At the last stop we were relieved when the doors were finally opened amid much noise and mayhem. Prisoners in striped uniforms screamed at us and forcefully dragged the weak and old out of the wagons. I saw smartly dressed SS guards whacking at people with heavy walking sticks in order to make us move faster "schnell! schnell!" (faster, faster). We were herded into two lines one for men, the other for women. We did not know what was at the head of the line.
My father kept me in front of him and told me to make myself appear taller. When it was my turn to be in front of the officer, I told him I was 17 years old, a tinsmith by trade and a good worker. It was a lie on all three counts. My father theorized that as long as we were of some use to them, they might keep us alive a bit longer. It worked. The officer looked down at me, smiled, shook his head, and sent me to the right. As I was running I looked back and saw my father behind me. That gave me some comfort, but soon I was separated from him and put into a group with other boys about my age.