandoned. We were led into a partially enclosed area in a nearby brickworks, where we sat and waited. During my time at Bor I had bonded with four other men. We had stuck together during the journey and now found ourselves near the back of the enclosure.
Late that afternoon, shouting broke out, then there was a burst of gunfire. In the silence that followed, I saw a small group of our men being led away. A few minutes later, there was a volley of shots. The soldiers returned and another group of men was taken, followed by more shots. As the cycle repeated, over and over, we realised they planned to kill us all.
Like cattle in a slaughterhouse we were forced to watch helpless men led to their deaths, knowing our time would surely come. The shootings continued long after dark, but eventually those of us who remained were ordered to sleep. My feet were sore from weeks of walking, so I took off my boots and lay awake listening to the noises in the distance. I heard what sounded like an approaching battle. Read more At first light, the killing began again.
My friends and I were soon near the front, but when a couple of soldiers ordered us to get up, I found my feet had swollen overnight and I couldn’t get my boots on. I was determined not to be shot barefoot, and struggled with my boots until one of the soldiers became angry and hit me with the butt of his rifle. Then he clubbed me repeatedly, leaving me stunned. While my friends tried to help me, the soldiers chose another group of men and took them outside. As I regained my senses, I noticed the sounds of battle had grown closer still.
We waited, but the soldiers never returned and the next people to enter the enclosure were our guards, who told us to get up and start walking quickly. They had left well over a thousand of us with the soldiers – now there were only a few hundred left. During the next six months, I was moved between three German concentration camps. When I was finally liberated in April 1945, I was the only one of my friends from Bor to have survived the war. Later, as a translator in the RAF military police, I was involved in the arrest of several war crime suspects.
But no one was ever prosecuted for their involvement in the Crvenka massacre, during which between 700 and 1,000 men died. . I feel fortunate to have lived a long, good life – I could so easily have become one of the massacre’s victims. Instead, I am probably its last surviving witness. As told to .