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Dutch Jewish Children

22025 Dutch Jewish children under the age of 21
All were victims of the Holocaust
 
Graphic shows the number of Dutch children and young people under the age of 21. All were victims murdered by the Nazis.  

       22025 Dutch Jewish children under the age of 21 were murdered by the Nazis. Of these, 8161 were infants and young children under the age of 10. All these children were Nazi Holocaust victims. The crime for which they were killed can be spelled out in just a few words. They were Jewish children.

Vienna Buries Child Victims Of the Nazis

In a moving ceremony of remembrance and public apology, the last remains of handicapped or mentally ill children experimented upon and then killed by the Nazis were buried today by the city of Vienna.

From 1940 to 1945, when Austria was a part of Hitler's Third Reich, at least 789 deformed or mentally handicapped children, some of them brought here from Germany, were killed at the children's clinic called Am Spiegelgrund.

Under the Nazis' program to rid the society of genetically impure people considered ''lebensunwertes Leben'' -- life unworthy of life -- the children were used for experiments in the name of medical research into congenital and hereditary abnormalities. Then they were killed with large doses of barbiturates.

Their brains were dissected or kept in jars of formaldehyde, and used for research as late as 1998, helping to make the postwar reputation as a leading neurologist of a former doctor at the clinic, Heinrich Gross. Only in 1997 did a researcher disclose the source of the doctor's medical library.

Only now, with Dr. Gross declared incompetent to stand trial and with increasing pressure from relatives of the victims, has the state prosecutor released the remains for burial.

Dr. Gross, 86, still retains the high state medal he was given in 1966 for services to Austria.

President Thomas Klestil called the formal burial service today ''very late for our country,'' and promised that ''this dark time of our history must constantly remain in the present.'' He said it remained important that the guilty be punished ''within the framework of the law.''

But Waltraud Häupl, speaking for the survivors, called on the politicians gathered so soberly here ''to finally and quickly bring some justice'' by at least stripping Dr. Gross of his award and medical license.

Her ''beloved little sister Annemarie,'' whose remains were among the last two buried here in black urns, ''was brought to Spiegelgrund by parents who did not know they were putting her in the hands of murderous physicians,'' Ms. Häupl said. ''At the age of 4, she was poisoned and became a victim of National Socialism.''

The novelist Robert Schindel, who spoke at the grave site, where a memorial reads, ''Never forget,'' said Annemarie Tanner and the others were also victims of Austria's long unwillingness to confront its complicity in Nazi crimes.

''This funeral must not be the onset of forgetting, which is a passion in this country because 'happy is he who forgets,' '' Mr. Schindel said.

 

CHILDREN DURING THE HOLOCAUST


Two young brothers, seated for a family photograph in the Kovno ghetto. One month later, they were deported to the Majdanek camp. Kovno, Lithuania, February 1944.

— United States Holocaust Memorial Museum




Children were especially vulnerable in the era of the Holocaust. The Nazis advocated killing children of “unwanted” or “dangerous” groups in accordance with their ideological views, either as part of the “racial struggle” or as a measure of preventative security. The Germans and their collaborators killed children both for these ideological reasons and in retaliation for real or alleged partisan attacks.

The Germans and their collaborators killed as many as 1.5 million children, including over a million Jewish children and tens of thousands of Romani (Gypsy) children, German children with physical and mental disabilities living in institutions, Polish children, and children residing in the occupied Soviet Union. The chances for survival for Jewish and some non-Jewish adolescents (13-18 years old) were greater, as they could be deployed at forced labor.

The fate of Jewish and non-Jewish children can be categorized in the following way: 1) children killed when they arrived inkilling centers; 2) children killed immediately after birth or in institutions; 3) children born in ghettos and camps who survived because prisoners hid them; 4) children, usually over age 12, who were used as laborers and as subjects of medical experiments; and 5) those children killed during reprisal operations or so-called anti-partisan operations.

In the ghettos, Jewish children died from starvation and exposure as well as lack of adequate clothing and shelter. The German authorities were indifferent to this mass death because they considered most of the younger ghetto children to be unproductive and hence “useless eaters.” Because children were generally too young to be deployed at forced labor, German authorities generally selected them, along with the elderly, ill, and disabled, for the first deportations to killing centers, or as the first victims led to mass graves to be shot.

Upon arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other killing centers, the camp authorities sent the majority of children directly to the gas chambers. SS and police forces in German-occupied Poland and the occupied Soviet Union shot thousands of children at the edge of mass graves. Sometimes the selection of children to fill the first transports to the killing centers or to provide the first victims of shooting operations resulted from the agonizing and controversial decisions of Jewish council(Judenrat) chairmen. The decision by the Judenrat in Lodz in September 1942 to deport children to the Chelmno killing center was an example of the tragic choices made by adults when faced with German demands. Janusz Korczak, director of an orphanage in the Warsaw ghetto, however, refused to abandon the children under his care when they were selected for deportation. He accompanied them on the transport to theTreblinka killing center and into the gas chambers, sharing their fate.

Non-Jewish children from certain targeted groups were not spared. Examples include Romani (Gypsy) children killed in Auschwitz concentration camp; 5,000 to 7,000 children killed as victims of the “euthanasia” program; children murdered in reprisals, including most of the children of Lidice; and children in villages in the occupied Soviet Union who were killed with their parents.

The German authorities also incarcerated a number of children in concentration camps and transit camps. SS physicians and medical researchers used a number of children, including twins, in concentration camps for medical experiments that often resulted in the deaths of the children. Concentration camp authorities deployed adolescents, particularly Jewish adolescents, at forced labor in the concentration camps, where many died because of conditions. The German authorities held other children under appalling conditions in transit camps, such as the case of Anne Frank and her sister in Bergen-Belsen, and non-Jewish orphaned children whose parents the German military and police units had killed in so-called anti-partisan operations. Some of these orphans were held temporarily in theLublin/Majdanek concentration camp and other detention camps.

In their "search to retrieve 'Aryan blood,'" SS race experts ordered hundreds of children in occupied Poland and the occupied Soviet Union to be kidnapped and transferred to the Reich to be adopted by racially suitable German families. Although the basis for these decisions was "race-scientific," often blond hair, blue eyes, or fair skin was sufficient to merit the "opportunity" to be "Germanized." On the other hand, female Poles and Soviet civilians who had been deported to Germany for forced labor and who had had sexual relations with a German man -- often under duress -- resulting in pregnancy were forced to have abortions or to bear their children under conditions that would ensure the infant's death, if the "race experts" determined that the child would have insufficient German blood.

In spite of their acute vulnerability, many children discovered ways to survive. Children smuggled food and medicines into the ghettos, after smuggling personal possessions to trade for them out of the ghettos. Children in youth movements later participated in underground resistance activities. Many children escaped with parents or other relatives -- and sometimes on their own -- to family camps run by Jewish partisans.

Between 1938 and 1940, the Kindertransport (Children's Transport) was the informal name of a rescue effort which brought thousands of refugee Jewish children (without their parents) to safety in Great Britain from Nazi Germany and German-occupied territories. Some non-Jews hid Jewish children and sometimes, as in the case of Anne Frank, hid other family members as well. In France, almost the entire Protestant population of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, as well as many Catholic priests, nuns, and lay Catholics, hid Jewish children in the town from 1942 to 1944. In Italy and Belgium, many children survived in hiding.

After the surrender of Nazi Germany, ending World War II, refugees and displaced persons searched throughout Europe for missing children. Thousands of orphaned children were indisplaced persons camps. Many surviving Jewish children fled eastern Europe as part of the mass exodus (Brihah) to the western zones of occupied Germany, en route to the Yishuv (the Jewish settlement in Palestine). Through Youth Aliyah (Youth Immigration), thousands migrated to the Yishuv, and then to the state of Israel after its establishment in 1948.

 

CHILDREN'S DIARIES DURING THE HOLOCAUST



The cover of a diary written by Elizabeth Kaufmann while living with the family of Pastor André Trocmé in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France, 1940-1941.

— U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Elizabeth Kaufman Koenig


Background

At least 1.1 million Jewish children were murdered during the Holocaust.

Of the millions of children who suffered persecution at the hands of the Nazis and their Axis partners, only a small number wrote diaries and journals that have survived. In these accounts, the young writers documented their experiences, confided their feelings, and reflected on the trauma they endured during these nightmare years.

