Paula Marks-Bolton

"To love each other.  It should never make any difference what nationality, what religion, what color of skin a person is, we must love each other.  We must speak up whenever there is injustice.  Together we will make a better world.      Love and understanding.     My hope speaking for over eighteen years at the Holocaust Memorial Center, to the people that come through is to tell my story, my message, and help the ones that cannot help themselves. We have to be alert to... (continued below)"

Name at birth
Paula Rajchman
Date of birth
08/01/1926
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Ozorkow, Poland
Name of father, occupation
Israel Rajchman, Weaver
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Sarah Sieger, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, brothers Moishe, Shmeril, Shimik and me
How many in entire extended family?
60
Who survived the Holocaust?
My brother Shmeril and me
I arrived at Auschwitz from the Lodz Ghetto in the spring of 1944 when I was 18. Arriving at Auschwitz was the most horrifying sight.  The barracks, the crematoriums, people who looked like they were from outer space with striped prison dresses and wooden shoes.  Most of them were barefoot and they looked like people I have never seen before.  They were trying to tell the new arrivals how horrible it was.  “Where are you coming from?” they shouted, there were people coming from all over, day and night.  But of course they were pushed by the prison guards.  They were trying to warn us the best that they could but they were being pushed and beaten away.
 
There were guards everywhere, barracks and barracks everywhere.  In front of the cattle car stood a white uniformed gentleman, his name was Dr. Mengele, the butcher of Auschwitz.  First, the men were ordered out of the cattle car.  Then, he stood erect and ordered the women out.  We never saw the men again.  
 
He pointed with his thumb, right, left, right, left.  We had to get out as fast as we can.  When I arrived to Auschwitz I came with a dear friend, her name was Ruta.  She always tried to help me.  He ordered his thumb and ordered us to go to the right.  Others, he ordered to the left.  
 
Those of us that were accumulated to the right were led to into the bathhouses.  When I walked in with my group, I saw the piles of human hair, the piles of shoes, and the piles of gold.  The piles were formed by the group prior to us to show us how it was done.  
 
The guards ordered us to strip.  Most of the girls came from the ghetto with long hair.  The guards proceeded to shave us.  We were ordered to put our belongings in those piles, our shoes, clothing, and gold.  In the gold piles were wedding bands, gold watches, bracelets.  When the piles were tall enough, they took them away.
 
Then we were ordered to put all of our belongings into those piles.  Next they were shoving us.  Young guards proceed to shave us everywhere.  They disinfected us with smelly solutions and big brushes everywhere.  We looked at each other like lost sheep.
 
When I came to Auschwitz, I had a tiny picture of my mother. In that bathhouse, I was holding it in my fist and I would not let go of it.  They started to beat me; they thought I was holding in my fist, gold or diamonds.  I opened my fist and showed them that I had just a tiny little picture of my mother.  I closed my fist, I wouldn’t open it again, life was not worth living, I had nobody to live for.  
 
But I did not want to give up the picture of my mother.  They proceeded to beat me all over my head and body and pulled at my fist.  The picture of my mother fell to the ground, face up.  I looked down on the floor and saw my mother’s eyes staring back at me and telling me, “Paula, stop crying it will be ok.”  But she was not there to say that, but in my heart she was.
 
I stopped crying and they pushed me in with the other people into the showers.  But those who went to the left were gassed, they did not have showers.
 
My parents perished at Treblinka, sent from the Ozorkow Ghetto
 
We then each received a little prison dress and some wooden shoes, with no underwear or socks.  They then marched into the filthy, freezing barracks.  Ruta was still with me.  We were huddling next to one another and the women guards who were vicious were preaching to us that we would never escape Auschwitz.   “Look and smell the chimneys, this is your loved ones; this is where you are going to wind up. You’ll never escape from Auschwitz.”  Our group did not get numbers.  
 
Every few hours the Gestapo would come into the barracks and order us to get undressed and get out, they need to count us. The Gestapo seemed to receive pleasure seeing us naked having roll calls.  Every so often they took out the most beautiful girls and Ruta was one of them.  I can still hear her cries, “Paula, don’t leave me!” and I cried back, “Ruta don’t leave me!”  We were holding hands and we would not let go of each other.  They were stronger than us and they pulled her away.  She perished in Auschwitz.
 
Our group was after a very short time sent to another camp, Ravensbrück.  It was one of the most horrifying camps again.  I was not too long in Ravensbrück, after a short time they sent us to another camp, the name of the camp was Muhlhausen, deeper and deeper into Germany.  
We opened up a new camp, in Muhlhausen, a few hundred girls which I remember with kinder thoughts.  We worked in an ammunition factory; we received in the camp a cup of coffee and a piece of bread before we were marched to the factory through the forest.
 
When we came back in the evening we received a piece of bread and some soup.  It was watery but it was something.  We were always starving from hunger and freezing cold.  We also received a blanket in Muhlhausen which was unheard of.  I remember with kind thoughts, my German foreman, he was a grandfather; he always stopped by my station and talked to me.  He brought me a little piece of bread or some rags to put around my feet; I was always hungry and frozen.  
 
He told me about his family, and I told him about mine.  He liked me as a person; his granddaughter’s name was the same as mine, Paula.  He said to me, Paula, the Nazi regime has murdered millions of Jewish people and children; the war is coming to an end.  Do whatever you can to survive and maybe you will be lucky enough to find somebody from your family.
 
