Transcript: Surviving Auschwitz | May 05, 2016

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt, and pin-dotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Surviving Auschwitz."

Steve says MAX EISEN WAS JUST 15 YEARS OLD
WHEN OFFICERS ARRIVED AT HIS
HOME IN THE FORMER
CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND ORDERED HIS
ENTIRE FAMILY TO PACK UP AND
LEAVE.
THEY WERE DEPORTED TO AUSCHWITZ
WHERE ALL BUT MAX WERE
EVENTUALLY EXTERMINATED.
MORE THAN SEVEN DECADES AFTER
HIS LIBERATION HE DETAILS IT ALL
IN HIS BOOK
BY CHANCE ALONE: A
AND SURVIVAL AT AUSCHWITZ.
AND MAX EISEN JOINS US HERE NOW
IN OUR STUDIOS.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a sepia-tone picture of a boy, against a striped background.
Then, Max sits in the studio with Steve. Max is in his eighties, clean-shaven, with short white hair. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt, and checked tie.

Steve continues IT'S A GREAT PLEASURE TO MEET YOU.

Max says THANK YOU.

Steve says AND I MUST SAY, HAVING READ YOUR
BOOK, I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU ARE
ALIVE.
IT IS A TRULY, I MEAN, IT'S A
MIRACLE THAT YOU ARE ALIVE.
BUT WE'LL GET INTO IT.

Max says I'M SO THANKFUL TO BE
ALIVE.

Steve says AS YOU SHOULD BE.
HERE WE GO.
AN EXCERPT FROM
YOUR BOOK MR. EISEN...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "The last Seder." The quote reads "I will always remember our final Seder, it is deeply etched in my memory. I remember my entire family seated around a beautifully set table –my grandfather and grandmother; my father and mother; my uncle Eugene and aunt Irene; my two younger siblings, Eugene and Alfred; and baby Judit in her crib. The candles burned in their candelabra, the beautiful dishes were laid out, and the heads of the family –my grandfather, my father and my uncle- were leaning on cushions to symbolize relaxation and freedom from slavery in Egypt. After the reading and singing of the story, we had a dinner of several courses that lasted about four hours. For us, this was our last supper together."
Quoted from Max Eisen, "By chance alone" (2016).

Steve says WHAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW AT THAT
MOMENT--WHAT HAPPENED AFTER
THAT SUPPER ENDED?

The caption changes to "Deportation."
Then, it changes again to "Max Eisen. Author 'By chance alone."

Max says WELL, I THINK WE RETIRED ABOUT
12 O'CLOCK AND MY GRANDFATHER,
FATHER AND UNCLE AND I, WE WERE
OUTSIDE IN THE YARD--IT WAS A
BEAUTIFUL, BALMY NIGHT.
AND MY GRANDFATHER AND MY FATHER
AND UNCLE WERE TALKING ABOUT THE
SITUATION OF THE WAR AND MY
GRANDFATHER SAID, "IF WE MANAGE
TO SURVIVE ANOTHER FIVE TO SIX
MONTHS, WE'LL BE SAFE."
WE WERE THAT CLOSE AND YET SO
FAR, WE DIDN'T KNOW THAT PLANS
WERE BEING HATCHED IN TOWN, THE
GENDARMES WERE ARRIVING FROM
NEIGHBOURING TOWNS AND THEY WERE
GOING TO COLLECT US THE VERY
NEXT MORNING.

Steve says WELL, YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T KNOW
BUT THERE WAS A MAN WHO CAME TO
YOUR HOME AND WARNED YOU.

Max says IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT,
SOMEBODY WAS KNOCKING ON OUR GATE.
WE HAD A CLOSED YARD--WE HAD A
LUMBER YARD--AND WE HAD A
GUARDIAN--AN ALSATIAN DOG--WHO
SIGNALLED THAT SOMEBODY'S
KNOCKING, AND THE WAY HE WAS
BARKING WE KNEW THIS WAS
A SERIOUS BUSINESS.
AND SO MY FATHER OPENED THE
WINDOW--OR THE WINDOW WAS OPEN,
I DON'T RECALL--AND SO THIS
FORESTER SAID, "MR. EISEN,
OPEN THE GATES I HAVE TO
COME IN."
AND THIS WAS A VERY UNUSUAL
EVENT.
MY FATHER HAD TO GET OUT IN THE
YARD AND OPEN THE BIG GATES.
AND HE CAME IN WITH HIS HORSE
AND BUGGY, AND HE WAS TAKEN INTO
MY GRANDFATHER'S QUARTERS AND HE
SAID, "LOOK I JUST CAME FROM THE
PUB, THE GENDARMES ARE ALL THERE
DRINKING BEER AND THEY'RE GOING
TO TAKE--THEY GONNA GET ALL THE
JEWISH PEOPLE TOMORROW MORNING.
"I WANT YOU TO COME WITH ME NOW,
AND I'M GOING TO TAKE YOU AND
HIDE YOU IN THE FOREST."
SO MY GRANDFATHER SIMPLY SAID,
"NO WAY, THIS IS THE SABBATH AND
IT'S PASSOVER, AND WE'RE JUST
NOT GOING TO GO."
AND 72 YEARS LATER THIS FRIDAY
IT'S GONNA TO BE AGAIN THE
SABBATH AND PASSOVER, AT THE
SAME TIME, SO WE DID NOT KNOW
WHAT WAS GOING ON IN OCCUPIED
POLAND IN 1944.

Steve says LET'S JUST SET THE SCENE HERE.
YOU'RE IN RURAL CZECHOSLOVAKIA,
WHAT YEAR IS IT?

Max says 1944.


Steve says IT'S '44.

Max says WE WERE--THIS IS HUNGARY NOW,
YOU SEE, CZECHOSLOVAKIA WAS
PARTITIONED IN 1939 AND THIS
PART OF SLOVAKIA WAS PART OF
HUNGARY.

Steve says OK.

Max says SO WE WERE NOW UNDER HUNGARIAN
JURISDICTION, AND THESE WERE
HUNGARIAN GENDARMES THAT CAME.
AND BUREAUCRACY AND TEACHERS ALL
CAME FROM HUNGARY IN 1939,
SO...

Steve says I NEED TO ASK YOU A BIT OF
A STRANGE QUESTION HERE.

Max says YEAH.

Steve says GIVEN ALL OF THE HORRORS THAT
WERE ABOUT TO FOLLOW, HAVE YOU
EVER OVER THE YEARS THOUGHT, "IF
ONLY MY GRANDFATHER HAD MADE A
DIFFERENT DECISION WE MIGHT HAVE
BEEN ABLE TO AVOID ALL THAT."

Max says YOU KNOW, I OFTEN THINK ABOUT
IT, BUT YOU HAVE TO
UNDERSTAND--WE HAD NO NEWS,
THOSE DAYS THERE WAS NOT LIKE
YOU HAD A CELLPHONE AND YOU TOOK
AN INSTANT PICTURE.
WE LIVED IN A FASCIST COUNTRY
AND THE NEWSPAPERS WERE
CENSORED.
WE HEARD CERTAIN THINGS, BUT YOU
KNOW, PEOPLE WANT TO BELIEVE
THAT, "WELL, THINGS WILL GET
BETTER."
AND WE DIDN'T KNOW, PERHAPS
SOMEBODY IN BUDAPEST KNEW--THEY
COULD HAVE WARNED US BUT THIS
DIDN'T HAPPEN.

Steve says HMM.

Max says SO WE PAID A VERY BIG PRICE,
HUNGARIAN JEWS, FOR NOT KNOWING
WHAT WAS COMING.
JUST IN THE LAST, YOU KNOW, IN
MAY AND THE NEXT FEW
MONTHS--WITHIN THREE MONTHS
450,000 HUNGARIAN JEWS WERE
GASSED IN AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU FOR
NOT KNOWING.
SO MY GRANDFATHER WAS ALWAYS THE
HEAD OF THE FAMILY, HIS WORD WAS
THE LAST WORD.
THERE WAS NO ARGUING...

Steve says THERE WAS NO ARGUING, EH?

Max says NO, THERE WAS NO ARGUING, WHAT
GRANDFATHER SAID THAT WAS LAW.

Steve says AND SO HIS TWO SONS--HE
DECIDED AND HIS TWO SONS WENT
ALONG WITH IT?

Max says YEAH, THAT'S IT, YEAH.
EVERYBODY FOLLOWED.

Steve says WELL, THE GENDARMES CAME, THEY
ROUNDED UP YOUR FAMILY,
EVENTUALLY YOU WERE STUFFED IN A
BOX CAR AND SENT TO AUSCHWITZ.

Max says WELL, WE WERE TAKEN TO A SCHOOL
THE NEXT MORNING AND 450 JEWS
SPENT THE FIRST NIGHT SEALED OFF
FROM THE TOWN.
CAN YOU IMAGINE, YOU GO FROM
YOUR HOME, WHICH IS 20 MINUTES
AWAY FROM THE SCHOOL, AND YOU
SPEND THE FIRST NIGHT ON THE
FLOOR--250 PEOPLE IN ONE ROOM,
250 IN ANOTHER ROOM.
IT WAS A TERRIBLE NIGHT BECAUSE
WE WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE HAD OUR
SECOND SEDER AND WE ARE HERE IN
A SCHOOL.
I JUST WANT TO--IF I COULD--WHEN
I CAME BACK IT WAS A NEIGHBOUR
THAT WE HAD, SHE WAS A CHRISTIAN
LADY AND SHE WAS A GOOD FRIEND
OF MY MOTHER--SO WHEN I CAME
BACK A YEAR LATER, SHE TOLD ME,
"WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN
IN A TOWN OF 5,000 PEOPLE WHERE
APPROXIMATELY 10 percent OF THE
POPULATION ARE REMOVED FROM
THEIR HOMES AND THEY'RE SEALED
OFF IN A SCHOOL?"
SO SHE TOLD ME EXACTLY WHAT
HAPPENED THAT NIGHT.
EVERY JEWISH HOME WAS RANSACKED
TO THE BARE WALLS.
WE HAD A BEAUTIFUL SYNAGOGUE, 90
JEWISH FAMILIES--WE HAD A
BEAUTIFUL SYNAGOGUE.
THE ARK--THE TORA SCROLLS WERE
TAKEN OUT FROM THE ARK, CUT INTO
RIBBONS AND WORSE.
THE PRAYER BOOKS, AND THE
TALMUDIC STUDY BOOKS, WERE PUT
INTO A PILE AND TORCHED.
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.
PEOPLE WITH WHOM WE HAD LIVED
FOR GENERATIONS--JEWS HAVE LIVED
IN HUNGARY AND THAT PART OF THE
WORLD FOR 1,900 YEARS--WERE WE
NOT THE TRUE CITIZENS?
JEWS WERE THERE, THAT PART OF
THE WORLD, BEFORE THE THE
MAGYARS CAME FROM MONGOLIAN IN
THE YEAR 900.