The diary of Miriam Wattenberg

The diary of Miriam Wattenberg (“Mary Berg”) was one of the first children's journals which revealed to a wider public the horrors of the Holocaust.

Wattenberg was born in Lódz on October 10, 1924. She began a wartime diary in October 1939, shortly after Poland surrendered to German forces. The Wattenberg family fled to Warsaw, where in November 1940, Miriam, with her parents and younger sister, had to live in the Warsaw ghetto. The Wattenbergs held a privileged position within this confined community because Miriam's mother was a U.S. citizen.

Shortly before the first large deportation of Warsaw Jews toTreblinka in the summer of 1942, German officials detained Miriam, her family, and other Jews bearing foreign passports in the infamous Pawiak Prison. German authorities eventually transferred the family to the Vittel internment camp in France, and allowed them to emigrate to the United States in 1944. Published under the penname “Mary Berg” in February 1945, Miriam Wattenberg's diary was one of the very few eyewitness accounts of the Warsaw ghetto available to readers in the English-speaking world before the end of World War II.

The diary of Anne Frank

Anne Frank, who wrote her diary in hiding with her family and a handful of acquaintances in an attic warehouse in Amsterdam, is the most famous child diarist of the Holocaust era.

Born Annelies Frank in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, on June 12, 1929, she was the second daughter of businessman Otto Frank and his wife Edith. When the Nazis seized power in January 1933, the Franks fled to Amsterdam in order to evade the anti-Jewish measures of the new regime. Anne had received an autograph book for her twelfth birthday and began to use the volume as her diary, keeping a detailed account of events that took place in the “secret annex.” Acting on an anonymous tip, the German Security Police discovered the Franks' hiding place on August 4, 1944, and deported the inhabitants of the annex via Westerbork to Auschwitz.

In late October or early November 1944, Anne and her sister Margot arrived with a transport from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen, where both succumbed to typhus in late February or early March 1945. Following the war, Anne's father, Otto Frank, the sole survivor of the group, returned to Amsterdam in the summer of 1945, where former employee Miep Gies gave him Anne's diary and some further papers which she had found in the annex after the arrests. The diary first appeared in the Netherlands in 1947. Published in English in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl, the wartime journal of Anne Frank has become one of the world's most widely read books, transforming its author into a symbol of the hundreds of thousands of Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust.

Categories of diaries and journals

The prominence of Anne Frank's diary served for a time to eclipse other in situ works written by children during the Holocaust. Nevertheless, as interest in the Holocaust has increased, so has the publication of many more diaries, shedding light on the wartime lives of young people under Nazi oppression.

Young journal writers of this period came from all walks of life. Some child diarists came from poor or peasant families. Others were born to middle-class professionals. Some grew up in wealth and privilege. A handful came from deeply religious families, while others grew up in an assimilated and secular community. A majority of child diarists, however, identified with Jewish tradition and culture regardless of their degree of personal faith.

Child diaries and journals from the Holocaust era can be grouped into three broad categories:

1) those written by children who escaped German-controlled territory and became refugees or partisans;

2) those written by children living in hiding; and

3) those maintained by young people as ghetto residents, as persons living under other restrictions imposed by German authorities, or, more rarely, as concentration camp prisoners.

Refugee diaries

Refugee diaries were often composed in the late 1930s or early 1940s by children of assimilated Jewish parents from Germany, Austria, or the Czech lands. Many of these diaries address the issue of displacement, as all of these child writers had sacrificed the familiarity of home in order to seek refugeamong strangers in distant countries.

Some writers, like Jutta Salzberg (b. 1926 in Hamburg, Germany), Lilly Cohn (b. 1928 in Halberstadt, Germany), Susi Hilsenrath (b. 1929 in Bad Kreuznach, Germany), and Elisabeth Kaufmann (b. 1926 in Vienna, Austria; d. 2003), fled with siblings or parents. Others, such as Klaus Langer (b. 1924 in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia), Peter Feigl (b. 1929 in Berlin), Werner Angress (b.1920 in Berlin, Germany; d. 2010), and Leja Jedwab (b. 1924 in Bialystok, Poland), arrived alone in a strange land.

Child diarists who emigrated by legal means often described the tremendous bureaucratic difficulties involved in securing a safe haven and in obtaining the necessary visas and papers required for emigration. Diarists who fled illegally portray the harrowing journey through dangerous terrain and the constant fear of being apprehended.

Regardless of their means of escape, however, refugee diaries reflect the painful and confusing loss of home, language and culture; the devastating separation from family and friends; and the challenge of adapting to life in an unfamiliar and sometimes alienating world.

Diaries written in hiding

Like Anne Frank, some young people lived in hiding to evade the German authorities: in attics, bunkers, and cellars throughout eastern and western Europe. These writers -- among them Otto Wolf (b. 1927 in Mohelnice, Czechoslovakia) in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia; Mina Glucksman, Clara Kramer (b. 1927 in Zolkiew), and Leo Silberman (b. 1928 in Przemysl) in Poland; and Bertje Bloch-van Rhijn, Edith van Hessen (b. 1925 in The Hague), and Anita Meyer (b. 1929 in The Hague) in the Netherlands -- reflect the difficulties and dangers of their concealment.

These children remained physically concealed for a significant portion, or for the entirety, of their time in hiding. Youngsters often had to remain silent or even motionless in their hiding places for hours at a time. Both children and their protectors lived in constant fear lest a raised voice or a footfall should rouse the suspicion of their neighbors.

Other young people in concealment, like child diarists Moshe Flinker (b. 1926, The Hague; d. 1944, Auschwitz) in Belgium and Peter Feigl in France, hid in plain sight, passing as non-Jews through the dubious protection of false papers and an assumed identity. These children had to adapt swiftly and completely to their new identities and environments. Young people learned to answer to their fictive name, and to avoid language or mannerisms that might betray their origins.

As most Jewish children were hidden by individuals or by religious institutions who embraced faiths different from their own, youngsters learned to recite the prayers and catechism of their “adopted” religion in order to avert the suspicions of both adults and their peers. One false word or gesture was sufficient to endanger both the child and his or her rescuers.

Diaries written in ghettos, camps, or occupied areas

Children and young people residing in ghettos in German-occupied Europe wrote the majority of diaries that have surfaced from the era of the Holocaust. Ghetto diaries often reflect the segregation, isolation, and vulnerability of their authors. They capture the extreme physical suffering and deprivation experienced by their authors and present the complex hardships and adversities that Jews faced in their struggle to survive. In ghetto diaries, the reader finds a firsthand account of the terror and violence of Nazi persecution, but also reads about young people who attempted to transcend their circumstances through study, creativity, and play.

The former sites of many ghettos in German-controlled eastern Europe, particularly in Poland and the former Soviet Union, have yielded many diaries and journals written by children. Renowned among them are the diaries of Dawid Sierakowiak(b. 1924 in Lódz; d. 1943, Lódz ghetto) and two anonymous teenagers from Lódz. Few complete diaries have been found from the Warsaw ghetto, but the fragmentary notes of Janina Lewinson (b. 1926, Warsaw; d. 2010) survived and were later incorporated in her latter-day memoir. Irena Gluck (b.1926- d. c. 1942), Renia Knoll (b. 1927), and Halina Nelken (b. 1924 in Kraków) wrote diaries in the Kraków ghetto, while Dawid Rubinowicz (b. 1927 in Kielce; d. 1942 at Treblinka), Elsa Binder, and Ruthka Leiblich (b.1926; d. c. 1942 in Auschwitz) wrote diaries recording persecution in their communities.

A number of wartime diaries came from ghettos in the Baltic countries: Yitskhok Rudashevski (b. 1927 in Vilnius; d. 1943, Ponary Woods) and Gabik Heller from the Vilne ghetto in Vilnius, Lithuania; Ilya Gerber (b. 1924; d. c. 1943) and Tamara Lazerson (b.1929 in Kaunas) from the Kovno (Kovne) ghetto, in Kaunas, Lithuania; and Gertrude Schneider (b. 1923 in Vienna), a German-Jewish girl incarcerated in the Riga ghetto.

