A Portion of the Diary


Andreas Toth

 (Andreas Toth was born in Semlak, Romania on Septeber 16, 1928, the only child of Andreas Toth and his wife the former Julianna Bartolf.  Following his completion of Public School in Semlak, he went to the Trade School in Temesvar and High School in Detta.  He died in the deportation to Russia on September 13, 1946, three days before his eighteenth birthday.) 

Thursday, September 14, 1944:

  Hungarian soldiers appeared in the village in the forenoon…a patrol.  In the afternoon the Hungarian soldiers (border guards) came to the market place along with four German soldiers with the terrifying oder:  Take flight immediately!  I was just having an afternoon nap and it was around 2 o’clock.  I rushed out to our fields, later went to the druggist, but he was closed, and then went and took a look at the soldiers.  They had set up artillery piece in front of our Lutheran Church pointing towards the west.   At our place out in the yard:  We were just separating the sunflower seeds from the large pods.  The wagon came and I helped unload it and we continued to work and then Aunt Kathi came.  She shared the news of the coming threat and the happenings that had taken place in the forenoon and then we went out to the fields in our wagon again.  Later I had to hurry and call her parents.  Our old Aunt Susi did not want to go back home and she would hear nothing about fleeing.  She stubbornly refused to change her mind.   The wagon drove into our yard and Mari immediately came for her child.   While we unloaded the wagon my father told them that in the meantime he had heard information to the effect that it was not really that bad after all.  We believed that the Russians would soon be here and would have a free hand and massacre all of us.  That is why every German person would soon be evacuated to the Reich in the soon to be arriving German trucks that would be sent for us.  But in reality it was not really that bad, even though the outlook was not that good!  It was all probably just an exaggeration, the kind that happens in a situation like this.   We were to hear the official word in the evening at the local dance hall and we went there, but the military officers were late in arriving.  Have patience!  Soon a Storm Trooper arrived and gave the word.  With a few short sentences he declared that this was an emergency situation—flee—the rules to follow on the journey ahead and well as the route that would be taken were given.  I went to bed at about two in the morning. 

Friday, September 15, 1944:

  Packing.  Rushing around.  Everything:  bedding and food.  The journey by wagon ahead of us was estimated to last three weeks.  Father went to look for a wagon.  After he found one, he had to give it to another man.  In the meanwhile, I was promised one, but it was taken from me on my way home.  We heard the noise of moving wagons from inside of our house and went outside to the street to watch.  There were several Romanians on the wagon with a Hungarian solider and they were heading home.  Our Hungarian brothers!  All of our efforts were in vain.  Only those had their own horses and wagons were allowed to set out.  We had a lightweight carriage and if I remember rightly we had a rocking horse somewhere.  If that is all one had, one could easily become discouraged.   The wagons were set out at five o’clock.  The column of wagons as one would expect started out punctually.  It upset me and I did not want to be there to see them start out.  Did I have to see all of the crying and weeping, and listen to the complaining and whining, lamenting and swearing, and witness the misery and sorrow?   It was estimated that there were ninety wagons.  They could travel at night and in the twilight hours and dawn.  A three week long journey!  Every hour the rain threatened under a dark sky.  Most of the wagons had a roof covering of some kind or an enclosed roof for the driver.  According to what we heard from others, the soldiers were rather rough with the people.  They tried to force the onlookers to go with them.   Father encouraged us:  “Not all could be accommodated in one transport, other wagon columns will be set up and who knows we might not have to leave at all.”  This is what my father thought, but I did not agree.  Did I suddenly have the right to say something about such life wrenching questions and the possible consequences?  Am I of age? Independent?  The head of a family?  But I began to notice that what my father thought and what he actually did become more and more obvious.   While the others were busy packing, I took the time to speak to some Hungarian soldiers.  What the net result of that was, I can leave to your imagination.  It is clear that a soldier simply thinks and acts like a soldier.  Who would protect us after the Hungarians left?  Perhaps the rumor that the Hungarians were still here was supposed to do that?  Or was it the flowers that they wore one their chests and would leave behind? 