Steve says SO WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENED?
WHY DID IT HAPPEN?

Max says WELL, I THINK--A COUPLE OF
THINGS THAT HAPPENED.
IN MARCH OF '44, GERMAN TROOPS
ENTERED HUNGARY--EICHMANN
ARRIVED IN HUNGARY.
AND A NEW FASCIST GOVERNMENT
CAME INTO POWER.
AND I THINK THE INSTIGATOR
PROBABLY WAS ADOLPH EICHMANN.
HE WAS THE HEAD OF
TRANSPORTATION OF JEWS, AND I
THINK THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED, YOU
SEE, HE JUST OVERRULED
EVERYTHING.
IT'S NOT THAT THE HUNGARIANS
WERE NOT WILLINGLY COOPERATING
WITH THEM--IT WAS HUNGARIAN
GENDARMES THAT COLLECTED ALL
THESE JEWS.
THEY PUT THEIR PRIORITY ON
COLLECTING JEWS WHEN THEY NEEDED
ALL THIS ROLLING STOCK TO TAKE
AMMUNITION OR SUPPLIES TO THE
EASTERN FRONT.
INSTEAD THEY USED ALL THESE
ROLLING STOCK--I MEAN THESE WERE
HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF
TRANSPORTS THAT ROLLED IN FROM
HUNGARY IN 1944.

Steve says BUT THAT'S THE QUESTION, WITH
ALL OF THE MILITARY NEEDS THAT
THEY HAD FOR THOSE TRAINS, FOR
THAT ROLLING STOCK, AND YET THEY
PUT THAT ASIDE IN ORDER TO
COLLECT YOU UP AND SEND YOU TO
THE GAS CHAMBERS.

Max says YES.

Steve says WHY?

Max says WELL, IT WAS HATRED THAT GOES
BACK A LONG WAY.
YOU KNOW, HUNGARY WAS A
COUNTRY--THEY HAD BLOOD LIBELS
IN HUNGARY, THEY HAD QUOTAS FOR
JEWS, COULDN'T ATTEND
UNIVERSITY.
AND ALTHOUGH IN HUNGARY WE STILL
LIVED IN OUR HOMES, THERE WERE
NO LARGE GHETTOS UNTIL '44.
LIKE IN POLAND, FOR INSTANCE, OR
IN--WE DID NOT LIVE IN GHETTOS.
SOME JEWS IN 1944 THEY WERE PUT
INTO CERTAIN AREAS, YOU COULD
HAVE CALLED IT A GHETTO--BUT I
THINK IT WAS HATRED.
JEWS WERE ALWAYS THE ONES THAT
COULD BE KICKED AROUND FOR SOME
REASON.
AND I THINK IT WAS AN ECONOMIC
GRAB FOR MOST OF THE PEOPLE OF
EUROPE.
LET'S NOT FORGET ABOUT, YOU
KNOW, IT WAS PURELY STEALING
PROPERTY THE JEWS HAD WORKED FOR
FOR GENERATIONS.

Steve says YOU DESCRIBE IN SOME DETAIL IN
THE BOOK, THE TRAIN TRIP...

Max says YUP.

Steve says THAT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY TOOK
OVER SEVERAL DAYS TO GET TO
AUSCHWITZ.
GIVE US SOME OF THE DETAIL OF
WHAT THAT WAS LIKE.
YOU'RE LIKE, WHAT,
15-YEARS-OLD AT THE TIME?

Max says I WAS 15 YEARS OLD.

Steve says 15, OK.
WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?

Max says SO, THEY--LIFE IN THIS BRICKYARD
WAS ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE.
THERE WAS ONLY TWO TAPS OF WATER
COMING IN TO LOOK AFTER 30,000
JEWS IN THIS BRICKYARD IN KASSA.
TWO TAPS OF WATER.
MY MOTHER IS THERE WITH A
NINE-MONTH-OLD BABY--I CAN'T
REMEMBER HOW SHE LOOKED AFTER
THE BABY.
THERE WAS A COMMUNAL LATRINE
THAT STANK TO HIGH HEAVEN FOR
MONTHS.
THERE WAS ONLY ONE COMMUNAL
LATRINE FOR MEN AND WOMEN, YOU
KNOW, LIKE A 2X4 AND THERE WERE
PEOPLE SITTING IN AN OPEN PIT.
AND EVERY DAY AN SS OFFICER
ARRIVED IN THIS BRICKYARD.
WE WERE BRAINWASHED, HE TOLD US
A STORY THAT WE WERE GONNA BE
RE-SETTLED IN THE EAST--FAMILIES
WOULD BE TOGETHER AND YOU WOULD
BE WORKING ON FARMS.

Steve says DID EVERYBODY BELIEVE IT?

Max says EVERYBODY BELIEVED IT.

Steve says BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO.

Max says WE COULDN'T WAIT TO GET TO THIS
WONDERFUL FARM.

Steve says HMM.

Max says YOU SEE, HOW THE NAZIS
CODED--ALL THEIR TERRIBLE DEEDS
WERE CODED IN DECEPTION.
AND JUST TO PROCEED THAT BY TWO
YEARS, IN 1942 WHEN MY MATERNAL
FAMILY WERE DEPORTED FROM
SLOVAKIA, WE RECEIVED A TELEGRAM
THAT THEY WERE TAKEN AWAY--WE
WERE DEVASTATED.
THIS IS MY MOTHER'S MOTHER AND
BROTHERS AND SISTERS, MY UNCLES,
AUNTS AND MANY OF MY COUSINS.
A TELEGRAM ARRIVED THAT THEY
WERE TAKEN AWAY, WE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE.
'42.
A FEW MONTHS LATER WE RECEIVED A
POST CARD, IT HAD A GERMAN EAGLE
ON IT, AND THE STAMP SAID
"GENERAL GOVERNMENT" WHICH
POLAND WAS CALLED AFTER IT WAS
OCCUPIED.
LUBLIN DISTRICT, AND THE MESSAGE
ON THE OTHER SIDE WAS:
"WE THE FRIEDMAN FAMILY
ARE ALL HERE TOGETHER.
"WE ARE WORKING ON FARMS AND WE
ARE AWAITING YOUR ARRIVAL."

Steve says WAS ANY OF THAT TRUE?

Max says IT WAS NOT TRUE, BUT WE DIDN'T
KNOW THAT.
SEVERAL FAMILIES IN MY TOWN
RECEIVED SIMILAR CARDS, THAT
FAMILIES IN SLOVAKIA--YOU SEE,
WE WERE THAT CLOSE.
YOU KNOW, MEN FROM MY TOWN
MARRIED GIRLS FROM--WHICH WAS
ALL CZECHOSLOVAKIA AT ONE TIME.
SO HERE I AM, REMEMBER 1942 THIS
POSTCARD ARRIVES, AND NOW IT'S
1944 AND THIS SS OFFICER IS NOW
TELLING ME THAT WE'RE GOING TO
WORK ON FARMS.
WHAT WAS I THINKING, THAT I WAS
GOING TO MEET UP WITH MY
BEAUTIFUL COUSINS SOMEWHERE NEAR
LUBLIN ON THIS FARM.

Steve says BUT WHAT WAS THE TRAIN TRIP LIKE
ACTUALLY?

Max says THE TRAIN TRIP WAS--100 OF US
APPROXIMATELY WERE STUFFED INTO
THIS CATTLE CAR.
INITIALLY THERE WAS A PAIL OF
WATER AND A PAIL FOR A TOILET
PUT IN THERE, AND THEN THE DOORS
WERE LOOKED AND BOLTED DOWN.
AND THEN I KNEW INSTANTLY THAT
SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT HERE.
AND THE TRAIN TOOK OFF.
OF COURSE THE WATER WAS
GONE--WAS NEAR THE WATER WAS
GONE IMMEDIATELY.
AND HEAT WAS BUILDING UP.
THIS WAS IN MAY, IT WAS VERY
HOT.
MY MOTHER WAS STUCK SOMEWHERE IN
A CORNER.
I COULDN'T SEE HER ALL THROUGH
THE THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS.
MY TWO LITTLE BROTHERS WERE
STUCK BETWEEN TALLER PEOPLE.
WE LOST CONTROL OF EACH OTHER
AND I KNEW NOBODY CAN TAKE CARE
OF ME.
MY FATHER WAS HELPLESS.
MY GRANDFATHER WAS HELPLESS.
AND THERE WE WERE STANDING
TOGETHER LIKE SARDINES IN A
VERTICAL POSITION.

Steve says HOW MANY DAYS?

Max says THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS--TWO
NIGHTS, OR--THREE NIGHTS, OR
NO--THREE DAYS AND TWO NIGHTS.
SO THE TRAIN STARTS TO GO AND
THE HEAT IS BUILDING UP.
TWO OLD PEOPLE DIED.
BABIES ARE CRYING AND YOU KNOW
THE BABIES' CRYING WAS GETTING
WEAKER BY THE DAY.
THE TRAIN USED TO STOP TO--THE
LOCOMOTIVE NEEDS WATER AND COAL.
AND WE WERE YELLING FOR WATER
AND THERE WAS NO WATER.
SOMEBODY WAS BOOSTED UP TO THIS
LITTLE OPENING THAT WAS ON THE
SIDE OF THE CATTLE CAR AND THE
METAL BARS, AND WE CAME TO A
STOP AND HE READ THE NAME AND
SOMEBODY SAID THAT THIS IS
POLAND.
AND THAT WAS A SHOCK THAT WE
WERE NO LONGER IN HUNGARY BUT WE
ARE NOW IN POLAND.
AND AS THE TRAIN GOES ON, AND
NIGHT COMES, AND YOU FALL
ASLEEP--I MEAN, YOU'RE DEAD
TIRED.
YOU'RE STANDING IN ONE SPOT, AND
YOU ROLL WITH A GROUP, I
REMEMBER THE CLICKING OF THE
TRAIN, THE CATTLE CAR'S WHEELS
ON THE JOINTS OF THE TRACKS YOU
SEE: "CLICK, CLICK, CLICK."
AND THEN THE LOCOMOTIVE
WHISTLES, AND YOU WAKE UP WITH A
START AND YOU THINK YOU HAD A
NIGHTMARE, AND YOU REALIZE
YOU'RE ACTUALLY IN A NIGHTMARE.
SO THE THIRD NIGHT THE TRAIN
CAME TO A STOP.
IT WAS BEING SHUNTED BACK AND
FORTH AND THESE STEEL BUMPERS
WERE HITTING EACH OTHER, YOU
KNOW--A YANK.
SO I KNOW NOW WE'RE BEING SHOVED
INTO BIRKENAU THROUGH THIS BIG
GUARD HOUSE, ON THE RAILINGS.
SO OUR DOOR OPENED UP AND THERE
WAS A MAN IN A STRIPED JACKET
AND CAP AND HE WAS YELLING AT
US, "ROASHNAU."