Quite a large number of diaries survived from Theresienstadt in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), among them the writings of siblings Petr Ginz (b. 1928 in Prague; d. c. 1944, Auschwitz) and Eva Ginzová (b.1930 in Prague), Alice Ehrmann (b. 1927 in Prague), Helga Weissovà (b. 1929 in Prague), Helga Pollackovà (b. 1930), Eva Roubickovà (b. 1920), and Paul Weiner (b. 1931 in Prague).

Many diaries were written by children outside the walls of the ghetto. Sarah Fishkin (b. c. 1924; d. c. 1942) for example, kept a diary in occupied Belorussia (today, Belarus) in the town of Rubezhevichi. Riva Goltsman described the first unsettling six months of occupation in Dnepropetrovsk, in Ukraine. Leon Wells (b. 1925 in Stojanov by Lwów-today: L'viv) kept a diary as a young member of a Sonderkommando unit in the Janów Street forced-labor camp in Lvov (Lwów), while Günther Marcuse (b. 1923 in Berlin; d. 1944, Auschwitz) recounted his experiences in a forced-labor camp at Gross-Breesen, once a vocational training farm for Jewish youngsters hoping to emigrate from the Reich. Isabelle Jesion wrote her diary under German occupation in Paris, while Raymonde Nowodworski (b. 1929 in Warsaw; 1951 in Israel) portrayed her life in Centre Vauquelin, a children's home run by the L'Union générale des israélites de France (UGIF).

Each diary reflects a fragment

Diaries by children, teenagers, and young adults during the era of the Holocaust reflect a great variety of personal backgrounds and wartime circumstances. Their authors often addressed themes such as the nature of human suffering, the moral and ethical dimensions of persecution, and the struggle of hope against despair. Each diary reflects a fragment of its author's life, but, taken together, the diaries provide readers with a varied and complex view of young people who lived and died during the Holocaust.

 

ANONYMOUS GIRL DIARIST FROM THE LODZ GHETTO

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“When it's so cold, even my heart is heavy. There is nothing to cook today; we should be receiving three loaves of bread but we will be getting only one bread today. I don't know what to do. I bought rotten and stinking beets from a woman, for 10 marks. We will cook half today and half tomorrow. Does this deserve to be called life?” 
Anonymous girl diarist, March 6, 1942

“Beautiful, sunny day today. When the sun shines, my mood is lighter. How sad life is. When we look at the fence separating us from the rest of the world, our souls, like birds in a cage, yearn to be free. Longing breaks my heart, visions of the past come to me. Will I ever live in better times?”
Anonymous girl diarist, March 7, 1942

In July 1945, a partial diary was found in the area of the ghetto of Lodz, Poland. The diary had no identifiable author. The only clue to her name comes from a note copied into the diary, which reads "Dear Esterka and Minia."

Although the exact identity of the author is unknown, a great deal can be gleaned from her writings. Her family, all of whom were employed in the workshops, including her parents, 17-year old sister, and 16-year-old brother, are mentioned. The fact that the writer does not work perhaps indicates that she is the youngest member of her family. The diary is written in Polish, confirming that the author is either from Lodz or one of the surrounding villages. The entries, dated between late February and March 1942, reveal the author's daily life and focus primarily on the two overriding themes of ghetto life, hunger and deportations.

 

ABRAHAM BERGMAN


Abraham Bergman

Born: Krasnik, Poland
June 15, 1924

Abraham was born to a Jewish family in Krasnik, a town in the Lublin district of Poland. The town had a large Jewish population. Abraham's father was a tailor. When Abraham was 2, his mother died and he was raised by his grandmother. At the age of 7, Abraham started public school.

1933-39: I liked school but it was difficult. The Christian children often yelled at the Jews, "You killed our God." One year, on the day before Christmas break, some kids brought ropes tied to iron weights to school. They waited until after school, so no one could tell the teacher, and then beat up the Jewish kids. Many went home covered in blood. In 1938 I finished public school. The invading Germans reached Krasnik in September 1939.

1940-45: In 1942 I was deported to the Budzyn, Majdanek andAuschwitz camps in Poland, and then Oranienburg andFlossenbürg in Germany. By spring 1945 I was in a group of 500 taken to a farm area in Bavaria. Only 3 SS guards policed 30 of us. When one guard went to the kitchen and the other took men to look for food, I seized my chance. Pushing through the farmhouse gates, I ran into the woods. Shots were fired; I threw myself down. Two escapees fell next to me. We got to the village of Gern just as a U.S. tank appeared.

After the war Abraham lived in Bavaria for three years. He immigrated to Canada in 1949 and then moved to the United States in 1959.

 

PAULA WAJCMAN


Paula Wajcman

Born: Kielce, Poland
1928

Paula was raised in a religious Jewish family in Kielce, a city in the southeast of Poland. Her family lived in a modern two-story apartment complex. Paula's father owned the only trucking company in the district. Her older brother, Herman, attended religious school, while Paula attended public kindergarten in the morning and religious school in the afternoon.

1933-39: Paula's school uniform was a navy blazer with a white blouse and pleated skirt. At age 9, she did the "Krakowiak" dance at school. Boys flirted with her when her overprotective brother was not around. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Paula's father did not wait for German troops to reach Kielce. He loaded one of his trucks, and the family fled east to the town of Tuchin, 30 miles from the Soviet border.

1940-44: Paula's mother, returning to Kielce for supplies, was stranded when the border dividing Poland closed. German forces occupied Tuchin on July 4, 1941. Hearing that Jews nearby had been massacred, the family built a bunker under the wooden floor of the textile factory where they worked. They knew that the pits the Germans and Ukrainians were digging were intended for them. At dawn on September 24, 1942, police moved into the ghetto. People set fires everywhere. In the chaos, Paula and her father ran to the bunker.

The bunker was discovered by the Germans, and Paula and her father were shot. She was 14 years old.

 

JUDITH BEKER


Judith Beker

Born: Jonava, Lithuania
February 7, 1929

Judith was one of three children born to a Yiddish-speaking Jewish family living on a farm near the Lithuanian town of Jonava. Judith's mother had an extensive Jewish education and taught her daughters at home. Her son, Abe, attended a Jewish religious school in Jonava. Judith's father worked in the logging industry.

1933-39: In the fall of 1938, six months after my father died, my mother and I moved to Kovno, the capital of Lithuania. I was 9 years old. Kovno at that time had a large Jewish community--approximately one third of the capital's total population. My mother worked as a seamstress, and we moved to Kovno so that she could find work and so that we could be closer to my older brother and sister who were already working there.

1940-45: The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania in 1940; Germany invaded a year later. In 1943, when I was 14, my family was deported to the Stutthof concentration camp. On arrival we were forced to stand at attention; a heavyset female guard walked by with a whip, saying, "No one leaves alive. You're all doomed." Then we were taken to be examined. A woman in line in front of me had some teeth ripped out and blood flowed from her mouth. When my turn came a guard put her hand inside my crotch, searching for hidden valuables.

Judith and her sister escaped during a forced march out of Stutthof in the winter of 1944. Later, posing as Christians, they escaped to Denmark where they were liberated in 1945.

 

FRANCO CESANA


Franco Cesana

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Born: Bologna, Italy
September 20, 1931

Franco was born to a Jewish family living in the northern Italian city of Bologna. Even though a fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, came to power in Italy in 1922, Bologna's Jews continued to live in safety. Like many Italian Jews, Franco's family was well integrated in Italian society. Franco attended public elementary school.

1933-39: When Franco was 7, Mussolini enforced "racial" laws against the Jews: Franco was expelled from school, and went instead to a Jewish school hastily organized in makeshift quarters in one of Bologna's synagogues. Franco could not understand why he had to leave his friends just because he was Jewish. His father died in 1939, and he moved with his mother and older brother, Lelio, to Turin, where he began religious school.

1940-44: Mussolini was overthrown in July 1943. Two months later, German forces occupied Italy, and gained control of the north, the part where Franco's family and most of Italy's Jews lived. The Italians had been protecting the Jews, but now Germany controlled Italy. The Cesana family went into hiding in the mountains. To evade the Germans, they moved from hut to hut. Lelio joined the Justice and Liberty partisan group. Though only 12, Franco joined as well, proud that so many Jews were fighting in the Italian resistance.

Franco was shot by Germans while on a scouting mission in the mountains. His body was returned to his mother on his 13th birthday. He was Italy's youngest partisan.

