Eva Ginzová's Diary Entry on Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors, April 23, 1945

Entry from the diary of Eva Ginzová from April 23, 1945, in which she describes the arrival of a transport of survivors from Auschwitz-Birkenau in the Theresienstadt ghetto. 

April 23 [1945]

[. . .] My God, the things that are happening here now, it’s difficult to describe. One afternoon (on Friday, April 20), I was at work when we saw a freight train go past. There were people sticking their heads out of the window. The looked awful! They were pale, completely yellow and green in the face, unshaven, emaciated, with sunken cheeks and shaven heads, dressed in prison clothes. . . and with a strange shine in their eyes. . . from hunger.

I ran to the ghetto straightaway (we’re working outside at the moment), to the railway station. They were just getting off the train, if one can call it getting off. Very few could stand on their feet (bones, covered in nothing but skin), others lay on the floor, completely exhausted. They’d been traveling for two weeks with hardly anything to eat. They came from Buchenwald and Auschwitz (Oświęcim). Most of them were Hungarian and Poles. I was so upset I thought I would collapse. I was still looking for our Petr among them since some of those  who arrived now were those who had left from here. But our Petr wasn’t there.

One transport after another started to arrive now. Hungarians, Frenchmen, Slovaks, Poles (they had spent seven years in concentration camps), Czechs too. No one from our family. And the number of dead among them! A whole pile in every car. Dressed in rags, barefoot or in broken clogs. It was such a terrible sight that hardly anyone had seen before. I wish I could express on paper all the things that are happening inside me. But I’m not talented enough to do that.

And how the poor people threw themselves at any food they were given, whatever it was. How they fought over it — awful! A woman gave a lump of sugar to a sick boy, he was about seventeen. He burst out crying. He was sobbing terribly, kept looking at the piece of sugar and the bread the woman had given him and kept on crying: “Sugar, sugar, sugar, weissbrot, weissbrot [white bread].” Then he ate it. God knows how long it had been since he had seen any. Some have spotted fever and many other nasty diseases.

And those who arrived from Litzmannstadt [Łódź] and from Birkenau told us awful  things. They said Oświęcim[Auschwitz] and Birkenau were made into one. They used to be two concentration camps right next to each other. Now it has been liberated. Every transport that had arrived in Birkenau had had everything taken away and been divided immediately. Children under fourteen, people over fifty, went straight into the gas chambers and were then burned. Moreover, they always selected some more to be gassed from those who remained. And the food was lousy. Coffee, soup, coffee, and so on. I wouldn’t believe any of it if I wasn’t told about it by those who themselves experienced it. I’m so worried about Petr and whether he’s still alive.1


  • 1 : Alexandra Zapruder, ed., Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust, 2nd edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015) 187–188.


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