Steve says GET OUT QUICKLY.

Max says YUP.
AND YOU KNOW YOU CAN ACTUALLY
WRITE A BOOK OF WHAT IT WAS LIKE
TO SPEND THREE DAYS TOGETHER
WITH 100 PEOPLE.
SO IT WAS ABSOLUTELY A
NIGHTMARE, YOU WERE
DYSFUNCTIONAL, YOU WERE DEAD
BEAT WHEN YOU WERE YANKED
OUT ON THIS PLATFORM.

Steve says DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA
WHERE YOU WERE WHEN THE DOORS
OPENED?

Max says WE HAD NO IDEA.
EVERYTHING WAS--THEY OPENED UP
THE DOOR OF THE CATTLE CAR AND
LIGHT FLOODED IN.
AND I WRITE IN MY BOOK IT WAS
LIKE LIGHT WAS SHONE ON THIS
LARVAE, OR A HIVE OF ANTS, YOU
KNOW, WHO ARE WORKING IN THE
DARK AND EVERYBODY STARTS TO
MOVE, TRIES TO GET THEIR BRAINS
INTO GEAR BECAUSE YOU'RE SO
DYSFUNCTIONAL.
AND THEY WANT TO FIND YOU
BUNDLED IN THIS URINE AND FECES
ON THE FLOOR.
AND THEY KEEP TELLING AT YOU,
"DON'T WORRY, YOU'LL GET
DELIVERED TOMORROW."
SO YOU SEE THIS DECEPTION WAS
ON, ON THE PLATFORM WE WERE OUT,
AND THE SELECTION BEGAN AND THIS
SS DOCTOR WITH HIS WHITE
GLOVES...

Steve says WAS THAT MENGELE?

Max says IT COULD HAVE BEEN MENGELE, I
DON'T KNOW.
BUT CAN YOU IMAGINE THE POWER OF
ONE MAN, A DOCTOR WHO SWORE THE
HIPPOCRATIC OATH THAT HE WOULD
DO NO HARM TO PEOPLE, WITH A
FLICK, THIS FLICK MEANT THAT MY
MOTHER HOLDING A BABY IN HER
ARM, MY GRANDPARENTS--MY
GRANDFATHER WAS 67 YEARS OLD--MY
GRANDMOTHER, MY TWO YOUNGER
BROTHERS, HE HAD THE POWER TO
SEND THEM INTO THE GAS CHAMBER
RIGHT FROM THIS PLATFORM.
YOU SEE THESE WERE CALLED
"LIFE'S NOT WORTH LIVING."
MY FATHER, UNCLE AND I, WE WERE
CHOSEN FOR SLAVE LABOUR.
OUR PROBLEM WAS FROM HUNGARIAN
JEWS BECAUSE 1944 THEY DID NOT
NEED MUCH SLAVE LABOUR BECAUSE
THEY WERE GETTING DOWN THEIR OWN
FACTORIES IN AUSCHWITZ, SO THEY
WERE VERY ASTUTE BUSINESS
PEOPLE.
YOU DON'T NEED PEOPLE, YOU'RE
NOT GOING TO FEED THEM, SO PUT
THEM IN THE GAS.

Steve says DID YOU HAVE ANY SENSE, MR.
EISEN, THAT WHEN THE FLICK OF
THE WRIST WENT THAT WAY FOR YOUR
MOTHER AND SISTER AND OTHER
SIBLINGS, THAT YOU'D NEVER SEE
THEM AGAIN?

Max says WE HAD NO IDEA.
WE BELIEVED EVERYTHING THEY WERE
TELLING US.
I MEAN, WE COULDN'T THINK.
YOU WERE IN A STRANGE PLACE.
YOU SAW SS MEN WITH THEIR--THIS
WERE THE TOTENKOPF DIVISION,
THAT HAD UNITS WITH THE SKULL
AND CROSSBONES, AND THAT WAS
VERY FRIGHTENING, AND THERE WERE
MANY INMATES IN STRIPED OUTFITS.
THERE WAS A TERRIBLE SMELL IN
THE AIR LIKE BURNING FLESH.
BEHIND ME I COULD SEE A PLUME OF
FLAMES, ANGRY RED FLAMES COMING
OUT FROM SOMEWHERE.
I THOUGHT WE WERE IN A
FACTORY--NEAR A FACTORY
SOMEWHERE.
I DIDN'T KNOW WHERE I WAS UNTIL
THE NEXT MORNING.
SO THESE SS UNITS, THOSE THAT
WERE CHOSEN FOR SLAVE LABOUR,
THEY TOOK US, THEY WERE IN
CHARGE OF US, AND WE WERE
RUNNING THROUGH A BIRCH FOREST.
AND IN BETWEEN THE FOREST THERE
WAS A FIRE GOING IN A DISTANCE.
AND I COULD SEE--I THOUGHT THAT
THERE WERE PEOPLE JUMPING INTO
THE FIRE.
I MEAN, I WAS IN SHOCK--HERE ARE
THESE SS SOLDIERS WITH THIS
TERRIBLE INSIGNIA.
I'VE SEEN HUNGARIAN SOLDIERS AND
CZECH ARMY, WHICH WERE A VERY
WELL-EQUIPPED ARMY.
AND THESE WERE A DIFFERENT GROUP
OF PEOPLE, THEIR EYES AND THEIR
FACES, I KNEW THAT THEY WERE A
THREAT.
AND MY FATHER JUST GAVE ME A
SHOT, HE SAYS, "KEEP QUIET."
THESE WERE HUNGARIAN JEWS,
ACTUALLY WERE GASSED BUT THEY
WERE THROWN INTO PITS BECAUSE
THE CREMATORIUM COULDN'T KEEP UP
WITH THE GAS CHAMBERS.
AND THEN WE WERE TAKEN INTO A
SAUNA.
OUR CLOTHES WERE TAKEN AWAY FROM
US, WE WERE PROCESSED.
OUR HAIR WAS CUT, WE WENT TO A
SHOWER AND INTO A BARRACK, AND
PUT INTO TRIPLE-TIERED BUNKS.

Steve says YOU, YOUR FATHER, YOUR UNCLE.

Max says WE WERE NAKED, WE HAD NOTHING
EXCEPT OUR BOOTS, AND WE LAID
DOWN ON THE WOODEN PLANKS AND,
YOU KNOW, IT FELT REALLY
WONDERFUL TO BE ABLE TO LAY DOWN
AFTER STANDING FOR THREE DAYS
AND NIGHTS IN ONE SPOT.

Steve says THIS IS MORE THAN 70 YEARS AGO
AND YET YOU STILL HAVE A
REMARKABLE RECOLLECTION OF DETAIL.
DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS OFTEN
OVER THE YEARS?

Max says WELL, I THINK ABOUT IT STEVE,
YOU KNOW, I'VE BEEN SPEAKING FOR
25 YEARS IN SCHOOLS SINCE 1991.
SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES, POLICE,
CANADIAN FORCES COLLEGE AND YOU
KNOW JUST GROUPS, AND WHEN
YOU'RE 87 YEARS OLD YOUR
LONG-TERM MEMORY IS SO VIVID.
SOMETIMES I CAN'T REMEMBER WHERE
I PUT MY KEYS DOWN THE DAY
BEFORE BUT THIS LONG-TERM MEMORY
AND--I HAD TO START AND WRITE MY
STORY WITH PENCIL AND PAPER.
AND I HAD TO SIT DOWN AND I WAS
ABLE TO SEE THIS ENTIRE PICTURE
RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING.

Steve says I HAVE INTERVIEWED HOLOCAUST
SURVIVORS WHO WERE AROUND YOUR
AGE WHEN IT HAPPENED TO THEM.
AND SOME SAY THEY CAN'T REMEMBER
WHAT THEIR PARENTS LOOK LIKE
ANYMORE, THEY CAN'T REMEMBER
WHAT THEIR SIBLINGS LOOK LIKE.
DO YOU HAVE THOSE PROBLEMS AS WELL?

Max says NO, I REMEMBER THEIR FACES VERY VIVIDLY.
I CAN SEE THEM IN MY MIND'S EYE,
I CAN SEE MY MATERNAL
GRANDMOTHER, MY TWO UNCLES WHO
WERE TENDING THE FARM--HERMAN
AND PAVEL--THEY WERE TWO BIG
GUYS, THEY WERE RIDING THEIR
BEAUTIFUL HORSES, AND I REMEMBER
MY COUSINS WHO WERE DEPORTED TO
MAJDANEK FROM SLOVAKIA WHILE WE
WERE IN HUNGARY.
NO, I CAN REMEMBER THEM PRETTY WELL.

Steve says YOU WERE NINE MONTHS IN AUSCHWITZ?

Max says I WAS APPROXIMATELY NINE
MONTHS.

Steve says NINE MONTHS IN...

Max says FROM MAY THE 8TH, I BELIEVE, TO
JANUARY THE 12TH.

Steve says WHAT KINDS OF THINGS DID YOU DO
TO JUST LIVE ANOTHER DAY?
WELL--YOU KNOW, YOU NEEDED TO
HAVE A CERTAIN SKILLS AND A
PREPARATION, AND YOU NEEDED
TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF RESILIENCE
TO SURVIVE AUSCHWITZ.
AND I HAD ALL KINDS OF SKILLS.
SKILLS THAT MY GRANDFATHER
TAUGHT ME--MY MOTHER--SKILLS I
LEARNED FROM MY FATHER, MY
UNCLES.
I DID MOST OF MY--THE PERSON
THAT I WAS REALLY DEPENDING ON
WAS MY GRANDFATHER.
IMAGINE ON A MARKET DAY WE HAD A
HUGE YARD, FARMERS COME TO THE
MARKET, THEY BRING THEIR GOODS
AND THEY PARKED IN OUR YARD.
SO AFTER THEY SOLD THEIR GOODS
ON THE MARKET THEY CAME BACK AND
THEY BOUGHT LUMBER FROM OUR YARD.
IN THE MEANTIME THERE WERE
ANYWHERE FROM 10 TO 15 HORSE AND
WAGONS IN OUR YARD.
SO AFTER THEY BOUGHT THE LUMBER
MY GRANDFATHER USED TO HAVE A
SORT OF INDELIBLE PENCIL, PUT IT
IN HIS LEDGER BINDER--SO MANY
2X4S.
AT THE END OF THE SEASON THEY
WOULD BARTER--THE FARMERS WOULD
BRING US GRAIN OR LIVESTOCK.
SO WHEN THE CARTS WERE GONE, MY
GRANDFATHER AND I WE HAD TO
CLEAN UP THE YARD WITH LONG
BROOMS TO COLLECT ALL THE
MANURE, AND YOU KNOW THIS WAS A
GOOD THING BECAUSE WE USED THIS
MANURE IN OUR VEGETABLE GARDENS.
SO, YOU KNOW, THESE WERE LIFE
SKILLS THAT I LEARNED FROM THEM,
SO I NEEDED ALL THESE SKILLS
WHEN I ARRIVED IN THE CAMP.
AND...