 

JAKOB FRENKIEL


Jakob Frenkiel


Born: Gabin, Poland
December 3, 1929

Jakob was one of seven boys in a religious Jewish family. They lived in a town 50 miles west of Warsaw called Gabin, where Jakob's father worked as a cap maker. Gabin had one of Poland's oldest synagogues, built of wood in 1710. Like most of Gabin's Jews, Jakob's family lived close to the synagogue. The family of nine occupied a one-room apartment on the top floor of a three-story building.

1933-39: On September 1, 1939, just a few months before I turned 10, the Germans started a war with Poland. After they reached our town, they doused the synagogue and surrounding homes with gasoline and set them on fire. All the Jewish men were rounded up in the marketplace and held there while our synagogue and homes burned to the ground. Our house had also been doused with gasoline, but the fire didn't reach it.

1940-45: At age 12, I was put in a group of men to be sent to labor camps. More than a year later, we were shipped toAuschwitz. The day after we arrived, my brother Chaim and I were lined up with kids and old people. I asked a prisoner what was going to happen to us. He pointed to the chimneys. "Tomorrow the smoke will be from you." He said if we could get a number tattooed on our arms, we'd be put to work instead of being killed. We sneaked to the latrine, then escaped through a back door and lined up with the men getting tatoos.

After 17 months in Auschwitz, Jakob was force-marched to camps in Germany. Liberated in April 1945 near Austria, he emigrated to the United States at the age of 16.

 

RUTH FREUND REISER


Ruth Freund Reiser

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Born: Prague, Czechoslovakia
April 11, 1926

Ruth was a child of middle-class Jewish parents living inCzechoslovakia's capital, Prague, where her father worked as a bank clerk. As native Czechs, her parents considered themselves as much Czech as Jewish. In 1933 Ruth was in her second year at a public girls' secondary school.

1933-39: The Germans occupied Prague in March 1939 and imposed many restrictions. Jews were no longer allowed to attend school, so my education stopped at age 13. Jews had to surrender many of their possessions such as radios, bicycles, musical instruments, and pets. We weren't allowed to walk in certain streets, or to go to a park or a cinema, or use a bus or a street car. For me, normal life was at an end.

1940-44: I was deported to Auschwitz from the Theresienstadt ghetto in late 1944. Some weeks later I was selected for a labor transport. Wanting to be sure I'd get out of Auschwitz, I managed to stand near the front of the column of 1,000 women. Then a command of "Turn about!" dashed my hopes. I ended up at the back of the line with those to be gassed. Nobody slept that night as, expecting to be gassed, we waited in front of the crematorium. By a twist of fate, the next day I was put on another labor transport.

Ruth was deported to Lenzing, a subcamp of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Liberated by American troops, Ruth returned to Prague. She was the sole survivor of her family.

 

ANDRAS MUHLRAD



Andras Muhlrad

Born: Ujpest, Hungary
July 27, 1930

The second of two children, Andras was born to Jewish parents living in a suburb of Budapest. His father was a pharmacist. The Muhlrads lived in a large house with Andras' grandfather and aunts. As a toddler, Andras often played with his older sister, Eva, and their cousins in the big yard behind their home.

1933-39: Andras was 4 when his family moved to their own apartment. It was 1936 when he began primary school and Hitler had already been in power in Nazi Germany for three years. At night his father would turn on the radio to listen to news of the Third Reich. All this still seemed far away from Hungary. The young boy concentrated on earning good grades. He knew only a few top Jewish students were admitted to the public high school every year.

1940-44: Four months before Andras turned 14, the Germans invaded Hungary. Soon after, the Muhlrads had to leave their apartment and move in with the family of Andras' friend Yannos, whose building had been marked with a Star of David. At first, living together was tolerable, but conditions became increasingly more crowded until there were 25 in the apartment. The residents were allowed to leave the building for errands a few hours a day. Then one day a gendarme took up guard in front of the entrance. The residents spent three days trapped inside fearing what would happen next.

Andras and his family were among the 435,000 Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz in the early summer of 1944. Andras was later moved to a camp in Bavaria, where he perished.

 

INGE AUERBACHER


Inge Auerbacher

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Born: Kippenheim, Germany
December 31, 1934

Inge was the only child of Berthold and Regina Auerbacher, religious Jews living in Kippenheim, a village in southwestern Germany near the Black Forest. Her father was a textile merchant. The family lived in a large house with 17 rooms and had servants to help with the housework.

1933-39: On November 10, 1938, hoodlums threw rocks and broke all the windows of our home. That same day police arrested my father and grandfather. My mother, my grandmother and I managed to hide in a shed until it was quiet. When we came out, the town's Jewish men had been taken to the Dachau concentration camp. My father and grandfather were allowed to return home a few weeks later, but that May my grandfather died of a heart attack.

1940-45: When I was 7, I was deported with my parents to theTheresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. When we arrived, everything was taken from us, except for the clothes we wore and my doll, Marlene. Conditions in the camp were harsh. Potatoes were as valuable as diamonds. I was hungry, scared and sick most of the time. For my eighth birthday, my parents gave me a tiny potato cake with a hint of sugar; for my ninth birthday, an outfit sewn from rags for my doll; and for my tenth birthday, a poem written by my mother.

On May 8, 1945, Inge and her parents were liberated from the Theresienstadt ghetto where they had spent nearly three years. They emigrated to the United States in May 1946.

 

JOSEPH MUSCHA MUELLER



Joseph Muscha Mueller

Born: Bitterfeld, Germany
1932

Joseph was born in Bitterfeld, Germany, to Gypsy parents. For reasons unknown, he was raised in an orphanage for the first one-and-a-half years of his life. At the time of Joseph's birth, some 26,000 Gypsies--members of either the Sinti or Romatribes--lived in Germany. Though most were German citizens, they were often discriminated against by other Germans and subjected to harassment.

1933-39: At age one-and-a-half, Joseph was taken into foster care by a family living in Halle, a city some 20 miles from Bitterfeld. That same year, the Nazi party came to power. When Joseph was in school, he was often made the scapegoat for pranks in the classroom and beaten for "misbehaving." He was also taunted with insults like "bastard" and "mulatto" by classmates who were members of the Hitler Youth movement.

1940-44: When Joseph was 12 he was taken from his classroom by two strangers who said he had "appendicitis" and needed immediate surgery. He protested, but was beaten and forcefully taken into surgery where he was sterilized, a procedure legalized by a Nazi law allowing the forced sterilization of "asocials," a category that included Gypsies. After his recovery, Joseph was to be deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but his foster father managed to have him smuggled from the hospital and hidden.

Joseph survived the remainder of the war by hiding for five months in a garden shed.

 

OLGA GELB


Olga Gelb

Born: Khust, Czechoslovakia
January 26, 1925

Olga was born to religious Jewish parents in a small city in Ruthenia. The country's easternmost province, Ruthenia had been ruled by Hungary until 1918. One of eight children, Olga grew up in a prosperous home in which both Yiddish and Hungarian were spoken. Her father worked as a wholesale leather merchant. Olga attended both public school and a Hebrew girls' school.

1933-39: Under Czech rule I could be religious and not face discrimination at school. My parents were pleased when Ruthenia became a province of Hungary in March 1939; they passed out cigars to the Hungarians. But I was saddened when Hungarians replaced my Czech teachers. To avoid the antisemitism of the Hungarian teachers, I quit school when I was 14. Before a year passed, my father was forced to sell his business to a Hungarian.

1940-44: Deported to Auschwitz in 1944, I was put to work assembling grenades. My girlfriends and I engaged in sabotage by allowing defective hand grenades to go through. Our haughty, beautiful Kapo delighted her SS boyfriend by beating us while he watched. One Sunday while she was lying in the sun near the barracks, we covered her with a blanket, stomped on her head and pounded her with stones. Her murder went unpunished--to the Nazis, she was just a Jew, and since she'd had sexual relations with a German, a criminal.

Olga was transferred to Ravensbrueck in January 1945 and was finally liberated near Berlin by Soviet troops in April 1945. She emigrated to the United States in 1949.

 

ZIGMOND ADLER


Zigmond Adler


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Born: Liege, Belgium
July 18, 1936

Zigmond's parents were Czechoslovakian Jews who had emigrated to Belgium. His mother, Rivka, was a shirtmaker. She had come to Belgium as a young woman to find a steady job, following her older brother, Jermie, who had moved his family to Liege several years earlier. In Liege, Rivka met and married Otto Adler, a businessman. The couple looked forward to raising a family.

