Alice Lok Cahana
Born: 1929, Budapest, Hungary
Describes arrival at Bergen-Belsen [Interview: 1990]
Several days later we arrived to Bergen-Belsen. And Bergen-Belsen was hell on earth. Nothing ever in literature could compare to anything what Bergen-Belsen was. When we arrived, the dead were not carried away any more, you stepped over them, you fell over them if you couldn't walk. There were agonizing...people begging for water. They were felling...falling into planks that they were not pulled together in the barracks. They were crying, they were begging. It was, it was hell. It was hell. Day and night. You couldn't escape the crying, you couldn't have escaped the praying, you couldn't escape the [cries of] "Mercy," the, it was a chant, the chant of the dead. It was hell.
Germany occupied Hungary in 1944. Alice was deported to Auschwitz in the same year. At one time she was selected for the gas chamber, but survived because of a malfunction. As Allied forces approached the camp, Alice and other inmates were evacuated to the Guben labor camp. Alice, her sister, and another girl escaped during a forced march from the camp but were found and sent on to Bergen-Belsen. Alice's sister was taken to a Red Cross hospital, but Alice never saw her again. After the war, Alice emigrated to the U.S.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum - Collections