Steve says BUT I'M REFERRING TO THINGS
LIKE, IF YOU WERE CAUGHT
SNEAKING FOOD YOU COULD BE KILLED.
YOU SNUCK FOOD ANYWAY AND
SOMEHOW MANAGED TO GET AWAY WITH IT.
IF YOU LOOKED AT AN SS OFFICER
THE WRONG WAY THEY WOULD TAKE
THEIR GUNS AND, YOU KNOW, KILL
YOU RIGHT THERE WHERE YOU STOOD,
AND SOMEHOW YOU MANAGED NOT TO
HAVE THAT HAPPEN TO YOU.
DO YOU KNOW WHY SOMEHOW YOU
MANAGED EVERY STEP OF THE WAY TO
LIVE JUST ANOTHER DAY?

The caption changes to "TVO.org/current-affairs"

Max says YOU SEE, MY FATHER AND UNCLE WHO
WERE WORKING IN LABOUR
BATTALIONS FOR YEARS UNDER THE
HUNGARIANS, THEY SORT OF HELPED
ME TO GET ACCLIMATIZED TO LIFE
IN THIS TERRIBLE PLACE.
I MEAN, WHEN WE ARRIVED HERE YOU
LOOKED AT OTHER PRISONERS WHO
WERE THERE MAYBE SIX, SEVEN
MONTHS.
I MEAN, THESE WERE HARDCORE
PEOPLE WHO WERE BITTER, SKINNY,
I MEAN, PEOPLE WOULD KILL FOR A
CRUMB OF BREAD, I'VE SEEN THE
BEST AND THE WORST.
THE ONLY TIME WHEN I WAS ABLE TO
GET MY WAY UP A BIT WAS WHEN I
STARTED TO WORK IN THE OPERATING
ROOM.
I WAS ABLE TO KEEP MYSELF CLEAN
AND I WAS ABLE TO COOK A MEAL.
YOU'LL READ IT IN THE BOOK.

Steve says YOU KNOW WHAT, BEFORE YOU GO THERE...

Max says YEAH.

Steve says BECAUSE I WANT TO EXPLAIN HOW
YOU ENDED UP THERE.

Max says OK.

Steve says YOU HAD A LOT OF TERRIBLE JOBS
BEFORE THAT.

Max says YES.

Steve says BUT THEN IRONICALLY ONE DAY, AN
SS GUARD TOOK THE BUTT OF HIS
GUN AND CRACKED YOU RIGHT OVER
THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD AND YOU
THOUGHT, "OK...

Max says THAT WAS IT.

The caption changes to "A turning point."

Steve says THAT'S IT, THEY'RE GONNA TAKE
ME OFF TO THE CREMATORIUM, I
CAN'T WORK ANYMORE, THEY'RE
GONNA TAKE ME OFF TO THE
CREMATORIUM AND I'M GONNA BE
KILLED.

Max says YUP, YUP.

Steve says AND HERE'S WHAT YOU SAY
IN THE BOOK...

Another quote from the book appears on screen, under the title "No one could save me." The quote reads "I thought of my family and how they must have felt when facing their own demise. When my mother entered the gas chamber she had my siblings in her care. How she must have fought until the last breath in that horrible chamber. What would it be like for me? Slow or fast? Would my soul leave my body? Would I meet my family again? Would they all be waiting for me? How would I know them? What shape or form would they be in? I felt utterly alone, with no one to take care of or comfort me. No one could save me."

Steve says NOW, AT THIS MOMENT OF
COMPLETE DESPERATION IT
ACTUALLY TURNED OUT TO BE GREAT
FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU ENDED
UP BEING TAKEN BY THIS WONDERFUL
DOCTOR AND YOUR LIFE WAS SAVED.
HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?

Max says WELL, THIS WAS A WAY OUT, AND
MISFORTUNE BECAME MY BEST
FORTUNE, YOU SEE.
LIKE SOMEBODY ELSE SAID,
PRIMO LEVI I BELIEVE,
"THAT IF A DOOR DIDN'T OPEN FOR
YOU YOU COULDN'T WALK OUT
OF THIS PLACE ALIVE."
SO I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH THAT I
WAS TAKEN BACK TO CAMP AND THE
UNDER-COUPLE WAS A POLISH
POLITICAL PRISONER.
I WAS THROWN IN A TWO-WHEELER
CART WHERE ALL THE SHOVELS AND
PICK-AXES WERE, AND WE MARCHED
SIX KILOMETRES BACK TO CAMP.
AND THIS UNDER-COUPLE, WHOSE
NAME WAS STASHICK, THEY MADE
SURE THAT TWO INMATES TOOK ME
OFF BEFORE WE ENTERED THE GATES,
AND THEY HAD TO CARRY ME FROM
THE GATE TO BARRACK 21.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO AUSCHWITZ?

Steve says MM HMM, A FEW TIMES.

Max says REMEMBER BARRACK 21,
[UNCLEAR]
IN THE SURGERY DEPARTMENT.

Steve says HMM.

Max says IT'S NEAR THE FAR END ON YOUR
RIGHT SIDE WHERE THE LAUNDRY IS.
AND HE MADE SURE THAT THEY
BROUGHT ME RIGHT INSIDE THE
HALLWAY NEAR THE OPERATING
SURGERY.
HAD HE NOT DONE THAT I WOULD
HAVE BLED TO DEATH RIGHT INSIDE
THE GATE.
SO THAT WAS A LUCKY, YOU KNOW,
LUCKY THING THAT HE DID THIS.
AND THE DOCTOR, OF COURSE, HE
TOOK ME OFF THE STRETCHER, YOU
KNOW IF YOU COULDN'T WALK AWAY
FROM THE HOSPITAL YOU WERE TAKEN
AWAY TO THE GAS CHAMBER.
AND HE TOOK ME OFF, AND HE
BROUGHT ME INTO THE OPERATING
ROOM, GAVE ME A LAB COAT AND I
BECAME THE CLEANER AND THE
ORDERLY.
AND THIS WAS MY LUCK, YOU KNOW,
THAT'S--HAD HE NOT DONE THIS I
WOULDN'T BE HERE TO TELL THIS
STORY.

Steve says WELL, YOU SAY IT WAS YOUR LUCK,
AND I WANT TO GET INTO SOME
DISCUSSION HERE ABOUT WHETHER IT
WAS LUCK, WHETHER IT WAS DIVINE
INTERVENTION, DID YOU THINK AT
THAT MOMENT, "GOD IS SAVING ME?"
OR WHAT DID YOU THINK?

Max says I DIDN'T THINK OF GOD.
I CAME FROM A TRADITIONAL
ORTHODOX FAMILY, AND THAT WAS
THE LEAST OF MY THINGS THAT I
WAS THINKING OF.
I KEPT WONDERING, "HOW CAN THESE
THINGS HAPPEN?"
AND I THINK WHEN I WAS BROUGHT
INTO THE OPERATING ROOM THERE
WAS A YOUNG POLISH STUDENT
THERE, A MEDICAL STUDENT.
AND HE WAS LEAVING--SOME POLISH
PEOPLE WHO WERE SENT TO
AUSCHWITZ, SOME MISDEED,
POLITICAL SOMETHING--HE WAS
SENTENCED TO ONE YEAR IN
AUSCHWITZ AND THEN HE WAS
ALLOWED TO GO HOME.
SO THEN HE SPENT HIS ONE YEAR
AND HE WAS GOING TO LEAVE IN A
FEW DAYS.
SO MAYBE THAT WAS A REASON
THAT--AND THERE WERE TWO JEWISH
DOCTORS IN THE WARD UPSTAIRS.
ONE WAS A POLISH JEWISH DOCTOR,
DR. JACOB GORDON, AND A FRENCH
JEWISH DOCTOR, SAMUEL STEINBERG
FROM PARIS.
AND YOU KNOW THESE DOCTORS WERE
COMMUNICATING WITH EACH OTHER.
SO MAYBE THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT
EVERYBODY KNEW THAT THIS STUDENT
IS LEAVING AND MAYBE THIS WAS
SOMETHING--I DON'T KNOW WHETHER
THERE WAS A DISCUSSION LIKE THAT
OR NOT.

Steve says HMM.

Max says BUT I THINK MAYBE THERE WAS, SO
I FEEL THAT WAY.
AND SO WHEN I STARTED TO WORK
THERE, THIS STUDENT LEFT THREE
DAYS LATER.
AND I JUST FITTED IN, AND WITH
ALL MY SKILLS THAT I LEARNED AS
A APPRENTICE, AND A--YOU KNOW, I
WAS THE BEST CLEANER THERE WAS.
I MEAN, THAT OPERATING ROOM, THE
PREP ROOM, AND ANOTHER ROOM,
IT HAD TO SHINE EVERY MORNING
BEFORE WE WERE GETTING READY FOR
OPERATIONS.
AND WE USED TO OPERATING STARTED
ABOUT 12:30 OR SO, ANYWHERE SIX,
SEVEN, EIGHT OPERATIONS
DEPENDING ON WHAT WE HAD IN OUR LINE UP.

Steve says WHO WAS THE
DOCTOR--POLISH DOCTOR?

Max says THE CHIEF DOCTOR WAS DR. TEDDY
SCHSEZCO, HE WAS A SURGEON.
HE WORKED AT THE RADOM HOSPITAL.
HE WAS ARRESTED BY THE GESTAPO
BECAUSE HE WAS IN THE POLISH
UNDERGROUND.
AND HE WOUND UP IN THE HOSPITAL,
IN BARRACK 21 AS A PATIENT.
HE WAS BEATEN UP IN SUCH A BAD
STATE, AND THEN THEY FOUND OUT
THAT HE WAS DR. SCHSEZCO HE WAS
MADE THE CHIEF SURGEON.

Three black and white pictures pop up showing a shaven-headed man. The pictures show him in profile, front, and angled position. He's in his early forties, wearing a striped uniform.

Steve says THAT'S HIM.

Max says YEAH.
131527 THAT WAS HIS TATTOO
NUMBER.

Steve says AND YOU REMEMBER HIS
NUMBER.