1933-39: Zigmond was born to the Adlers in 1936, but his mother died one year later. His father remarried, but the marriage didn't last. Zigmond's father then married for a third time, and soon Zigmond had a new half-sister and a stable family life. As a boy, Zigmond often visited his Uncle Jermie's family, who lived just a few blocks away.

1940-44: Zigmond was 3 when the Germans occupied Belgium. Two years later, the Germans deported his father for forced labor. After that, Zigmond's stepmother left Liege, giving Zigmond to Uncle Jermie and Aunt Chaje. When the Nazis began rounding up Jews in Liege, some of Uncle Jermie's Catholic friends helped them get false papers that hid their Jewish identity and rented them a house in a nearby village. Two years later, early one Sunday morning, the Gestapo came to the house. They suspected Jews were living there.

Zigmond, his aunt and two cousins were sent to the Mecheleninternment camp, and then to Auschwitz, where 7-year-old Zigmond was gassed on May 21, 1944.

 

MANON MARLIAC


Manon Marliac

Born: Paris, France
January 13, 1937

Manon's Christian parents lived in Paris. Roger Marliac, her father, originally from a wealthy family, supported his family by selling produce at small marketplaces. Margarit, her mother (called Maguy by her friends), had a university degree in science. The family lived in a large apartment in a fashionable neighborhood near the Eiffel Tower.

1933-39: Manon, the Marliacs' second child, was born in 1937. She was 2 years old when her father was drafted into the French army as the country mobilized for a possible invasion by Germany. Her mother, left with three children, poor health and no means of support, took a job in an airplane factory.

1940-44: France fell to Germany in June 1940. Manon arrived with a truckload of children in the town of Savigny-en-Veron in late 1942. She had been told that her father was a prisoner and that her mother had been killed in a bombing raid. Sometimes the Germans would search Savigny-en-Veron, and a man whom Manon called "Cousin Tain-Tain" would take her to the woods to hide. Manon would cry, but Cousin Tain-Tain would distract her by having her search for pheasants in the brush.

Manon survived the war but was never reunited with her parents. Some 50 years later she learned that her parents had also survived and that her mother had been a resistance fighter.

 

JOSEPH GANI


Joseph Gani


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Born: Preveza, Greece
1926

Joseph and his family lived in Preveza, a town with a Jewish population of 300 that was located on the Ionian seashore. Joseph's father had a small textile shop. The Ganis were of Romaniot descent, Jews whose ancestors had lived in Greece and the Balkans for more than a thousand years.

1933-39: Joseph attended Greek public school in Preveza. He also received a religious education; the local rabbi would come to the public school for several hours a week to give religious instruction to the Jewish students. Joseph loved sports, especially soccer and baseball.

1940-44: Germany invaded Greece in 1941 and took over the region where Preveza was located in the fall of 1943. The Jews of Preveza were deported to Auschwitz in Poland in March 1944. There, Joseph was assigned to work in Birkenau as part of the Sonderkommando, a work unit that carted corpses to the crematoria. On October 7, 1944, Sonderkommando workers in crematorium IV revolted, disarming SS guards and blowing up the crematorium. Soon, other Sonderkommando workers, including Joseph, joined in the uprising.

Joseph was killed in Birkenau in October 1944. He was 18 years old.

 

BENJAMIN BORNSTEIN


Benjamin Bornstein

Born: Lodz, Poland
April 30, 1930

Benjamin and his younger brother Zigmush were born to Jewish parents in the industrial city of Lodz. Lodz was Poland's second biggest city before the war, and one-third of its inhabitants were Jewish. Benjamin's father, Moshe, owned a candle factory, and his mother, Brona, was a nurse.

1933-39: In 1939, as I began the third grade, the Germans occupied Lodz. Jews were forbidden to ride buses, and were ordered to wear yellow stars. Because the Germans sometimes grabbed Jews off the streets for forced labor, my father wouldn't leave the house. I became our family's "messenger," running errands along with our housekeeper's son. He and I had lived in different worlds before the war--now we were together every day.

1940-44: When the Lodz ghetto was sealed in April 1940, I managed to smuggle all I could from our old house into our new quarters in the ghetto. Then in 1944, when I was 14, our family was rounded up and loaded onto cattle cars on one of the last transports from the ghetto. One of the first in my car, I saw a message scrawled in blood on the wall: "We have arrived inAuschwitz and here they finish us off!" The message was hidden when the car filled up, but now I no longer had any doubts about our destination.

Benjamin was deported to Auschwitz, and later to a forced-labor camp in Hanover, Germany. After the war, at age 16, he emigrated to Palestine with a group of orphans.

 

HENIA RING


Henia Ring

Born: Krzepice, Poland
March 3, 1924

The youngest of two children, Henia was born to a Jewish family in the town of Krzepice. By the early 1930s, the Jewish population of Krzepice comprised more than 40 percent of the town's inhabitants. Henia's father made his living trading cattle in the area. Henia attended a public elementary school.

1933-39: On September 1, 1939, the Germans invaded Poland; a day later, they entered our town. We tried to escape to Warsaw but the German forces quickly overtook us and ordered us back to Krzepice. Several days later the Germans set up a ghetto in Krzepice. We weren't allowed to leave the ghetto on penalty of death. Many people were shot for doing so, but rather than starve, I sometimes sneaked out to search for food.

1940-44: In 1941, hearing that the Germans were seizing people for work details, I escaped to a nearby village. But I missed my parents so I returned. Searching for them, I was arrested and eventually deported to the Mauthausen camp. While digging a ditch in a field I tried to escape into the woods. After two days, SS guards with dogs hunted me down. They beat me ruthlessly, breaking my nose. As I lay on the ground I heard the guards say, "Don't waste a bullet on her, she's dying." Later, I crawled back to the barracks.

Henia was then deported to the Bergen-Belsen camp. She was liberated by British troops on April 15, 1945. After recuperating in Sweden, she emigrated to the United States in 1947.

 

 

PAVOL KOVAC


Pavol Kovac

Born: Trencin, Czechoslovakia
December 6, 1938

As a boy, Pavol lived with his parents in the city of Martin in Slovakia. His father taught at the local agricultural college. The Kovacs, who were non-practicing Jews, were among the few Jewish residents in the town.

1933-39: When I was born, almost nine months before the outbreak of World War II, my parents decided to have "Roman Catholic" listed under the entry for religion in my birth certificate. They took this step to protect me, despite the fact that for generations Jews in our region had enjoyed freedom and equality.

1940-44: For me, a small child, life in Martin was quiet. German soldiers never occupied the town. As a professor of agriculture in the local college, my father was treated as a very important man. He was so highly respected that the entire Kovac family, including my mother's parents, did not have to wear the yellow Star of David like the other Jews. Only in August 1944, when the Germans began fighting Slovak rebels [Slovak National Uprising], did we go into hiding.

Liberated by Soviet troops in April 1945, Pavol's family moved to Bratislava. In 1981 Pavol left communist Czechoslavakia for the United States. He became a citizen in 1986.

 

LILIANA GUZENFITER


Liliana Guzenfiter

Born: Warsaw, Poland
June 16, 1924

An only child of middle-class Jewish parents, Liliana was raised in a mixed neighborhood of Christians and Jews in Poland's capital. Her father ran a jewelry business and was a reserve officer in the Polish army; her mother was a housewife. Liliana dreamed of going to the Sorbonne and becoming Poland's second female district attorney.

1933-39: The worst part of going to school was being harassed and called a "filthy Jew." I petitioned to enter a prestigious Catholic high school where I was exempted from attending Saturday classes, but like other Jewish students, I was seated separately and shoved in the halls and staircases. After a few weeks I quit, and attended a Jewish high school until it was closed by the occupying Germans in September 1939.

1940-44: After the Jews were forced into the ghetto, I became a slave laborer in the Toebbens factory. By April 1943 my family was dead and the ghetto was ablaze and in revolt. I hunkered down in my factory until the Germans came to get us on May 8. In a rage I grabbed a pair of scissors, but before I could do anything a German smashed me in the head with his rifle butt. I lifted my arm to protect myself and he smashed me again and again, knocking me out. When I woke up the next day I was in a dark, crowded cattle car.