Saturday, September 16, 1944:

  The calm before the storm: that is a fitting description for what is happening.  What were the people supposed to do?  The people who had fled out of fear with their horses and wagons on Thursday and Friday came back home because the German escort troops had actually gone before they arrived at their meeting place.  Some of them rested up while others went back to work to kill the time and to forget the whole thing.   I began to write and got nowhere.  I began to read and that didn’t work either.  I went for a walk but that did nothing for me.  It appeared to me that I would simply do what I always did and just leave it at that.  Even eating and sleeping fell into that category.   The events of yesterday had no impact upon us. 

Sunday, September 17, 1944:

  Only the morning of this day was peaceful.  The Hungarians soldiers left yesterday.  The Germans had left with the first columns in flight.  Later, still before noon, the Storm Trooper or an officer along with five men returned to the village.  Like a grass fire the news spread all around:  They wanted to assemble a second wagon transport.  Everyone fled out to their fields with their horses and wagons or went into hiding. 

Sunday, September 25, 1944:

  It’s all over!  The Russians are here. 

September 26, 1944:

  My birthday?  The cannons are speaking.  Their sound gets louder and louder and we work at the river building a bridge.  It rains, we work in mud and water and we do forced labour.  What does “Dawaii” mean in Russian?  I am forced to learn much more Russian. 

September 30, 1944:

  Forced labour every day.  We alternate, one day we work at the river and then a day on the roadway.  And how much longer is this going to last? 

October 10, 1944:

  The two week long sound of cannon fire is over.  The windows shook day and night.  The frontlines have moved further west and we have been left behind here in the east. 

November 1, 1944:

  Underground rumors.  Verschleppung?  (Translator’s note:  the word means to be dragged off to slavery by force against your will.  The word “deportation” is not an accurate description of the word’s full intention.) 

November 30, 1944:

  There is a sinister calm.  Every day there is forced labour.  And just when is Sunday?  I am completely unable to write a single understandable sentence.  I feel like I’ve been beaten to death. 

December 25, 1944:

  Christmas.  Silent night, holy night!  What will the new year, 1945 bring with it?  What can I wish for my parents today?  My throat feels like I’ve been choked.  Just thoughts…I wish you a happy new year! 

January 6, 1945:

  It is really not true, there won’t be a Verschleppung, it is all simply propaganda.  We are now allies of Russia…There have been so many rumors about locked railway cattle cars filled with people who speak Hungarian and German.  But they come from the west, from across the border in Hungary and the trains are rolling towards the east. 

January 9, 1945:

  It is true after all.  Our attempt to escape is successful and we are fortunately here.  Had it not been better to flee the previous September after all?  Now we sit here in hiding like a mouse in its hole.  But no one knows except for mother.   

January 25, 1944:

  It’s all over!  All over!  The Russians have arrested my mother in place of me.  Father isn’t here and I don’t know what to do, but one thing I know, that I cannot let my mother take my place in the Verschleppung.  I will report voluntarily so that they will release my mother.  I do so in the Name of God.  And now onward, come what may.   The train wheels roll on relentlessly towards the east.  Donbas in Russia.  Woroschilowgradskoe Oblasty, Woroschilowki Rayon, Parkomuna vis-à-vis from Zsiladel.   Hard labour.  Cold.  Hunger. 

September 1, 1946:

  “Janosch” has not let my father in to see me here in the hospital for a few days and I have such a great longing to see him.  Anything, just anything, as long as I am spared from scrubbing the floors.  In fact he doesn’t let anyone in.  But father still managed to sneak in.  But what can one say to one another in a few seconds.  Just shake hands…I will write a note and maybe “Joschka” will be kind enough to give it to my father.  He is a rather brave guy.   The fever has gone down and it’s about time.  For two weeks I did not get anything to eat because I did not work and I received 200 g of water daily along with two cups of coffee or tea.   I really can’t tell which this reddish brown brew is. 

September 2, 1946:

  “Janosch” promised me that if my fever did not return I can go out into the sun early tomorrow morning.  O dear sun, I have only been able to see you through the window in the evening for a few minutes before you disappear.   How clever “Janosch” really is.  He turned around the number 13 on the door to my room so that it cannot be read, but he will not be able to fool me.  Why have I been put in this room number 13?  I’m not happy with that. 

September 4, 1946:

  Yesterday I was so fortunate.  I sat out in the sun for a few minutes.  My father saw me right away and came to me.  We sat together on the bench and he had sent me a cup of milk for breatkfast.  How wonderful it was!  But the devil sent  “Janosch” to drive my father away because he was sitting next to me.  Do I have some kind of communicable disease?  Why can he not sit beside me?  Why did my fever rise to 40.5 yesterday around noon?  Today it is a normal 37.5.  It must be a result of the milk.  Milk is like poison for me. 