Max says I REMEMBER THIS, YOU KNOW,
HE'S WASHING UP AND HIS SLEEVES
WERE ROLLED UP, AND HE'S A VERY
STRONG MAN, HE WAS ABOUT
42 YEARS OLD.

Steve says NOT JEWISH.

Max says NO, NO, HE WAS A POLISH
POLITICAL PRISONER.
AND BOTH SURGEONS WERE--THE
OTHER ONE WAS DR. SPIGNEW
SEBASTIANSKY.
SO THE DIFFERENCE WAS, DR.
SCHSEZCO--EVERY POLISH POLITICAL
PRISONER WAS ALLOWED TO RECEIVE
A SMALL PARCEL ONCE A MONTH.
CAN YOU IMAGINE RECEIVING A
PARCEL FROM HOME THAT HAD A
LITTLE BIT OF SALAMI IN IT, A
PIECE OF BREAD, AND MAYBE A
LITTLE PIECE OF SOME KIND OF A
CAKE AND SOME SWEETS.
I MEAN, I REMEMBER IT WHEN THEY
OPENED UP THESE PACKAGES YOU SEE
A SMALL BREAD WAS CUT INTO
PIECES BY THE GUARDS, THEY
WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE
WAS NOTHING HIDDEN INSIDE.

Steve says HMM.

Max says AND HE WOULD ALWAYS SHARE
SOMETHING WITH ME.
AND THEY WERE ALLOWED TO WRITE A
LETTER ONCE A MONTH--RECEIVE A
LETTER AND WRITE A LETTER HOME.
THESE WERE THE POLITICAL PRISONERS.
YOU SEE, THEY WERE ALL KINDS OF
PEOPLE IN THIS CAMP.
THERE WERE KILLERS, A-SOCIALS,
THEY WERE GAY PEOPLE.
SO WE JEWS WHO HAD THE STAR OF
DAVID AND A NUMBER, WE WERE ON
THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST,
EVERYBODY ELSE WAS ON TOP OF US
AND THE POLITICAL PRISONERS WERE
ON TOP OF THEM ALL.
YOU SEE AUSCHWITZ ONE WAS RUN BY
THE POLISH INTELLIGENTSIA, THEY
WERE THE FIRST INMATES THERE.
SO THEY HAD THE SENIORITY, THEY
RAN THE ENTIRE CAMP.
EVERY BLOCK, EVERY BARRACK, HAD
A BARRACK ELDER AND A ROOM
ELDER, AND THESE WERE ALL THESE
POLISH POLITICAL PRISONERS.
THEY WORKED TOGETHER VERY WELL,
YOU KNOW, I MEAN, THIS WAS FOR
THEIR OWN SAFETY AND THERE WERE
A LOT OF THINGS GOING ON, YOU
KNOW, THEY HAD A SHORTWAVE
RADIO FROM WHAT I LEARNED AFTER,
I DIDN'T KNOW THESE THINGS WHEN
I WAS THERE.
SO THEY WERE A SUPPORT GROUP,
THEY SUPPORTED EACH OTHER.
AND THE REST, YOU KNOW, YOU JUST
FELL BY THE WAYSIDE.
YOU HAD TO BE VERY RESOURCEFUL,
AND ORGANIZED.
EVERY MINUTE YOU HAD TO HAVE
YOUR MIND, HOW CAN YOU HAVE
ANOTHER BLADE OF GRASS OR
SOMETHING BECAUSE HUNGER WAS
UNBELIEVABLE.

Steve says WHEN YOU'RE LIVING IN
AUSCHWITZ-...

Max says MM HMM.

Steve says DO YOU HOPE THAT SOMEDAY SOME
SOLDIER IS GOING TO COME AND
RESCUE YOU FROM ALL OF THIS?

Max says WELL, THE ONLY HOPE I HAD--I
REMEMBER IT WAS PROBABLY IN
JULY, OR MAYBE MIDDLE OF JUNE,
THERE WAS AN ALARM THAT AMERICAN
BOMBERS WERE COMING.
WE FIGURED OUT, I DIDN'T KNOW,
THERE WAS A SIREN SOUNDED AND
THEY WERE RUSHING ALL THE UNITS
BACK TO CAMP.
SO--AND THEN YOU COULD HEAR THE
HUM OF HUNDREDS OF ENGINES AND
SUDDENLY ON A CLEAR-BLUE-SKY DAY
YOU SEE HUNDREDS OF THESE HUGE
BOMBERS IN SQUADRONS FLYING OVER.

Steve says YOU WERE HAPPY ABOUT THAT?

Max says IT WAS THE MOST MAJESTIC SITE,
AND I SAID, "KEEP COMING."
AND THEN THE BOMBS START
FALLING.
NEVER ON THE CAMP, THEY WERE
PINPOINTING ALL THE HUGE
FACTORIES, ESPECIALLY
I.G. FARBEN IN MONOWITZ.
AND THE FLAK, THE ANTI-AIRCRAFT
GUNS, YOU KNOW THESE 88 MM GUNS,
THEY WERE ALL STARTING TO SHOOT,
THEY WERE RIGHT AT THE PERIMETER
FENCE OF AUSCHWITZ ONE.
AND YOU KNOW THE RACKET AND THE
SHRAPNEL THAT WAS FLYING, AND WE
WERE STANDING AND WE SAW--WE
KEPT SAYING, "KEEP DROPPING THE BOMBS."
WE DIDN'T CARE, I WOULD RATHER
BE KILLED BY AN AMERICAN BOMB
THAN DIE IN A HORRIBLE WAY.
AND THIS WENT ON EVERY DAY
EXACTLY AT 12 O'CLOCK, AT NOON,
AND AT NIGHT THE BRITISH WERE
BOMBING.

Steve says GIVEN ALL THE DEATH THAT YOU SAW
THOUGH, DID YOU ASSUME THAT AT
SOME POINT YOU WOULD BE KILLED
AS WELL?

Max says LOOK, I KNEW THAT THE FINALE IS
GOING TO BE THAT THEY'LL KILL US ALL.
I NEVER HAD ANY IDEA--I WAS
STRIVING TO LIVE FROM
SECOND-TO-SECOND, FROM
DAY-TO-DAY.
I MEAN, SECOND-TO-SECOND WAS
REAL HEAVY TASK, YOU KNOW,
BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T KNOW.
YOU COULD NOT HAVE LONG-RANGE
PLANS, ALL YOU NEEDED TO HAVE IS
A WILL TO GO ON, YOU KNOW, AND
YOU'D PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF
THE OTHER.
BUT I KNEW THAT THE FINALE WAS
GOING TO BE A BAD SCENARIO.
BECAUSE I KNEW THAT THE REICH
WAS COLLAPSING AND THEY'LL BE
REVENGEFUL AND KILL US.
AND THIS IS WHAT THEY DID, I WAS
ON THE DEATH MARCH, SOME 30,000
OF US WHERE MARCHED OUT ON
JANUARY THE 12TH, '45 IN THIS
BITTER COLD.

Steve says WELL, WE SHOULD EXPLAIN THAT
BECAUSE WHEN AUSCHWITZ WAS
LIBERATED YOU WEREN'T THERE
ANYMORE, RIGHT?

Max says NO, IT WAS IN JANUARY THE 27TH.

Steve says RIGHT, SO YOU'D LEFT ALREADY.

The caption changes to "Death march."

Max says I LEFT ON THE 12TH, YOU SEE.

Steve says THEY MARCHED YOU ON A DEATH
MARCH, I MEAN, IT'S AN
ASTONISHING--HOW FAR, HOW FAR
DID YOU GO?

Max says WE WALKED ABOUT MAYBE 150 KMS,
THIS TOOK US ABOUT THREE DAYS.
CAN YOU IMAGINE IN SNOW UP TO
YOUR ANKLES, THOUSANDS OF
PEOPLE, MANY IN THE WOODEN CLOGS.

Steve says HMM.

Max says FIVE OF US HOOKED OUR ARMS
TOGETHER, SO THAT YOU ARE A
UNIT, YOU KNOW, AND YOU HAD TO
CARRY SOME PEOPLE, AND YOU FEEL
THAT THIS GUY'S KIND OF HEAVY
AND YOU LOOK AND HE'S A FROZEN
PIECE OF DEAD MEAT, YOU KNOW,
AND YOU JUST DROPPED HIM.
AND PEOPLE WHO FELL OUT OF THE
COLUMN, THEY DISPATCHED THEM
WITH A BULLET IN THEIR HEAD.
AND THE HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS--YOU
KNOW, WE DIDN'T GO IN THE MAIN
HIGHWAYS, THEY TOOK US ON THE
SIDE ROADS AND FORESTS AND THEY
WERE LITTERED WITH BODIES.

Steve says DID YOU GET FED?

Max says NO, WE WERE NOT FED FOR 13 DAYS
WHEN WE LEFT AUSCHWITZ THEY GAVE
US A PIECE OF BREAD AS WE WENT
THROUGH THE GATES.
AND WE HAD NOWHERE TO KEEP IT SO
WE ATE IT RIGHT AWAY.
SO WHEN A BODY WAS DEAD, AND
BEFORE WE DROPPED THEM, WE USED
TO TEAR OFF A STRIP OF THEIR
UNIFORM, THE STRIPED OUTFIT, YOU
KNOW.
EVERY PIECE OF RAG WAS A BIG
TREASURE.
YOU HAD TO COVER YOUR EARS, YOU
WERE BLACK FROM FROSTBITE, YOU
HAD TO STRIP SOME MATERIAL TO
PUT IT AROUND YOUR BOOTS.
WE WERE SOAKING WET BECAUSE FROM
THE EXERTION EVEN THOUGH IT WAS
FREEZING BUT YOUR BODY WAS BEING
DEHYDRATED.
AND GRABBING HANDFULS OF SNOW,
THAT WAS NOT GOOD.
AFTER THREE DAYS THEY PUT US
INTO OPEN FLATCARS, AND WE WENT
THROUGH DRESDEN, SOUTH INTO
OCCUPIED CZECHOSLOVAKIA TO
PILSEN.
AND FROM PILSEN WE ARRIVE IN
MAUTHAUSEN.
ON JANUARY THE 25TH, '45, WE
ARRIVED IN MAUTHAUSEN, AND THAT
WAS 13 DAYS WITHOUT A DROP OF FOOD.

Steve says HOW DOES ANYBODY SURVIVE 13 DAYS
WITHOUT FOOD?