Liliana survived as a slave laborer in the Majdanek and Skarzysko-Kamienna camps before being liberated in Czestochowa on January 18, 1945. She emigrated to America in 1950.

 

NORBERT YASHAROFF


Norbert Yasharoff



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Born: Sofia, Bulgaria
February 18, 1930

Norbert was born to a Jewish family in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. His father, a prominent lawyer, was also active in the Jewish community, heading relief efforts for the city's Jewish orphans. Sofia was home to approximately half of Bulgaria's estimated 50,000 Jews during the mid-1930s.

1933-39: On September 1, 1939, while on a family vacation we heard over the radio that war [World War II] had begun. My parents exchanged worried glances; what would happen to us now? Bulgaria had close ties with the Germans and we were frightened. At the newsstand I saw antisemitic headlines appear for the first time in the papers speaking of the Jews' "international conspiracy." I asked my father to help me understand what was happening.

1940-44: In May 1943 my family was deported to Pleven in northern Bulgaria. It wasn't like the deportations we'd heard about; we lived with relatives and I even attended a public school. The Soviet army arrived on September 9, 1944. The Bulgarian partisans descended from the mountains and started rounding up town officials. I happened to be in the street so I helped. While the chief of police was held at gunpoint, I searched his pockets. I was shaking worse than the police chief.

Norbert finished high school in Sofia after the war. In 1948 he emigrated to Israel and later moved to the United States.

 

CHAIM DAVID JEGHER


Chaim David Jegher

Born: Rona de Jos, Romania
September 17, 1927

David was one of six children born to religious Jewish parents in Rona de Jos, a town in northwest Romania. The Jeghers subsisted through a variety of enterprises. Besides farming, they bottled their own wine and brandy and produced dried fruit for distribution in Romania and in parts of Czechoslovakia and Hungary. David's father also ran a local transportation and delivery service.

1933-39: Religious school was from 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. My mother would wait outside the building with some breakfast for me that I'd eat on my way to public school. After public school, my mother would again meet me with a meal that I'd eat walking back to religious school for the afternoon session--I was sometimes there until 9:00 p.m. Then there were my chores, like cleaning the stables and feeding our cows. I never had time for homework.

1940-1945: The Germans occupied our town in March 1944. I was 16. All the town's Jews were forced into a ghetto in Solotvina, Czechoslovakia, a town just over the border. Jews from several towns were crowded into the ghetto; food was scarce. I sneaked out over the fence one day and made it back to Rona de Jos. There, eluding the Gestapo and with the help of some Catholic neighbors, I loaded a wagon with corn and potatoes and drove it back to the ghetto. We unloaded the food, and then I let the horses run off.

David was deported from the Solotvina ghetto to Auschwitz, and then to labor camps in Germany. He was liberated in Germany, and emigrated to the United States in April 1948.

 

ERNEST DOMBY


Ernest Domby

Born: Teplice-Sanov, Czechoslovakia
March 9, 1925

Ernest's father was a professional musician who toured with a Gypsy band and was often away for several months at a time. At home in Teplice-Sanov, a town in the Sudetenland near the Czech-German border, Ernest's mother took care of Ernest and Elizabeth, his younger sister, and the children's invalid grandmother. Ernest's uncles, Rudolf and Viktor, helped the family.

1933-39: In Teplice-Sanov I was expelled from secondary school for being Jewish--my Uncle Viktor then helped to get me into a private Jewish school. A few days before the Germans marched into the Sudetenland in 1938, our family fled to Prague where another one of my uncles lived. We were in Prague for only five months when the Germans occupied the city.

1940-44: In 1942 I was deported with my family to theTheresienstadt ghetto northwest of Prague. From there I was deported to Auschwitz camp. At night our dinner consisted of watery soup. From Auschwitz I was transported to Gross-Rosen and then Friedland labor camp, a subcamp of Gross-Rosen. There I was assigned to perform work for the German war effort.

As the Soviet army was approaching in 1945, the camp guards deserted their posts, and Ernest and some other prisoners fled to the forest. After a few hours hiding from the retreating German troops, they were discovered by Soviet soldiers and received medical treatment and food. Ernest emigrated to the United States with his mother in 1946. The rest of their large family did not survive.

 

EVA MIODELSKA


Eva Miodelska

Born: Lipsko, Poland
October 27, 1926

Eva was the oldest of four children born to a Jewish family in the central Polish town of Lipsko, about 30 miles southeast of Radom. The family lived at #12 Casimirska Street and Eva attended a private Jewish primary school. Eva's father owned a factory that produced shoes made from leather and cork.

1933-39: In the early 1930s I began secondary school in Zwolen, a town about 20 miles to the north. In 1936 my father left for Argentina to settle the estate of his deceased sister. For the two years he was gone, Mother brought my sister and brothers to Zwolen to live with my grandparents. Father returned in 1938, and a year later, on September 1, 1939,Germany invaded Poland, reaching Lipsko in the second week of September.

1940-44: In 1942 I was deported to a labor camp at Skarzysko-Kamienna, where for 12 hours a day I removed lacquered bullet casings from a roaring oven. The heat would make me fall asleep, and production would be halted. I knew that if I wanted to live, I had to transfer to another job. Working in the kitchen was good because you could get extra food. I had a dentist in the camp remove, without anesthesia, a diamond I'd hidden in one of my teeth, and I used the 1,500 zlotys I got for it to "buy" a job in the kitchen.

In 1944 Eva was deported to a labor camp in Leipzig. In April 1945 Eva escaped from a death march and was hidden by a German family. She was liberated by Soviet troops.

 

 

JENO BRIEGER


Jeno Brieger

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Born: Nagyhalasz, Hungary
November 17, 1925

Jeno was born into a large, religious Jewish family in the village of Nagyhalasz in northeastern Hungary. The Briegers spoke Yiddish and Hungarian. After Jeno's mother died, his father remarried and the family moved to the town of Nyiregyhaza where his father owned and operated a hardware store. Nyiregyhaza had a Jewish population of 5,000.

1933-39: Jeno was the oldest son in a household of seven children. Nyiregyhaza was a rural town in which people still used horses and buggies. Jeno attended a religious Jewish grade school. When he was 13, his father sent him to study at a rabbinical school in the town of Munkacevo [Munkacs] in Czechoslovakia. Jeno lived in Munkacevo for four years with a family that his father helped support.

1940-44: When Jeno was 17, he returned to Nyiregyhaza where he trained to be a tailor. After German forces occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944, Jeno's father lost his hardware store. Some 17,000 Jews from Nyiregyhaza and nearby villages were moved into a ghetto in Nyiregyhaza set up by Hungarian officials. In May and June, everyone in the ghetto was deported to Auschwitz. Before he left Nyiregyhaza, Jeno buried his sewing kit under the family's chicken coop in the hope of recovering it someday.

In April 1945 Jeno was liberated by British troops in theBergen-Belsen concentration camp. In 1977 he emigrated from Nyiregyhaza to the United States.

 

ARON TABRYS


Aron Tabrys

Born: Vilna, Poland
March 4, 1924

Aron was the second of six children born to Jewish parents in Vilna, a city known as a center of Jewish cultural life. He was called Arke by his friends and family. Aron's father supported his large family on the meager income of a chimney sweep.

1933-39: As a child I attended a Jewish day school, and then went on to attend a public secondary school. When I was 14 my father had an accident which rendered him blind, and I had to start working full-time to support the family. I belonged to an underground communist group because I saw communism as a way of combatting the antisemitism in Poland. Our life in Vilna was disrupted in fall 1939 when the Soviets occupied the city.

1940-45: The Germans occupied Vilna in June 1941. On September 6 that year I was forced into the Vilna ghetto for two years. Two weeks before the ghetto was liquidated in 1943, I was deported to a labor camp in Estonia. Over the next year I was transferred to six labor camps, and then for 9 months to the Dautmergen concentration camp in Bavaria. We had 1,000 people in a barn-like barracks. In the middle of the room was a pot-bellied stove where we'd gather in the evening so that the lice which infested our bodies would die from the heat.

Aron survived life in the camps. He weighed 90 pounds when he was liberated in May 1945 on a transport from the Dachau concentration camp to the Alps. He emigrated to America in 1949.

