It wasn’t the nicest place, Lodz.
First I have to tell you that my father passed when I was only 5 years old. My mother was left alone with the three of us. I was the youngest, no body to care for me. I lived with my uncle, who lived quite far away, and I stayed with them for 2 years. Those two years were torture, I wanted to be with my mother. They couldn’t see me, and I couldn’t see them. I cried that I wanted to go home. My uncle and aunt used to take me to a park and my family were all far away, and they looked at me from far away, but I couldn’t see them.
I stopped eating, and did a lot of stupid things to make them let me go home. I wanted to be home with my mother. I was there for two years, I left when I was seven, ready to go to school. In Europe you start school at seven. When I came home I took over the household, we all lived in one room, but it was a big room. My older brother got married and left, I stayed with my younger brother and my mother, and everyday I ran to the street-car to great her when she came home. I loved and adored my mother, as young as I was I felt sorry for her, because she was all alone.
I started school, and that was before the war. The Polish people hated us very much, when I walked out of my Jewish school they would throw stones covered in snow. They waiting for us to get out of school. They were just as bad as the Germans. Anyway, the time came that the war broke out, and we all went into the ghetto, where we used to live.
We didn’t have to move to move into the ghetto, we already lived in the area that was closed off. We lived at Limanowskiego, 24 Lodz. In that area, you grow up with rats and mice, and all those goodies.
My oldest brother had a baby already by then, and they all had to move into the ghetto. They moved in with us. And my older brother at one time decided that they were going to run away from the ghetto and go to Russia. He left with a group, and went to Russia, hoping to send for his family, where he expected it to be much better. Unfortunately, that never happened.
I was there with my mother and my brother and his wife and the baby. They got a little room for themselves. Living in the ghetto was no picnic, at least I was home, and I didn’t feel so bad. At this point I was probably 14, I had finished school by that time. When the war broke out, I was finishing school.
One day we were informed that we had to leave our home, which was a huge apartment house, a were had to go down to an inspection by the Germans. My mother was very scared, I don’t know what she knew or what she didn’t tell me. She put makeup on my face so that I would look healthier. We all went down, and I was holding onto my mother and they tore us apart. They took her away from me and sent her on the other side. I knew what that meant, I saw before that they had moved the older people, but she really wasn’t that old. They took them all away, and I never saw her again. I heard later that they were all transported and killed. It was such a big day for my and in my life, but I cannot remember when it was. It was so painful to me.
My sister-in-law was taken with her baby when my mother was taken. I didn’t know what had happened to my older brother, I assumed he must have been killed.
I stayed in the ghetto with my younger brother. It was too big of a room for two people to have, so they sent us in with another neighbor and gave our room to a big family, there was a housing shortage. We were ordered to go and work in the factories.
Me and my younger brother worked at the same factory, making 2x4s, probably for building houses. We had to cut large pieces of wood on a machine, it was our job. We lived in the ghetto to the very last, me and my brother were left after Rumkovski was gone. He had already left and we were still there. I know we were both transported one day on a train, and it took us to Auschwitz.
The men were selected here, and the woman were on the other side. They took the woman first to shower and cut the hair. I used to have gorgeous long hair. They gave us things that they wanted us to wear. When I walked out with the group, I could see the men. I called to my brother, but he didn’t recognize me anymore. They took him away later and I never saw him again. I heard about him later, but I never saw him again.
I lived in Auschwitz. You’ve seen the pictures, you know how we lived. Life there was horrendous. We had to get up when it was still night and go outside and they counted us to see if one of us didn’t run away. Then we went back to where we slept.
Life in Auschwitz, when you live there you couldn’t even go to the toilet when you wanted to go. You had to wait for them to come and take a group. If you couldn’t wait you were punished. But you didn’t really have a choice. People were beaten with sticks.
This went on for quite a while. One day we came out for them to count us, and they counted up a group of women including me, and said that we were being transferred. I was happy, maybe where I was going would be better.
They took us to a room and gave us different clothing and a package, something to eat. And I was happy, because I was leaving that place, how could any place be worse? We were transported to a train station, and when the train came three people before me they didn’t need anymore. 15 people were left behind. We were taken into a room and told to put away your clothing and whatever we had. And we were taken to the gas chamber. We all knew what was going on. There were men who started praying to G-d, all kinds of prayers, and He listened to us. There was a problem, and they couldn’t get the gas to work, and we walked out from the gas chamber back into the barracks where I came from. At that point it really didn’t make that much difference if they would gas me or not. I had no desire to live anymore, it was all too much, and I was so young. And if I deserved to live like that, I better not live. Other people were of course, happy. But it didn’t make me happy or overjoyed, I just didn’t feel at that time.
My whole life I believe in Besheret, it was meant for me to live. So I lived.
I don’t know how long I was there. There was no time. You didn’t know if it was the 13th or the 27th, who had dates? Everyday was the same. Maybe people remember, but some things I’ve just blocked out, maybe it’s better.
Eventually there came a time when they transported almost everybody from there. We went on the trains where they stuffed us all together. The train didn’t have wagons, I know that I was in one wagon, and there was standing room only, we were packed in like cattle. There wasn’t even room to sit down. There was no food or water, there was absolutely nothing. You were standing up, the next day you saw someone leaning down, we were all human you know… even if there wasn’t any food or water, and then we had to live in that.
I don’t remember the second camp that I was in.
The last camp was Ruchlits in Czechoslovakia. We worked, but I don’t know what we wre doing. We took one stone and moved it to another place, we had to work. I wouldn’t say they treated us as bad as Auschwitz, but… well, it wasn’t as bad. Especially when you worked, at least you weren’t sitting on the bed all the time, and they gave you a little soup when you were working. I had a special group of girlfriends, we stuck close together even though they were older. One night we decided to watch what the guards were doing at night, and we were going to try to run away. There were 6 or 7 of us, and we decided that whatever will be will be.
But I heard that he was in a camp where they were made to walk, and he couldn’t walk anymore. They shot him two days before the war ended. So I was alone in the world.
We ran and ran and ran. We came to a small town, people saw us on the street, and one family took us all in and allowed us to wash. We hadn’t washed or showered, and were filled with lice and all that crap. They were angels to us. They gave us something to eat. But they didn’t have anywhere to keep 7 of us, and they were already risking their lives.
They took us to a field and gave us blankets, they came every morning and brought us food and news of what was going on in the world. I don’t know how many weeks we stayed there. They brought us food and tried to make us want to live and survive. It was many many weeks, and they came one day and said “You are free, the war is over.” Then, I felt wonderful. I wanted to go and find my younger brother. I knew my older brother might have been in Russia. I thought maybe my younger brother was still alive, maybe I had a brother.