In the beginning of 1944 in Uzhgorod, Czechoslovakia, the soldiers came and made all of the Jewish families come out of their homes. I was 14 years old. Gentiles were hiding in their homes.
They took us to a huge brick factory that was Jewish owned. This was considered the Uzhgorod ghetto. This began four weeks of horror. We helped each other out. My father would sneak out of the factory late at night to get food and bring it back to us.
After four weeks, they took us to the train station and marched us to the cattle trains. For three days and two nights we were on the trains, all of us together still as a family. My father was a modern Jew. He was talking to a rabbi who said, “We are going to die Al Kiddush Hashem” (for the Sanctification of G-d’s Name.)
The trains took us to Auschwitz. The Germans were telling us to go to the right or to the left. My father stayed on the train to help everyone off. The Nazis ordered my father off the train. He refused to get off without food to feed his children. As I was watching my father get off the train, my mother, youngest sister, and brother were lost to me, I never saw them again.
My sister Diane and I stayed together. Somehow my sister Malka ended up with us too. After we went through the Selection, everyone was then shaved. I worried about what my mother would think but I never saw her again. We sisters stayed together in the same barracks with another friend from our home and her mother too. My mother was only 37 which we thought was so old.
We were in Auschwitz for eight months. Everyday there were Selections. We knew people were being burned day and all night. We were forced to kneel in water and snow for hours, and we were not allowed to fall asleep. There was little food and we were all slowly dying. We were hungry forever and ever and ever.
After eight months, “Dr. Death,” Dr. Mengele came to our barracks and said he needed 300 girls under 20 years old to go to work. I was the first to volunteer. I said “Let’s go,” and then many volunteered.
We were brought to the showers where we thought we were going to be put to death but we were being “deloused,” disinfected.
We were put on a train with horrible Hungarian Nazi soldiers. We were taken to Bruntal, a large factory where we had to make Nazi uniforms. I was chosen to be a cutter, which was a very hard job. I had to cut 350 shirts a day. I don’t know why they chose me but they did.
They would say “Schnell, schnell, schnell!”- work fast, fast, fast!
One day a soldier sat me down and asked,”Do you know why you are here?” I shrugged and he said “because you are Jewish.” I said to myself, “You are the killer and I am Jewish.” I did not think it was a sin to be Jewish. The soldier just walked away laughing.
We worked like dogs and the food was sparse. I had one dress and one blanket. I washed my dress at night. I was always late for the morning line because my dress was still drying
After about 8-9 months at Bruntal, we were liberated by the Russian Army on May 8, 1945. The Russian captain happened to be Jewish and made sure we three sisters were taken care of and given papers to return back to Uzhgorod.
It was very dangerous for three young girls with no man around. We went back home to Uzhgorod and got our home back. Our furniture had been stolen by neighbors, it was horrible surroundings.
I met my husband Nathan and we were married in Podmokly. Soon the Russians had taken over all of Poland and Czechoslovakia. We realized it was time to get out of Czechoslovakia. We walked to the German-Russian border; my husband carried me on his back to the German side.
We found out about a DP (Displaced Persons) camp in Germany and we stayed there for 3 ½ years. We needed to get papers to get to the United States. We had our first son, Victor in the DP camp. Finally, our papers came through and we left Germany on a ship for New Orleans, Louisiana.
We spent 24 hours in New Orleans and were then sent to Dallas, Texas where we stayed for eight years. We moved to Ohio because my sister Diane was there. My husband, Nathan, worked for the newspaper. Later, the Detroit Free Press moved him to Detroit. My husband later worked for an advertising agency. We lived in Oak Park, Michigan for 44 years and then moved to West Bloomfield.
To learn more about this survivor, please visit the Holocaust Memorial Center Oral History Collection and online at the Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, University of Michigan-Dearborn