MARIA NEMETH


Maria Nemeth

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Born: Szentes, Hungary
December 14, 1932

Maria's parents lived in Szentes, a town in southeastern Hungary, located 30 miles from the city of Szeged. Her mother,Barbara, was born in the neighboring town of Hodmezovasarhely, but moved to Szentes when she married. Maria's father was a dentist.

1933-39: Maria was born in 1932. In 1937 her mother took in a young Austrian woman who lived with the family and helped Maria learn German.

1940-44: In March 1944 German troops occupied Hungary. Members of the Hungarian fascist party, Arrow Cross, confiscated Maria's grandparents' store. She and her parents, grandparents, uncle and aunt and their families were among thousands of Jews from towns around Szeged who were deported to a makeshift ghetto in Szeged's Rokus sports field and brickyards. The Nemeths were deported from Szeged toAustria, via the Strasshof concentration camp, to a labor camp in the small farming village of Goestling an der Ybbs.

Maria and her family were among 80 Jews in the camp who were machine-gunned to death by retreating SS soldiers just days before U.S. forces reached the area. Maria was 13.

 

SELMA SCHWARZWALD AND HER BEAR, "REFUGEE"


At some point after the war, Sophie received this small stuffed bear (about three inches high) as a present from her mother. She named it “Refugee,” just like she and her mother were refugees of the war.

— USHMM, courtesy of Sophie Turner-Zaretsky (Selma Schwarzwald)



Sophie was born Selma
How can life change so terribly?

Sophie Turner-Zaretsky was born Selma Schwarzwald in Lvov (Lwow, L'viv), Poland, on September 2, 1937. Her father, Daniel, was a successful businessman who exported timber and her mother, Laura, had studied economics.

On June 30, 1941 everything began to change for Sophie's family--the Germans entered Lvov and the repression and killing of Jews began immediately. Daniel had a job as a guard and his work permit gave the family temporary safety, but in November the Germans started to move all Jews into a ghetto.

Sophie's entire family was forced into the ghetto: her grandparents Josef and MinaLitwak, her aunts Adela and Fryda, and her uncle Emanuel. The family watched as thousands of Jews were murdered or sent for forced labor to the nearby Janowskacamp and, later, in 1942, were deported from the ghetto to the Belzecextermination camp. Every day the family grew more and more scared. In August 1942 Sophie's grandparents were rounded up and deported to Belzec where they later died.

Hiding and escape
How do you stay alive and escape?

Daniel tried to buy false documents for Laura and Sophie. The SS were getting close and roundups of Jews for deportation were happening frequently so Laura and Sophie went into hiding for a few days. The hiding place was a platform under the roof of an adjacent house. Laura had to throw Sophie across an airshaft to someone who would catch her on the other side and then Laura would jump across from one window to the next.

Daniel finally managed to get false papers for his wife and daughter and insisted they make plans to leave. On September 1, 1942, he went to the Jewish Council for help in finding a new place to live but that same day the council was blamed for the death of a German soldier. Daniel tried to escape as the Germans surrounded the building but he was shot and killed. To this day Sophie remembers the night her father didn't come home. Five days after Daniel was killed Laura and Sophie escaped from the ghetto on a train and made it to Krakow.

Sophie and her mother make a new life
What is it like to become a different person?

Sophie was five years old when she and her mother made a new life for themselves in the autumn of 1942. Sophie's mother constantly changed their address in the city, afraid the SS would catch up with them. When she looked for work Laura had to leave Sophie with an old woman who made Sophie pick up cigarette stubs in the street.

Laura decided to act on the advice of her old Christian landlady in Lvov to find a job in a resort town where it would be easier to assume new identities and where the local population was used to seeing strangers. Laura had a Christian bible and prayer book the landlady gave her. Laura placed an ad for a job outside Krakow (Cracow) and in a strange twist of fate an officer in the SS answered her ad and helped save Sophie and her mother. They moved again and Laura became a translator and housekeeper for the officer in the town of Busko Zdroj.

Sophie--now Zofia Tymejko--was confused about what to tell people. Her mother drilled it in to her that her father was taken by the Russians. Sophie had blonde hair and light eyes so few suspected she might be Jewish.

Joined by Adela, Laura's sister (Sophie's maternal aunt) in December 1944, the family remained together until their liberation in the spring of 1945. While in hiding and immediately following liberation, Sophie gradually forgot that she was Jewish and adopted the Catholic faith and celebrated her first communion shortly after liberation in 1945.

The teddy bear
Who will comfort you?

At some point after the war, Sophie received a small stuffed bear as a birthday or Christmas present from her mother. The bear had moving arms and legs and was about three inches high. Sophie's aunt Adela crocheted a coat for the bear. Sophie thought the honey brown bear with eyes that were askew looked “a little down and out.” She later named it “Refugee,” just like she and her mother were refugees of the war. The little bear would be by her side for decades.

Sophie learns her real identity
How do you start over again?

In 1946 Laura contacted her aunt in London and her uncle in New York who then helped Laura and Sophie leave Poland. When they arrived in London in 1948, Laura told Sophie she was Jewish. Sophie could not believe it and suffered a breakdown. For years she had learned to hate Jews.

Despite the shock, Sophie learned to listen, observe, and fit in. She didn't know the local customs or the language but she applied herself academically, even in Hebrew school. Sophie's mother changed their last name to Turner and Sophie attended college and later medical school. In 1963 she went to stay with relatives in the United States and complete her medical residency. Sophie slowly became more comfortable with being Jewish.

Sophie wanted to marry an American Jew and in 1970 she married David Zaretsky. They had two sons. Sophie Turner-Zaretsky is still a practicing radiation oncologist in New York.

Saving the bear
How do you remember?

For over 50 years Sophie held on to the bear that she had received as a little girl. It was with her when she was Zofia, a Catholic in Poland; it was with her when she grew up in England; and it was with her when she moved to the United States to begin a new life yet again. The bear was a silent witness to the miracle of Sophie's rescue, rebirth, and success.

 

Sabina Szwarc

"I had false ID and wore a cross."       Sabina Szwarc
Born 1923
Warsaw, Poland


Sabina grew up in a Jewish family in Piotrkow Trybunalski, a small industrial city southeast of Warsaw. Her family lived in a non-Jewish neighborhood. Her father was a businessman and her mother was a teacher. Both Yiddish and Polish were spoken in their home. In 1929 Sabina began public school, and later went on to study at a Jewish secondary school.

1933-39: On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Four days later, German troops streamed into our city. After one month of occupation, my father had to give up his business, I had to give up school, and our family of five was forced into a ghetto that had been set up by the Germans. We shared an apartment with another family. From blocks away we could hear the sounds of German patrols and heavy German boots on the cobblestones.

1940-44: In 1942, as the ghetto was being liquidated, my Polish girlfriends Danuta and Maria got my sister and me false Polish ID cards. On the eve of the final roundup, we escaped and hid in their home. Two weeks later my sister and I took labor assignments in Germany where nobody knew us. I was a maid in a hotel for German officers. One of them asked me whether there were Jews in my family. He said that he was an anthropologist and that my ears and profile seemed Jewish. I looked offended and continued to work.

Sabina was liberated in Regensburg, Germany, by American troops on April 27, 1945. She emigrated to the United States in 1950 and pursued a career as an ophthalmologist.

   

 

Gitla Zoberman

Gitla Zoberman
Born 1917
Sandomierz, Poland


Gitla was the second-youngest of four girls born to observant Jewish parents. They made their home in Sandomierz, a predominantly Catholic town on the Vistula River. Her father owned a small bookstore across from the town hall, selling school texts and novels. Gitla attended public school before enrolling in a Catholic girls' high school. In the winter, Gitla enjoyed skating on the Vistula.

1933-39: In 1937 I moved to Katowice, a large town on the Polish-German border. There, I enrolled in a business college and lived with my sister, Hana, who worked as a pharmacist. In August 1939 we heard that the Germans would invade Poland. Hana and I decided to return to Sandomierz, where we thought we would be safer. On September 1, 1939, the Germans invaded Poland. They occupied Sandomierz two weeks later.

