“We did not know how it was there. There were these tall chimneys there and all was happening in unimaginably primitive conditions. I was brought as a young boy, a nipper, into one of these houses which was full of children like me who arrived earlier. They were already starved and I would say that the boys run a bit wild. There was a boy there who had been there for a while and I asked him: ‘Are these some factories?’ – ‘No, these are not factories, these are crematoriums. Whoever dies is sent there to be cremated. They can’t just leave the corpses here.’ And I asked the boy: ‘Where do they get the corpses?’ He replied: ‘You don’t understand what it is about. You must understand.’ He went on without scruples: ‘You must understand. The smoke coming from these chimneys and the weird omnipresent smell, these are the people from your transport being cremated. These are you relatives, the smoke comes from their bodies.’ I would say that it was an obligation for the older prisoners to initiate the new ones into what was going on because without knowing the situation, one could not survive. One had to know what was going on in advance, be ready for it and somehow count on it.”
“Then they locked us up somewhere, saying they would dispatch us for a march to the Reich the next day. But the other day they were not there anymore. So I did not waste a second and set out home on my own. I went to Krakow on foot. I marched fairly quickly because I did everything on my own. Suddenly, I began to cough and realized that this was the reason for my illness; that I was already suffering from lung tuberculosis. I went all the way to the eastern border, getting to the Ukrainian territory by various trains. From there I marched near the Dukla Pass. Nearby is the town of Krosno where the Battle of the Dukla Pass had begun. Then I headed west again, through Hungary. There was white snow and red blood. That is a movie image of me eventually getting home. It took me two months to make it, by trains and on foot. I have received a stamped document from the Russians saying I was not a spy so I managed to go through. In two months I had made it home.“
“One of them was a… I call him a football player because he was terribly good at football. One of the selections took place at a football pitch which was part of the camp, where the SS-men would play football. Imagine, they were there with the Jewish prisoners, with the Sonderkommando – the ones who cremated the corpses. When they had a break, they used to play football together. There was a football goal there. An SS-man came; we thought we were going to shower. Not knowing anything, we went calmly and in order. He came with a plank which he hammered into the ground. A goal. Then we had to form a line and in ten minutes it was all decided. Whoever did not reach the horizontal plank with their head was sent to one side for being too short. I had just about made it standing on my fingertips. Whoever went to the other side, survived. The football player was fairly fat because he had a mother somewhere who was sending him food. Because he was two or three centimeters shorter than me, he was killed. He was one of these boys.”
Prof. MUDr. Tomáš Radil, DrSc. was born on 8 November 1930 into a Jewish family in Bratislava. He grew up in the town of Parkan (at present named Štúrovo) in southern Slovakia. His family knew both Slovak and Hungarian. His grandfather, a butcher, served as head of the Jewish community in Parkan while his father worked as a manager of nobility‘s farm estate. Tomáš attended a grammar school in Esztergom but did not manage to conclude his studies before Germany‘s occupation of Hungary. Following the occupation of Hungary by the Nazis on 19 March 1944, anti-Jewish measures had been adopted which should have led to the physical liquidation of all Jewish inhabitants. In June 1944 the whole family was deported into a concentration camp in Levice and later to Auschwitz where they arrived on 16 June 1944. Following the selection, Tomáš was among a thousand young boys who were then placed into BIIe camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. There he had spent nearly half a year before he was transferred to the main Auschwitz camp where he worked in a brick-layer school (Mauerschule). After the liberation of the camp on 27 January 1945 he set out to a two-month journey home. In Parkan he has met his father, a survivor of Dachau concentration camp. In 1955 Tomáš graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in Prague, specializing in neurophysiology. Since 1960 he has worked as a scientist in the Department of Physiology, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. He also served as a professor and researcher at universities and laboratories in a number of countries. At the same time, he has been engaged in the topic of Holocaust, on which he lectures both in the Czech Republic and abroad. 2009 saw the publishing of his book ‘A Fourteen-year-old alone in Auschwitz‘.