Max says WHEN YOU KEEP ON GOING YOU
DON'T NEED FOOD ANYMORE.
YOU JUST KEEP ON GOING WITH THE
LITTLE MUSCLE THAT YOU HAVE AND
YOU KEEP MARCHING BY--LIKE A
ROBOT, LIKE A ZOMBIE, YOU KNOW.
ONCE YOUR SYSTEM IS SUCH THAT,
YOU KNOW, YOUR STOMACH IS THAT LITTLE.
AND I DON'T KNOW, I WASN'T
HUNGRY AND WE SPENT ANOTHER FOUR
DAYS ON TOP OF THAT IN
MAUTHAUSEN WITHOUT A DROP OF FOOD.
AND THEN THEY LOADED US UP ON
CATTLE CARS AGAIN, I WOUND UP IN
A PLACE CALLED MELK, WHICH WAS
ON THE DANUBE.
AND WE WERE WORKING IN SHAFTS
THAT WE WERE BUILDING, WE WERE
HACKING THIS OUT FROM A MOUNTAIN
FROM ROCKS.
HUGE TUNNELS THAT A TRAIN COULD
BACK RIGHT IN--THEY WERE
BUILDING, THERE WERE SIX
TUNNELS, FOUR WERE ALREADY
OPERATING, THEY WERE BUILDING
AIRCRAFT PARTS AND BALL BEARINGS
I THINK.
A TRAIN BACKED RIGHT IN AND
LOADED UP THE CARS AND WE WERE
BUILDING THE OTHER TWO.
AND YOU HAD TO SORT OF CUT THE
ROCK WITH AN AIR HAMMER.
I ARRIVED THERE AND THEY GAVE ME
AN AIR HAMMER, YOU KNOW,
EVERYTHING WAS SO HEAVY.
AND THE SHAKING, YOU KNOW,
YOU'RE TRYING WITH THESE HUGE
DRILLS AND YOU'RE TRYING TO CUT
THIS ROCK--YOU HAD TO BUILD SORT
OF A STAIRCASE TO GO UP HIGHER.
IT HAD TO BE SHAPED IN A CERTAIN
WAY.
AND THE SECOND DAY, THIS WORK
WAS RUN BY A CIVILIAN
ORGANIZATION CALLED THE TODT
ORGANIZATION, AND I SAID TO THIS
FOREMAN WHO HAD THIS BLACK
UNIFORM WITH A BLACK, FOUR-INCH
CAP, AND I SAID, "LOOK, I CAN'T
LIFT THIS AIR HAMMER ANYMORE,"
YOU KNOW.
AND...SO HE SAID, "OK, YOU
COLLECT THESE BITS."
THE DRILLS WERE BREAKING YOU'RE
HACKING INTO ROCK...

Steve says HMM.

Max says SO THESE DRILLS ARE BREAKING,
THESE ARE HEAVY DRILLS THEY ARE
ABOUT THAT DIAMETER.
HE SAYS, "COLLECT THE DRILLS AND
TAKE THEM OUT TO THE SMITHY."
AND SO THAT'S WHAT I DID,
COLLECT THESE DRILLS.
SO THAT WAS ANOTHER GOOD THING.
I HAD A KIND OF A JOB THAT I
COULD SAVE SOME TIME AND SLEEP
IN THE SMITHY UNDER THE TABLE.
THE BLACKSMITH WAS A RUSSIAN
PRISONER OF WAR.
WHO DID THIS WORK, SO THAT WAS A...
AND IN MELK, THIS WAS IN THE
WINTER,
IT WAS FEBRUARY AND MARCH, AND I
GOT A STOMACH FLU OR DYSENTERY
AND EVERYTHING COMBINED, AND I
THOUGHT THIS IS GONNA BE THE END
OF ME.
AND THIS--MISHA WAS HIS
NAME--HE TOLD ME HE SAYS--I
COULDN'T KEEP ANY FOOD DOWN--HE
SAID, "YOU'VE GOT A STOMACH
PROBLEM," HE SAID, "HERE'S A
PIECE OF CHARCOAL AND EAT THIS."
AND I WAS EATING CHARCOAL FOR
TWO DAYS.

Steve says CHARCOAL?

Max says CHARCOAL.
AND AFTER TWO DAYS THIS FIXED ME UP.
WE WERE MARCHING BACK TO CAMP
AND MY STOMACH JUST LET LOOSE
AND, YOU KNOW, YOU COULDN'T PUT
UP YOUR HAND WHEN YOU'RE
MARCHING IN A COLUMN, 1,500
PEOPLE A SHIFT, GOING BACK TO
CAMP AND, "LOOK, I NEED TO GO TO
THE TOILET," THERE WAS NO SUCH
THING.
SO--AND MY STOMACH JUST LET
LOOSE, AND YOU KNOW, THE INSTANT
THIS HAPPENED I FELT LIKE A
MILLION BUCKS, HONEST.
AND YOU SEE, HE KNEW FOOD I
COULDN'T' KEEP DOWN BUT THIS
CHARCOAL SORT OF SOAKED UP ALL
THE POISONS, AND I WAS OK, BUT I
HAD A BIG PROBLEM, HOW DO YOU
WASH IT.
ANYWAY, THIS WAS A--SO LUCK AND
RESILIENCE PLAYED A BIG PART.

Steve says WELL, AGAIN, OK...

Max says YEAH.

Steve says BUT THE TITLE OF THE BOOK IS
BY CHANCE ALONE WHICH MAKES ME
INFER FROM THAT THAT YOU THINK
IT WAS, YOU KNOW, OVERWHELMING
GOOD LUCK ON YOUR PART THAT YOU
HAPPEN TO BE HERE TODAY.
I'M COMING BACK TO GOD, DO YOU
BELIEVE IN GOD ANYMORE?

Max says I DO.
I KEPT THINKING THAT SOMEBODY
MUST BE WATCHING OVER ME.
YOU KNOW, I MEAN IT'S--I TELL
YOU WHEN I WAS REALLY DOWN AND
OUT, I WAS A REAL BAD--I USED TO
MAKE DEALS WITH GOD.
I'D SAY, "MY GOD, IF YOU LET ME
SURVIVE ANOTHER DAY I'LL BE THE
BEST PERSON--I'LL PRAY
EVERYDAY," AND ALL THESE THINGS,
YOU KNOW.
I MEAN, YOU DO ANYTHING AND
EVERYTHING, AND...

Steve says HOW DO YOU CONTINUE TO BELIEVE
IN GOD WHEN YOU'RE SURROUNDED
BY SO MUCH MISERY?

Max says WELL I'M NOT SURE THAT I
BELIEVED IN IT, IN HIM OR HER,
I'M NOT SURE BUT--THAT WAS THE
ONLY THING THAT YOU COULD DO.
THERE WAS NO OTHER WAY TO--I HAD
NO OTHER WAY OF PETITIONING
ANYBODY, SO I COULD TALK TO
MYSELF IN PRIVATE TO HIM, AND
MAYBE IT WILL HELP, SO.

Steve says HOW WERE YOU EVENTUALLY LIBERATED?

Max says I WAS LIBERATED IN EBENSEE.

Steve says WHICH IS IN AUSTRIA?

The caption changes to "Liberation."

Max says WHICH IS IN AUSTRIA.
MELK WE LEFT IN THE END OF MARCH.
THEY LOADED US UP--MELK IS A
PLACE WHERE THEY HAVE THE
BIGGEST FRANCISCAN MONASTERY
IN EUROPE.
SO THEY BROUGHT US DOWN TO THE
DANUBE AND THEY PACKED US INTO
RIVER BARGES.
IF YOU'VE BEEN TO HOLLAND YOU
SEE THESE BARGES THAT ARE BEING
PULLED ON THE CANALS...
AND THEY COVERED THE GATE, AND
ONE TUG-BOAT WAS PULLING FOUR OR
FIVE OF THESE BARGES ON CABLES,
AND WE WERE HAULED UP TO LINZ,
AND WE DISEMBARKED IN LINZ AND
WE WALKED FOR THREE DAYS UP TO
THE MOUNTAINS IN EBENSEE.
I ARRIVED IN THE BEGINNING OF
APRIL, 1945.
AND I REMEMBER, AND I WRITE
ABOUT IN THE BOOK HERE, WE CAME
UP ON THE MOUNTAINSIDE FROM A
SHARP TURN AND I'M LOOKING DOWN
AND I SEE THIS GORGEOUS LAKE
BELOW ME--THIS IS BEGINNING OF
APRIL, '45, AND I SEE ROWBOATS
ON THE LAKE.
AND LUFTWAFFE GUYS, THE AIR
FORCE IN THEIR BLUE UNIFORMS,
WITH THEIR GIRLFRIENDS IN THE
BOAT, ROWING ON THIS BEAUTIFUL
LAKE.
AND I SAID TO MYSELF, "ONE DAY
I'M GOING TO HAVE A BOAT TOO."
YOU KNOW, I WAS ALWAYS TRYING TO
LOOK FOR SOMETHING, YOU KNOW...

Steve says POSITIVE TO KEEP YOU GOING.

Max says POSITIVE, AND I LOVED SCENERY
AND I ALWAYS PICKED UP THESE THINGS.
AND SO, THOSE WERE--IT WAS A BAD
MONTH BECAUSE THIS WAS THE END
AND THE REICH WAS FINISHED AND
THERE WAS NO MORE WORK.
THEY SHUT THE CAMP AND THREW
AWAY THE KEY.
THEY DIDN'T GIVE US OUR RATIONS.
TYPHUS BROKE OUT AND IT WAS
KILLING PEOPLE BY THE THOUSANDS.
THERE WERE MOUNTAINS OF BODIES
PILED UP.
MILLIONS OF FLIES FLYING ALL
OVER THE PLACE, IT WAS HOT, THE
BODIES WERE DECOMPOSING, AND
FINALLY IT HIT ME, I GOT TYPHUS.
TYPHUS WAS A TERRIBLE THING.
LICE WERE BURROWED UNDER OUR
SKIN AND THEY CARRIED, YOU KNOW,
THE BACTERIA FROM BODY TO BODY.
AND THERE WERE NO DOCTORS OR
MEDICINE, AND I STARTED WITH
SLEEPING ON THE TOP BUNK WHEN I
ARRIVED EBENSEE AND FINALLY I
WAS ON THE LOWER BUNK BECAUSE I
DIDN'T HAVE THE STRENGTH TO
CLIMB UP.
AND PEOPLE WERE JUST KEELING
OVER RIGHT IN THE FLOOR OF THE
HUTS--THE BARRACK.
AND IT WAS--I FOUND OUT AFTER,
IT WAS MAY THE 6TH, I'M IN THE
LOWER BUNK, I WOKE UP,
SOMEBODY'S MUMBLING AWAY.
HE SHUFFLES IN, IN HIS WOODEN
CLOGS ON THE CEMENT FLOOR AND
HE'S MUMBLING THAT THE GUARDS
ARE NO LONGER IN THE TOWER.
AND NO LONGER IN THE TOWER AND I
KEEP HEARING, I SAYS, "I MUST BE
HAVING A FEVER DREAM."
YOU SEE MY SYSTEM WAS SHUTTING
DOWN, THIS IS THE END, YOU KNOW,
WHEN YOU DON'T WANT FOOD, AND I
THOUGHT I NEED TO FIND THIS OUT,
AND WITH MY LAST OUNCE OF
STRENGTH I KNEW THAT IF I DON'T
GET OUT OF THIS TERRIBLE PLACE
I'LL NEVER GET OUT OF HERE.
I HAD TO CRAWL OVER CADAVERS AND
I WAS OUT IN FRONT OF THE
BARRACK, AND I COULD SEE THAT
THE TOWER WAS EMPTY.
I MEAN, THAT WAS A MIRACLE.
I MEAN, THERE'S NO SS
GUARDS--THEY WERE THERE 24-7
SITTING BESIDE A MACHINE GUN AND
A SEARCHLIGHT.
SECONDS LATER THE GATE IS FLYING
IN AND A TANK IS COMING THROUGH.
IT HAD A WHITE STAR ON IT AND I
SAID, "WOW, THIS IS BETTER THAN
THE, YOU KNOW, THE CROSS OF THE
TANK UNITS."
AND THERE WERE BLACK SOLDIERS
SITTING ON THE TURRET.