The only regret I have, I never asked him his name but I have been speaking at the Holocaust center for the past twenty years, and in every presentation, I remember my wonderful German foreman. He did not see a little Jewish person in front of him, what he saw was a human being in trouble.  And for this I shall always, I will always, speak about my German foreman, what an impact another person can make on another person. We must always show love and kindness to one another to make a better world.  
 
Indeed the war was coming to an end and they were marching all the people out from the camps.  Women were not together with men in the concentration camp, at least not where I was.  
 
We were marching under guard, and we see far on the horizon, men walking from different directions, and women from different directions, we didn’t know where we were going.  This is already five years, it took its toll.  People cannot endure anymore.  We are marching under guard.  And people are falling to their deaths, they cannot endure anymore.  
 
This was called the death march.  When people fell down, and a friend went over to help, the guard killed the one who fell and in many cases killed the one who tried to help.  
 
The rest of us had to march on for days and nights without bread or water.  We were marching into the last camp finally; the name of the camp was Bergen-Belsen.  Again I could not believe my eyes; I saw scattered, decayed bodies all over Bergen-Belsen.  Human waste ditches, everything was in an uproar, crazy like a nuthouse.  
 
Women guards were picking forty girls from the new arrivals.  They were sending us into a kitchen to peel potatoes.  We were devastated, hungry, and freezing.  We swallowed the raw potatoes and the peelings into our mouths as fast as we can.   But as soon as the guard saw us doing that, they took all forty girls out of the kitchen, we had to bend over and we received twenty-five leather straps on our bare behinds with out any mercy. 
 
The Jewish people were not humans to the Nazi regime.  And as all people in the world know what the Jewish people have contributed to the world and continue to do so where ever they are born- great scholars, great scientists, great professors, writers, and teachers.  The Jewish people have contributed so much to the world. 
 
The war was coming to end, we heard shootings we heard jeeps running back and forth, we knew we were going to be liberated.  But were we going to survive at this point? We were all sick. We had typhus, dysentery, high temperature, and other diseases.  We could not keep our heads up straight.  We had lice crawling all over us.  
 
We could not keep our heads up; the wonderful moment of liberation arrived.  Young soldiers were jumping off of their jeeps and storming into the kitchen and screaming out with joy, “You are free! You are liberated!”  But we were too sick to get up on our own.  
 
We fell to the ground to thank them but were too sick to get up. The British soldiers did everything they could to help us.  Most people were so sick; they medicated us they fed us. But we were too sick; our stomachs were shrunk and could not hold the food.  So many people died even after liberation.  
 
Only by sheer miracle did we survive. Everyone who survived is a miracle. I must tell you, the ones that did not survive, didn’t do anything different than the ones who did survive.  
 
I gave a promise to the 6 million who perished in the Holocaust- men, women, and children, and my beloved family, which consisted of 60 some people who perished in the most horrifying ways- that I will teach others so this will never happen to anybody as long as I live, it should never to my thinking , it should never make any difference, what religion a person is, what nationality a  person is, what color of skin a person is- we are all connected, we are brothers and sisters, we are all G-d’s children. May G-d bless you and keep you. And may G-d bless the United States of America. 
 
I lived in Bergen-Belsen which became a DP camp, for a while.  I met Martin Marks, the man I married in Bergen-Belsen.  I found a distant cousin of mine and he told me that he was living in Hanover. They had a kibbutz (an Israeli collective settlement) there composed of all survivors.  They had a rabbi and a functioning community, they had their own police.  People got to know each other, married there, kitchen everybody ate together.  So we moved to Hanover and we were married there.  
 
We came to Detroit in 1949 through the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) because I had family here, the Zieger family and the Meisner family.  We were helped by my aunt Jenny and Dr. Alan Zieger, the founder of Botsford Hospital.  His father was my uncle, my mother’s brother.
 
I had gone back to school in Hanover.  I learned English; I learned dress making and designing.  I worked in Detroit for Nat Green’s on Seven Mile Road and Livernois, on the Avenue of Fashion.  I later went into business for myself.
 
My husband Martin was a policeman in Hanover, he guarded our kibbutz.  In Detroit, he worked in home improvement for many years working for Budman and later Belvedere Construction. 
 
I learned after the war that my brother Shmeril survived.  He was able to flee to Russia at the beginning.  We were reunited in Israel after being separated for 32 years.

 My first husband, Martin Marks passed away in 1989 of pancreatic cancer, at the age of sixty-four.  Martin was from Bendjin, Poland. He was also a survivor of the Holocaust.  His younger brother David survived with him.   Martin lost his parents and his little sister, martin was reunited with his brother in a concentration camp 
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Occupation after the war
Dress Making and Designing
Spouse
Martin Marks and Phillip Bolton, Home improvement
Children
Shelly and Noreen
Grandchildren
Sarah Rose Svenson Two great-grandsons: Ivin Martin and Jonathon Lyndon
What do you think helped you to survive?
The hope that I would be reunited with someone from my family. I longed for my family. The drive, the hope of surviving to be reunited with my mother and father, the hope of meeting someone of my loved ones, that’s what kept me alive, that’s what kept me going.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
To love each other.  It should never make any difference what nationality, what religion, what color of skin a person is, we must love each other.  We must speak up whenever there is injustice.  Together we will make a better world.   
 
Love and understanding.  
 
My hope speaking for over eighteen years at the Holocaust Memorial Center, to the people that come through is to tell my story, my message, and help the ones that cannot help themselves.

We have to be alert to protect whenever injustice love each other be kind to each other, Every religion, nation, color of skin, we are all related we are all brothers and sister, we are all god s children.
Interviewer:
Charles Silow
Interview date:
08/05/2011
To learn more about this survivor, please visit:

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