My name is Itzik Weinberg. I was born in December 1938.
In September 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and for the Jews began the devil's dance. Like other people, we were sent to a ghetto, the Krakow ghetto, and until 1942 I lived in the ghetto. June 1942 was the time of the Great Action, which changed my whole life. They took almost my entire family. We were 64 souls. 60 of them were put on a train that day and sent to the Belsetz extermination camp. My father was 32, my mother was 28, and one of the reasons I agreed to testify here was as a memorial to them.
On that day, four of us were away. My brother, my father's sister, 23 years old, who had just married, her husband, and me. We were away because they took us into hiding that day. My father's sister realized that we were bound to end up like the rest of the family, and she decided we would flee the ghetto that night. With her meager savings she bribed the guards and the four of us escaped that night from the ghetto. That was their honeymoon: a trek that lasted 800 days and nights, all over Poland until eventually we fled via Czechoslovakia to Hungary. She had a particular method of survival. She would knock on a gentile's door and after two or three sentences she would sense by intuition, whether or not he was an enemy. Whether he'd sell us a piece of bread and give shelter or whether he would turn us in to the Gestapo. In the end of February 1944 she decided we must cross over the Hungary where there was no war. But we could be happy for only 19 days because on March 19, as you know, the Germans entered Budapest and the devil's dance resumed.
She heard a rumor that Israel Kastner was organizing a train to safety. When she heard that, she decided to get us on it, and save us by getting us to Eretz Israel. She found a Hungarian couple and they agreed that when the train started moving, she would toss us into a wagon, and they'd have to look after these two children who are illegal passengers and once in Eretz Israel they would place us with Youth Aliya.
But...that is not what happened. The negotiations failed and the train, instead of going to Eretz Israel, was sent to Germany, and 1,685 people ended in Bergen-Belzen concentration camp. Inside the camp they started separating, men to one side, women and children to the other, and our group dwindled until my brother and I were alone in the middle of the camp. Just before dark, we saw the silhouette of a girl coming and she said works in a foreign language. She spoke Hungarian, and we understood only Polish. But she gave us a warm hug, and we knew we were wanted, and she took us arm in arm to her barracks. She introduced us to her friend, Naomi Mayer, a beautiful 20-year-old, who decides to take us in and look after us, and also adopt us like a mother.
In December 1944 came the telegram we were waiting for along with the other train survivors. Kastner had managed to raise the money Eichmann demanded and we were released and went to Switzerland. It took us many months to recover, but eventually in September 1945, after 9 months in the Swiss paradise we were told we are about to immigrate to Eretz Israel through Youth Aliya.