Steve says THESE WERE AMERICAN SOLDIERS.

Max says AMERICAN SOLDIERS.
AND I'LL NEVER FORGET THAT sight.
THIS TANK IS COMING THROUGH AND
IT STOPS.
AND THE SOLDIERS WERE ON TOP OF
THE TURRET.
CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT THEY WERE
LOOKING AT?
THIS WAS A UNIT THAT CAME
THROUGH THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE.

Steve says MM HMM.

Max says A CRACK UNIT THAT WORKED UNDER
GENERAL PATTON'S THIRD ARMY,
AND I KNOW THIS FROM SGT. JOHNNY
STEVENS WHOM I MET MANY
YEARS LATER IN TORONTO.
BUT I LOOKED AT THEIR EYES,
THEIR EYES WERE LIKE SAUCERS,
THEY WERE IN SHOCK WHAT THEY
WERE LOOKING AT.
THEY NEVER SAW A SITE LIKE
THIS--AND THE SMELL.
WE COULDN'T SMELL THE
DECOMPOSING BODIES, I MEAN, WE
LIVED WITH IT.

A black and white picture appears on screen. It shows a multitude of extremely skinny men in drags.

Max says AND THEY WERE IN TOTAL SHOCK, SO
I KNEW THAT THIS WAS A WONDERFUL
THING.
AND, YOU KNOW, YOU ARE LIBERATED
BUT THE FIRST THING WAS, "AM I
FREE, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO
NOW?"
"I CAN'T GET UP OFF THE GROUND."
SO IT WAS SORT OF TOUCH AND GO.
THE IRONY OF IT WAS THAT WE WERE
DYING FROM STARVATION, MANY
MORE, I MEAN, YOU KNOW, I HAD
SOME BETTER RATIONS AFTER I WAS
IN THE OPERATING ROOM, BUT MANY
OTHERS DIDN'T.
WE'RE DYING FROM STARVATION.
NOW WHEN THE AMERICANS BROUGHT
UP AN ARMY KITCHEN AND THEY
STARTED TO COOK UP A
MEAL--STEW--AND THEY FED IT TO
PEOPLE, I SAID "I WILL NEVER
STAY IN A LINE-UP AGAIN, FOR AS
LONG AS I LIVE."
I WASN'T GOING TO GO THERE TO
THE KITCHEN.
FIRST I COULDN'T GET OFF THE
GROUND.
AND THE SMELL OF THE FOOD WAS
ACTUALLY MAKING ME SICK.
YOU DON'T WANT FOOD ANYMORE.
AND EVERYBODY WAS NAKED.
AND THEY HAD A POT OF STEW, AND
THEY ATE IT.
YOU COULD SEE THEM, THEY WERE
LIKE PREGNANT, AND TWO MINUTES
LATER THEY SIMPLY DROPPED DEAD.
THEIR STOMACHS RUPTURED AND IT
KILLED THEM.
SO, IT WAS A BIG DILEMMA FOR
THEM, THEY DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO
DEAL WITH THESE THOUSANDS OF
PEOPLE.
AND WE HAD TO BE FED WITH AN
EYE-DROPPER, BUT WHO HAD THAT
KIND OF INFRASTRUCTURE TO BRING
US BACK TO NORMAL HEALTH, YOU
KNOW, IT WASN'T POSSIBLE.
SO IT WAS A LONG HAUL, AND IT
TOOK ME THREE YEARS TO BECOME
MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY HEALTHY.

Steve says THAT'S WHAT I WANT TO PICK UP ON.
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE, GIVEN
EVERYTHING YOU WENT THROUGH--THE
DESTRUCTION OF YOUR ENTIRE
FAMILY, THE DEPRAVATION, THE
MURDER, ALL OF THE KILLING YOU
SAW, THE INHUMANITY--HOW IS IT
THAT YOU ARE NOT A COMPLETELY
BROKEN PERSON?

Max says WELL, I TELL YOU WHEN I CAME
BACK TO MY HOME, IT TOOK ME
THREE WEEKS TO COME BACK FROM
EBENSEE FROM AUSTRIA.
I WENT WITH TRAINS FOR A FEW
KILOMETRES, AND THE BRIDGES WERE
BLOWN UP.
AND THE LAST FEW KILOMETRES I
GOT ON A RUSSIAN TROOP TRAIN AND
I WENT A CERTAIN DISTANCE, AND
THEN ON A FARMER'S CART, AND
THEN I CAME BACK TO MY HOME--I
COULD SEE MY HOME.
THAT HOME WAS A BUSY PLACE A
YEAR BEFORE AND I KNEW THAT
THERE'LL BE NOBODY THERE BUT I
WAS HOPING THAT OUR DOG,
FARCASH, WAS A BIG ALSATIAN DOG,
HE WAS OUR GUARDIAN--AND HE
WOULD HAVE KNOWN WHEN I WAS A
HALF KILOMETRE AWAY, HE WOULD
HAVE SENSED.
I WAS HOPING THAT HE WILL BE
THERE.
AND I'M THAT CLOSE AND FARCASH
ISN'T THERE.
THIS PLACE THAT WAS SUCH A BUSY
PLACE, CHICKENS, GEESE AND DUCKS
WERE ROAMING ALL OVER--TOTAL
QUIET, IT WAS A DEAD BUILDING.
AND I OPENED A DOOR, A NEIGHBOUR
WAS SITTING THERE, AND SHE GOT
SCARED LOOKING AT THIS MONSTER.
I MEAN, I WAS IN TERRIBLE SHAPE,
I HAD PLEURISY, MY BODY WAS
BLOWN UP.
I COULDN'T LAY DOWN, THE WATER
WAS UP TO HERE, IT WAS CHOKING ME...

Steve says YOU USED TO
SLEEP SITTING UP.

Max says I WAS SLEEPING SITTING UP, I
COULDN'T LAY DOWN.
SO SHE WOULDN'T GIVE ME A GLASS
OF WATER, AND I TELL YOU THAT
MOMENT I SAID, "MY GOD, WHAT AM
I GONNA DO NOW?"
AND THAT WAS REALLY A VERY--SO I
WENT TO SEE THIS NEIGHBOUR ILLY
CLENKA.
AND SHE SAW ME AND SHE WAS IN
SHOCK.
SHE GAVE ME A BATH, MY HEAD WAS
FULL OF LICE.
AND SHE SAID, "I HAVE TO TAKE
YOU TO THE DOCTOR TOMORROW
MORNING."
AND SHE DID AND THEY PUT ME ON A
HORSE AND BUGGY AND TOOK ME AWAY
TO THE HOSPITAL IN KASSA, 50 KMS AWAY.
THAT WAS A VERY CRUCIAL MOMENT.
AND YOU'RE BACK HOME AND YOU
DON'T HAVE A HOME.
IT'S, YOU KNOW--WE HAVE
NOTHING--SOME OLD CLOTHES, SHE
GAVE ME SOME OLD CLOTHES.
SO IN THE HOSPITAL, SOMEBODY
CAME TO VISIT, A GENTLEMAN, HIS
NAME WAS JOSEPH GOTTLIEB.
HE CAME TO VISIT TO SEE ANY
JEWISH PATIENTS--IT WAS CALLED
ST. ELIZABETH HOSPITAL, IT WAS
MANNED BY NUNS, THE SISTERS WERE
ALL NUNS WITH THEIR BIG HABITS,
THEY WERE AMAZING, KIND NURSES.
AND SO HE CAME AND HE SAID, "WHO
ARE YOU?"
I SAID, "I'M TIBO EISEN," THAT'S
MY REAL NAME.
HE SAYS, "EISEN," HE SAYS, "FROM
WHERE?"
WELL, I SAID, "FROM
[UNCLEAR]."
HE SAYS, "WELL, YOU KNOW, MY
MOTHER'S BROTHER WAS AN EISEN."
SO WE FIGURED OUT THAT WE ARE
RELATED.
SO HE SAID "LOOK, WHEN YOU GET
OUT OF THE HOSPITAL YOU HAVE TO
COME TO OUR HOME."
HE CAME BACK, HE RETURNED FROM
THE CAMPS WITH HIS SON AND THREE
DAUGHTERS.
THE THREE DAUGHTERS WERE
ACTUALLY HIDING WITH CHRISTIAN PAPERS.

Steve says HMM.

Max says BUT HE, HIS WIFE AND HIS SON,
THEY WERE DEPORTED TO THE CAMPS
AND HIS WIFE DIED IN THE CAMP.
AND WHEN HE CAME BACK HE MARRIED
ANOTHER LADY, SO A FEW MONTHS
LATER WHEN I CAME OUT OF THE
HOSPITAL I WENT TO THEIR HOME
FOR A FEW MONTHS.
I MEAN, I WAS THAT THIN, YOU SEE
THE PLEURISY WAS A BAD PLEURISY,
THE WATER WAS PUMPED OUT FROM MY
SPINE WITH A SYRINGE, IT HAD A
NEEDLE ABOUT THIS BIG.

He gestures about 12 centimetres.

Steve says THEY USED TO INJECT IT
INTO THE RIBS, I SAW IT...

