At this point, most people did not know what fate awaited them. There may have been a few exceptions like the dentist, a friend of my father, who killed himself, apparently after learning from his German nurse information on what was happening in the camps. I never heard of anyone trying to escape from the ghetto.
We were in the ghetto for seven to ten days before being put on trains for Auschwitz-Birkenau (Map). The ride lasted two or two-and-a-half days and, as in the ghetto, the conditions in the cattle cars were awful. We were all packed in like sardines. It was terrible. Many people were crying and moaning. We were terrified.
The Nazis revived the medieval term ghetto to describe the compulsory "Jewish Quarters" often in the poorest section of the city, where Jews from the surrounding areas were forced to live. Surrounded by barbed wire or walls, the ghettos were sealed before the deportation of Jews to the concentration camps. Established mostly in Eastern Europe, the ghettos were characterized by overcrowding, starvation and forced labour.
First established as a Nazi concentration camp in 1940 at Oswiecim, Poland primarily for Polish prisoners. In 1942 it was expanded to include the extermination camp-Birkenau (Auschwitz II) and the labour camp-Buna-Monowitz (Auschwitz III). Surrounded by numerous sub camps, it grew to become the largest of all the Nazi concentration camps. Approximately 1.1 to 1.6 million Jews and 100,000 other victims were murdered or died at Auschwitz. At liberation, only 7600 prisoners those not forced on death marches were found alive.