Interview #13 • September 20, 1987
Running times approximate.
Reviewer: Diane Bareis
Born: Near Krakow, Poland, September 20, 1928.
His family was in the wholesale farm product business which afforded them a comfortable life. Three brothers, seven uncles, six aunts, two grandparents, and his parents died during the war.
3:50 Discusses non-Jewish neighbors as he grew up. Attended Catholic school in the morning and Jewish school in the afternoon.
4:35 When the war broke out, food was less available and they were forced to wear armbands. Relations with non-Jews changed for the worse.
7:40 Murray was thirteen and his brothers were seventeen-, fifteen-, and twelve- years old the last time he saw them. They had been forced out of their home and assigned to Bocknia (sp?), a Jewish ghetto. The family decided to go to the forest, instead.
10:00 Signs had been posted in the woods, “Work will make you free.” There were also signs posted to proclaim that Jews would be resettled.
12:51 Murray describes life in the woods and his decision to sneak back into the ghetto. Back in the ghetto, people were desperate for food and suffering from illness and disease.
14:30 He volunteered to work for the Germans, carrying ammunition, cleaning barracks, and cleaning boots. In the winter, he shoveled snow to clear the roads.
17:00 An account of the city council, clergy, and the mayor being arrested by the Germans.
20:00 Jews lost Polish citizenship.
20:18 Murray tells the story of Secret Service trucks driving by and being picked up and carried to a Krakow cemetery. The detainees were lined up and asked for their names and ages and became the group known as “150”. They were forced to dig up graves and search for gold in the teeth of the corpses. A concentration camp was built on that site (Yursalimska, sp?).
26:00 When people escaped from capture, others were killed as a consequence. Murray was on a list to be one of those killed, but managed to hide.
28:20 Describes delousing procedures, meals, and bathrooms at the camps.
31:00 Describes an escape attempt of his own.
33:30 In 1943 he (along with others) was moved to a train station and onto rail cars. They arrived at Kelsar (sp?), a camp that manufactured wheels and wagons for Germans.
37:20 He was moved to Auschwitz and describes the appearance of the camp upon arrival.
38:50 He was moved to Birkenau, given prison clothes and a tattoo, B2992.
45:20 Murray worked in Trabinia (Treblinka? Part of Auschwitz compound) at a refinery. The refinery was bombed, but the train tracks leading to Auschwitz were never bombed.
48:40 He was still living with the assumption that his parents and brothers were safe.
50:15 Toward the end of the war, the prisoners were marched out of Auschwitz. They marched for over two days and many were shot along the way. They stopped at a farm one evening. Along with others, Murray was told to go into the barn, where they slept for the night. He had crawled deep under the straw and when the Germans ordered everyone back out of the barn, he and another boy stayed. The boys, as well as four other prisoners, were able to stay hidden from the Germans. They walked away from the barn after the Germans had marched everyone else away.
The boys were discovered by Polish partisans and stayed at a farm briefly.
56:53 Russians came into Poland. Upon his return, Murray saw that the city, especially the Jewish quarter,t had been destroyed. After the war, Polish citizens murdered Jews who tried to return to and reclaim their homes.
1:07:00 Murray came to Bronx, New York at age 18. He stayed at an orphanage as he searched for other Ebners in New York City. He learned that a cousin lived in Springfield, Ohio and went to live with this family. In 1948 he moved to Columbus where he worked in a warehouse.
He was drafted for the Korean War and served in the 101st Airborne. Later he was assigned to United States security in Washington, D.C. Later, ironically, he was assigned to a post guarding the border between East Germany and West Germany. He had to protect the Germans from the Russians.
He felt subhuman in the camps but he survived because he had hope and because he never knew the extent of the cruelty until after the war.