Max says THEY PUT IT IN THE BACK BETWEEN
MY RIBS AND THE NURSES SAID,
"OH, I'M SO SORRY."
I SAID, "KEEP PUMPING" YOU KNOW,
AND I HAD SPENT A FEW MONTHS THERE.
AND THEY FATTENED ME UP, SHE WAS
AN AMAZING COOK.
AND HIS SON, ISAAC--ITZHAK, WE
BECAME GOOD FRIENDS, AND SO THAT
SORT OF GAVE ME A LEG UP.
AND, YOU KNOW, IT WAS SORT
OF--YOU KNOW, YOU COULD SORT OF
FEEL SORRY FOR YOURSELF, I KEPT
THINKING, "LOOK HOW LUCKY
ITZHAK IS, HE HAS GOT A FATHER,
SISTERS, AND I STILL HAVE
NOBODY," YOU KNOW.
IT WAS THIS FEELING OF BEING
ALONE, IT WAS A REAL BIG...
WHEN I SAW A BROTHER, TWO
BROTHERS TOGETHER--TWO BROTHERS
CAME BACK IN MY TOWN AND I SAID,
"LOOK HOW LUCKY THEY ARE."
AND YOU HAVE TO GET OVER ALL
THESE THINGS BECAUSE IT CAN
DRIVE YOU, YOU KNOW, DOWN A BAD
WAY IF YOU REALLY GIVE UP AND...
SO FORTUNATELY THE JEWISH
COMMUNITY WAS GETTING MORE
ORGANIZED AND THERE WAS AN
AMERICAN--AN AMERICAN JOINT
DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE.
THEY OPENED UP A SCHOOL, A
SHIVA, IN MARIENBAD--MARIENBAD
IS A WORLD-FAMOUS SPA OUTSIDE
PRAGUE.
SO WHEN I HEARD ABOUT IT, THREE
OF US WE GOT ON A TRAIN--WE HAD
NO MONEY.
WHEREVER WE WENT, YOU KNOW, WE
JUST GOT ON THE TRAIN AND WE
WENT, WE HAD NOTHING.
AND MONEY WASN'T WORTH ANYTHING
ANYWAY.
AND SO WE WENT TO THIS PLACE,
MARIENBAD, AND IT WAS A PENSION.
THE TOWN GAVE US THIS PENSION,
IT BELONGED TO THE OLD SUDETEN
PEOPLE WHO WERE DEPORTED FROM
CZECHOSLOVAKIA AFTER THE WAR.
EVENTUALLY THERE WERE ABOUT 35
OR 40 OF US IN THIS PLACE.
AND WE WERE SUPPORTED BY THE
AMERICAN JOINT, THEY FED US.
ALL THE SUPPLIES WERE BROUGHT
FROM AMERICA--FROM THE AMERICAN
ZONE.
AND A RABBI CAME WITH HIS WIFE
FROM BUDAPEST, AND A COUPLE CAME
AND THEY WERE OUR COOKS WITH A
KOSHER OPERATION, YOU KNOW, THEY
COOKED STRICTLY KOSHER.
AND THE BEAUTY OF THE PLACE, AND
I FOUND A--I BECAME AN
APPRENTICE AT THE DENTIST
OFFICE, THEY HAD A DENTAL LAB.
AND IN EUROPE EVERY DENTIST HAS
THEIR OWN LAB, AND THEY HAVE A
MASTER TECHNICIAN, SO I BECAME
AN APPRENTICE LEARNING TO BE A
DENTAL TECHNICIAN.
AND HE WAS A MEISTER TECHNICIAN,
HERR TEUTS, HE WAS A SUDETEN
GERMAN.
HE TOOK ME UNDER HIS WINGS, YOU
KNOW, I WAS NOW A REAL PERSON, I
HAD A LAB COAT, AND I WAS
LEARNING AND I REALLY LOVED IT,
I HAD VERY GOOD HANDS, AND SO I
SPENT THREE YEARS THERE.
WE HAD A BALL THERE, I MEAN, WE
REALLY BECAME REAL NORMAL PEOPLE
AFTER A WHILE.
YOU KNOW, THE FIRST YEAR WE HAD
TO DECOMPRESS, WE HAD THESE WILD
URGES.
I MEAN, THIS PENSION HAD THE
MOST BEAUTIFUL FURNITURE.
IT HAD PERSIAN RUGS, IT HAD
FURNITURE AND BEAUTIFUL
DISHES--WE DESTROYED EVERYTHING.
THERE WASN'T A CHAIR THAT HAD A
SINGLE LEG, OR THE TABLES--I
MEAN, WE JUST HAD THIS URGE
TO--AND THEN WE SETTLED DOWN,
AND SO...

Steve says I WANT TO ASK YOU ONE MORE THING.

Max says YEAH.

Steve says THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO'VE
BEEN THROUGH THE HOLOCAUST WHO
CANNOT TALK ABOUT IT.

Max says MM HMM.

Steve says IT HAPPENED 70 YEARS AGO BUT IT
DOESN'T MATTER, EVEN WITH THE
PASSAGE OF SEVEN DECADES THEY
SIMPLY CAN'T GO BACK THERE, IT'S
TOO HARD.
YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE TAKEN A
DIFFERENT DECISION.
YOU HAVE MADE IT, IN SOME
RESPECTS, YOU LIFE'S MISSION NOW
TO EDUCATE, TO TELL PEOPLE WHAT
HAPPENED.
HOW COME?

The caption changes to "Sharing stories."

Max says YOU KNOW WHEN I STARTED TO
SPEAK, CANADA WAS A DIFFERENT
WORLD AND THE WORLD WAS A
DIFFERENT PLACE.
AND WOULD I HAD KNOWN THAT
EVENTUALLY 25 YEARS LATER I WILL
SEE THIS POISON REOCCURRING
AGAIN, HATRED OF JEWS, RIGHT IN
THIS COUNTRY.
I MEAN, WOULD I HAVE EVER
THOUGHT, I THOUGHT I LEFT IT ALL
BEHIND IN EUROPE.
AND NOW IT'S COME AFTER US HERE.
AND I'M SPEAKING IN PARTICULAR
THE BDS MOVEMENTS IN
UNIVERSITIES, THAT IS
VERY CONCERNING, AND...

Steve says BOYCOTT, DIVEST, SANCTION.
BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS.

Max says YOU KNOW, JEWS ARE RUNNING AWAY
FROM EUROPE.
THERE WERE 12 MILLION JEWS
LIVING IN EUROPE BEFORE THE WAR,
THERE'S MAYBE TWO MILLION
JEWS--AND JEWS ARE RUNNING AWAY
FROM EUROPE, WHY?
A JEW CANNOT WEAR A KIPPAH IN
PARIS, IN LONDON, IN AMSTERDAM,
IN BRUSSELS, OR IN
BUDAPEST--MAYBE IN BERLIN.

Steve says HMM--ISN'T THAT IRONIC?

Max says ISN'T THIS IRONIC?
SO, THESE ARE VERY IMPORTANT
SIGNALS THAT ARE COMING MY WAY
AND THIS IS WHY WE SORT OF
SHIFTED INTO HIGHER GEAR, MANY
OF US SURVIVORS, WE SPEAK ABOUT
THIS, WE FEEL THIS, THAT THERE
IS A BIG PROBLEM COMING.
AND HOW DO WE IMPART THIS, GOD
HELP EVERYBODY THAT THEY DON'T
HAVE TO REPEAT THE SAME MISTAKES
AGAIN.
HOW THEY NEED TO BE AWARE.
YOU SEE, EVERYTHING STARTS WITH
WORDS.
LIKE A CASE OF BULLYING STARTS
WITH WORDS, BUT THE WORDS LEAD
TO AUSCHWITZ.
THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE, AND
THIS IS WHY IN OUR LAST FEW
YEARS THAT WE HAVE WE ARE TRYING
TO TELL YOU PEOPLE IF WE LOSE
THIS FREEDOM HERE IN THIS
COUNTRY, AND IT'S LOST JUST LIKE
THIS BDS MOVEMENT--THAT'S THE
WAY IT STARTED IN NAZI GERMANY,
EXACTLY THE SAME WAY.
HOW COME THAT IN CANADA
UNIVERSITIES ARE USING A SYSTEM
THAT THE NAZIS STARTED?
IT'S A DECEPTIVE SYSTEM, AND
ACTUALLY WHAT IT MEANS IS
EXCOMMUNICATION, EXPULSION,
EXTERMINATION.
THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE MEANING
ABOUT THE BDS MOVEMENT, THAT'S
WHAT IT IS.
SO, WE KNOW THE FACTS BUT MANY
PEOPLE THEY SAY, "WELL, WHAT
DOES MAX KNOW?"
I MEAN, I KNOW, WE KNOW WE GO BY
OUR GUT FEELINGS.
SO THIS IS WHY WE ARE DOING
THIS.
AND IF WE HAVE A CHANCE TO STAND
IN FRONT OF KIDS AND TELL THEM
THAT, "LOOK, WHAT YOU CAN LEARN
FROM OUR STORY, IT'S SO
IMPORTANT."
AND YOU KNOW, WE ARE INVITED TO
MANY SCHOOLS AND I WONDER WHY,
YOU KNOW, WE ARE STILL INVITED
AFTER ALL THESE YEARS?
YOU KNOW, I HAVE THOUSANDS OF
LETTERS THAT I HAVE FROM
STUDENTS.
I HAVE 10 OR 12 TWO-INCH BINDERS
FULL OF LETTERS, THANKING ME,
GIVING ME FEEDBACK.
AND I KEEP TELLING THEM, YOU
KNOW, "YOU NEED TO RESPECT EACH
OTHER, NO MATTER WHAT RELIGION
OR COLOUR ANYBODY IS."
AND I TRY TO TELL THEM, "DO NOT
BUY EVERYTHING THAT YOU HEAR,
TRY TO SIFT THE TRUTH," AND THIS
IS THE BEST THAT WE CAN DO.
AND I'VE EXPERIENCED LIVING
UNDER FASCISM, NAZISM AND
COMMUNISM IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA, AND
ANYTHING THAT ENDS IN AN -ISM IS
NOT A GOOD THING.
THE NAZIS HAD A SUPREMACIST
NAZI IDEOLOGY.
ANYONE WITH DIFFERENT FEATURES,
WITH RACIAL FEATURES, OR
RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, WHAT THEY
SAID, THEY'RE GOING TO BE SIMPLY
ELIMINATED, OR JEHOVAH'S
WITNESSES.
SO BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU BUY, AND
I THINK THIS IS WHAT OUR MESSAGE IS.

The caption changes to "Producer: Katie O'Connor, @KA_OConnor"

Steve says MR. EISEN, YOU HAVE WRITTEN AN
AMAZING BOOK.
BY CHANCE ALONE: A REMARKABLE
TRUE STORY OF COURAGE AND
SURVIVAL AT AUSCHWITZ.
MAX EISEN HAS BEEN OUR GUEST.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Max says THANK YOU STEVEN, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

They shake hands and say greetings in another language.

Watch: Surviving Auschwitz