September 5, 1946:

  I don’t trust the whole thing.  Suddenly there in 15 minutes they wrote up a list of names of all of those to be sent home.  The transport could leave at any hour.  They only do that, so that I and my room-mates keep up our courage.  “Janosch” let them put my name on the list.   

September 6, 1946:

  Father has given up on his plan to have me transferred to the city hospital, even though I had been lying here in bed for a half a day in my clothes, ready to leave.  I really don’t want to go leave here, because the kind of treatment there in the large hospital is miserable and father would not have been able to come and see me because he cannot leave the camp.   I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I am just losing all of my strength.   This morning when I stood up and took a few steps I collapsed.  “Joschka” picked me up.  Obviously the few spoonfuls of soup I get, have too few calories. 

September 7, 1946:

  Father told me that the tall lieutenant assured him that it was certain that a transport would be leaving for home.  Oh, to be home again!  Perhaps I will still have enough strength to survive the journey.  If only I had some sugar water it would help and at home I know I would get better.  That is where the famous woman physician, Dr. Moga is.  If anyone can help me, it could only be her. 

September 8, 1946:

  I always hope that I am getting better, but the few spoonfuls of soup I am able to swallow, half of it comes back through my nose into the bowl.  I told father not to send me any more small green branches to swat all of these flies.  I can no longer hold them, they are too heavy for me now.  He should also not bring me the Bible that he borrowed from the professor.  I can no longer hold it.  It is too heavy for me.  I have no more strength.  I will try to write another poem… 

September 9, 1946:

  Everything is too much for me to bear, except to keep my eyes open.  Nothing came of my going home.  Yesterday I promised father I would not leave him.  He knows the way I think…Tonight when he comes I will give him all of my papers because my room-mates take everything they can lay their hands on and I can’t keep watch all of the time.  They even take the green branches when I sleep.   I was often sick at home!  But in comparison to here it is a matter of heaven and hell.  At home mother looked after me…home…Oh Mother 

September 10, 1946:

  I no longer have the strength to walk.  Oh the pain.  The Pain.  Going home.  Going home.  Mother my dearest I am coming.  I will soon be there…and everywhere.  Just a few days, but these minutes last an eternity.    

September 11, 1946:

  Forenoon.  Father understands my speech with great difficulty.  Soon, soon, just to hold his hand, what good fortune that would be… 

September 12, 1946:

  (Whatever Andreas tried to write is not legible.)   Andras Toth died in the night of the 12th and 13th of September, 1946.  His father, Andreas Toth, who was also in the same camp wrote the following: 

September 10, 1946:

  Until New Years in 1946 Andreas worked alongside of me in this camp and then as a wagon builder in the Konyuscha Kolchose (Translator’s note:  Collective Farm) about 500 meters distant from the camp.  He had a good job and foreman and was never sick, except in the months of March to May in 1945 because the rations here were so bad.  Then, like all of us, he became very weak, but slowly recovered much better than most.  We finally had enough to eat or all of us would have died and been of no use to them. 

September 11, 1946:

  The pain!  The pain!  He said that at least ten times today when I was with him at eleven o’clock.  On August 15th he came down with a terrible illness and for several days before he complained of being constantly tired and experiencing pain in the area around his kidneys.  But now he no longer has any pain and for two days he has had no fever.  He was allowed to go out into the sun for half an hour.  With the permission of the doctor I gave him a half liter of milk this morning, and since he enjoyed it, I gave him another half liter in the afternoon.  A high fever developed by evening and all they did for him was cold compresses and quinine.  Later, he received other powders and injections of grape sugar.  Then he could no longer eat anything and drank just water and coffee or took a few spoonfuls of soup.  For several days we noticed that he spoke with great difficulty.  His tongue and mouth were dry and cracked from fever.  Because of dysentery he received less and less water and became thinner.  The day before yesterday he complained that he was losing his strength and had to sit to urinate.  I spoke to him and challenged him to eat and drink, which he promised he would do.  I said:  One word, one man?”   He answered, “One man, but one who is weak.”   Andreas did not believe he would return home, but once he discovered I wanted him to be transferred to the city hospital he begged me to leave him here.  When I asked him the question about going home, he said, “Yes.  Going home.  Yes.”   Today in the forenoon when I was with him, he was often unconscious for short periods of time, but never more than a few minutes.  We prayed together, which appeared to make him feel better.  At five o’clock in the afternoon I was with him until seven.  When I entered his room he was conscious, but he did not know me.  After a few minutes he asked me who I was and who was in charge here and when he got up he would go to Africa.  Then the attack was over.  After this he drank some coffee and sat up. We talked about some things.  He complained again that he felt so weak and whereupon I encouraged him that he had been weak most of his life to which admitted had been true. To the question as to whether he would have another injection in the morning, he answered that the one he had received that day was the last, because by tomorrow it would be over.  He told me that he lay there without his underpants, had no shirt, was naked just like when he entered this world and he would leave it in the same way.  He told me that he had to die and knew what he was saying.  Then he suggested I leave and we said farewell to one another.  I winked at him and winked back just like we did before we went on a long journey together.   Around nine o’clock in the evening I visited Andreas again.  He was lucid and knew me but asked the same thing ten times.  I did not know if he was unable to hear or whether he was just depressed.   Then we prayed the Lord’s Prayer and Andreas asked me to pray for him that he might have a restful night. 

September 12, 1946:

  I went to see Andreas at nine o’clock in the morning.  He seemed quite lively, but had not left his bed for two days now.  I asked him if he had eaten breakfast and how he responded indicated he had not understood me.  With regard to the question of whether he wanted coffee or water, he made a sign that he did not want to go down from the bed.  I moistened his lips and tongue that were cracked and dry.   When a truck suddenly arrived to pick up some of the patients, he became very upset.  As a sick Polish patient left the floor, Andreas pointed in the direction of the door indicating he wanted to go home as well.  In response to my question of whether he would rather stay here with me until the he felt better before he set out on such a long journey, in which he could easily die, he answered, that he would rather go to see his mother one more time.  Then I told him that today the Polish inmates were leaving and the Hungarians and the Romanians would leave a day later on another transport.   But because the sick Hungarians in his room remained and the Polish patient was brought back, he became upset again…   While he moistened his lips himself, I said to him that this was a good sign and that he was getting better and that he should keep it up.  He was visibly relieved and no longer had a fever, but his pulse was weak.  I remained until 12:30.  He had not eaten anything nor did he want anything.   In the afternoon around two o’clock I returned again.  Andreas was cheerful but not as lively.  I moistened his lisp and then he told me he would like to rest.  At 4:30 I returned to be with him and stayed until it was almost eight o’clock.  He was becoming more and more weak and around evening became unconscious.  When he regained consciousness I took his two hands and placed them over one another on his chest and spoke to him that he had to be strong and steadfast now.  I spoke to him of God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, about eternal life, the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection and that God the Father had cared for him to this day and that all things happened according to His will.  After a few seconds he spoke so clearly and loudly, in a way the head not heard him speak for days, “Amen”.  It was his last word.  He closed his eyes and lay still.  His pulse beat, but it was weak.  I had to go, the others had eaten and the hospital closed.   Andreas died in the night of 12th and 113th of September.  Shortly after midnight he was restless for a short time and the nurse gave him some water.  Then he fell into eternal sleep.   (The following poem was written by Andreas on September 8, 1946) 


 In Dombas life is so difficult and hardFather come home, I won’t leave you here any longer.I will be your shield and protectorAs we walk in God’s appointed way. I have always obeyed my father,Do the same and provide for yourself.I will never abandon you, I have promised you that,Believe me, I have never broken my word to you. And even if I am tired and weakAnd am lying here in misery!Soon I will be the Victor!My Victory:  Death will never come again. Life on earth was like a dream.Soon my life will begin in eternity,The Lord Himself provided for my new beginning,Have I done anything to deserve it with my life? The Lord takes His own to Himself,Whatever is left over, is what I am!My body is weak and wants to go to restAnd I close my eyes. Father, Mother, I will smooth your way,And lead you to everlasting life,In God’s beautiful garden in heaven,Where we will see each other, just have faith. (Taken from the Heimatbrief from Semlak. a Danube Swabian Community in Romanian Banat through the courtesy of Rose Mary Hughes)

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