1940-44: After one year in the Pionki labor camp, my father and I escaped to Warsaw. My sister Irene, whose Aryan features and good Polish let her pass as a Christian, arranged our way to the city, aided by a Polish man she'd hired. In Warsaw, I stayed locked in Irene's apartment while she worked. After we dyed my dark hair blonde, I got a job as a dishwasher. I had false ID and wore a cross. My disguise failed. A boy on the streetcar pointed at me and yelled "Kike," an insult for Jews. I never left the apartment again.

Gitla was deported to Stutthof and Gross-Rosen camps, before being liberated by Soviet forces in January 1945. Her sisters, mother and father all survived.

   

Barbara Ledermann Rodbell

Barbara Ledermann Rodbell
Born 1925
Berlin, Germany



Describes false papers and moving people to hiding places

I went into her ballet school and took classes, and I was then asked to join the company. And I asked if, the underground, was it all right? Oh yes, because you got fantastic papers when you went there, into this company, uh, because the company traveled, you got papers to be out after curfew. And that way I could help shift people from one hiding place to another, or, like American soldiers, shot, shot down people, other people who were underground. Uh, and let me tell you how this was done. Um, there were no more taxis, there were very few cars because there was no gasoline, uh, for them to use. So what they had was people on bicycles pulling--you know, like in Third World countries--they would pull little wagons behind them. Some of them were covered, so that when it rained, which it does a lot in Holland, you know, people wouldn't get wet, and others were open, all sorts of various ways of transportation. And the few people that I moved were moved in the middle of the night, you know, I mean, after curfew, with them being the bench, and me sitting, you know, sitting like this, bent over, and me sitting on top, on, sitting on their backs, with a rather short skirt, and, uh, my very good papers, with makeup on still from the ballet. And when the Germans stuck their, or when Dutch police stuck their head in there and saying, "What is this? Curfew is on." You could, I would have a smile and papers. And I shifted a lot of people that way.    

Leah Hammerstein Silverstein

 

Leah Hammerstein Silverstein
Born 1924
Praga, Poland



Describes working under a false non-Jewish identity in a German hospital in Krakow

At, at another time I was sitting in front of a big basket with vegetables, cleaning it, and the sun rays came on my head and one of the girls said, "Look, her hair is reddish like a Jewess." And everybody laughed, and I laughed most hilariously, you know, but inside, you know, the fear was gnawing on my insides, you know. At another time the kitchen chef, uh, grabbed me and put my head on the table. He was preparing the, uh, the sausage for the evening supper. And he put this long knife to my neck and said, "You see, if you were Jewish, I would cut off your head." Big laughter in the room, and I laughed most hilariously, of course. But you know what it does to a psyche of a young girl in her formative years? Can you imagine? With nobody to con...console, cons...console you, with nobody to tell you it's okay, it'll be better, hold on. Total isolation, total loneliness. It's a terrible feeling. You know, you are among people and you are like on an island all alone. There is nobody you can go to ask for help. You can nobody ask for advice. You had to make life-threatening decisions all by yourself in a very short time, and you never knew whether your decision will be beneficial to you or detrimental to your existence.It was like playing Russian roulette with your life. And it was not only one incident. It was this way from the moment I came on the Aryan side.    

Raszka (Roza) Galek Brunswic

Raszka (Roza) Galek Brunswic
Born 1920
Sochocin, Poland



Describes her decision, while posing as a Polish Catholic, to work on a farm in Germany

And they said to me, "You have a choice to go either on a farm, to an ammunition...uh...uh...fabrik [factory], or to hotels. I thought for myself to be...to be safe, would be the best thing to go on a farm. Because I knew it'll be a lot [of] hard work but I won't meet so many Poles. I was afraid to meet Poles. That was the idea. I still had my false papers as a Christian girl.Sure. As Maria Kowalcik. Maria Jadwiga Kowalcik. The middle name was Jadwiga. As such I came to Germany, as Maria Kowalcik. And I thought for my own sake, I probably would be safer to be away from everybody. And I thought on a farm, Poles would probably not likely go to a farm. They might want to go to a hotel, to some offices, to some...any other place, but I thought for myself, I'd rather go to a farm. First of all, I was emaciated. I was...I was about eighty, ninety pounds, skin and bone, when I came to Germany. Skin and bone. And...um...as such I came to Germany. They told me where they are going to bring me, to Krummhardt, near Esslingen. It is a small farm, that the man that owns the farm is paralyzed, but he has a son-in-law by the name of Karl Beck, and a daughter Louise. She was just married to this Mr. Beck. And I was brought to Krummhardt. That's how I came to Germany. Okay. I was a city girl. I never knew what means...what work means because at home we were wealthy. We had maids, and...we had everything. I never even knew how to boil a glass of water. Very spoiled...very...really very well taken care of, and I had no idea what a farm means...work on a farm. Anyway, but I adapted and adjusted very well. I knew that that's the way it is. That's the way it's going to be. I better make the best of it.      

Bertha Adler

Bertha Adler
Born 1928
Selo-Solotvina, Czechoslovakia


Bertha was the second of three daughters born to Yiddish-speaking Jewish parents in a village in Czechoslovakia's easternmost province. Soon after Bertha was born, her parents moved the family to Liege, an industrial, largely Catholic city in Belgium that had many immigrants from eastern Europe.

1933-39: Bertha's parents sent her to a local elementary school, where most of her friends were Catholic. At school, Bertha spoke French. At home, she spoke Yiddish. Sometimes her parents spoke Hungarian to each other, a language they had learned while growing up. Bertha's mother, who was religious, made sure that Bertha also studied Hebrew.

1940-44: Bertha was 11 when the Germans occupied Liege. Two years later, the Adlers, along with all the Jews, were ordered to register and Bertha and her sisters were forced out of school. Some Catholic friends helped the Adlers obtain false papers and rented them a house in a nearby village. There, Bertha's father fell ill one Friday and went to the hospital. Bertha promised to visit him on Sunday to bring him shaving cream. That Sunday, the family was awakened at 5 a.m. by the Gestapo. They had been discovered.

Fifteen-year-old Bertha was deported to Auschwitz on May 19, 1944. She was gassed there two days later.

Liane Reif

Liane Reif
Born 1934
Vienna, Austria


Liane's Polish-born Jewish parents were married in Vienna, where they lived in a 14-room apartment in a middle-class neighborhood near the Danube River. Liane's father, a dentist, had his office in their home.

1933-39: After Germany annexed Austria in 1938, my father was found dead, a probable suicide. In May 1939, four months before war broke out, my mother booked passage on the St. Louis, a ship bound for Cuba. But Cuban authorities turned the ship back. Along with some other refugees from the ship, my mother and brother and I disembarked in the French city of Boulogne, and were then sent south to Loudun.

1940-44: The Germans invaded France. We soon boarded a train for Limoges, which had not been taken by the Germans. At first we were housed in a stadium used for circus performances, where we slept on the rows of stone bleachers. We had hardly any food; during the course of a day my meals consisted of a little milk, boiled brown lentils, and day-old bread. Occasionally there were potatoes, or an egg. On my sixth birthday my mother brought me the nicest present I'd ever had--a peach and some dried fruit.

In 1941 the Reifs settled in New York, after relatives helped them arrange passage to the United States via Portugal. Liane later earned a doctorate in chemistry.

Lore Heumann

Lore Heumann
Born 1931
Hellenthal, Germany


The younger of two girls, Lore was born to Jewish parents in a village close to the Belgian border. The Heumanns lived above their general store. Across the street lived Lore's grandfather, who kept horses and cows in his large barn. When Lore was a year old, her family moved to the city of Lippstadt. The Lippe River flowed beyond the large garden in back of their house.

1933-39: When Lore was 6, her family moved to the nearby city of Bielefeld, where she entered public school. A year later, she and her older sister, Margot, were expelled from school. One day they were suddenly kicked out of class. Not understanding why, they stood outside, crying. Then they walked home. After this, their parents sent them to a Jewish school where they had teachers who also had been kicked out of the schools by the Nazis.

1940-44: A few months after Lore turned 11, she was deported with her family to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. When the Heumanns arrived at the station, they were met by Lore's thin and sickly-looking grandmother, who had been deported there some six months earlier. She told them that Lore's grandfather had died a few weeks earlier from starvation. In the ghetto Lore attended the classes clandestinely organized by Jewish teachers, but she found it hard to concentrate because she was almost always hungry.

Thirteen-year-old Lore was deported with her family to Auschwitz in May 1944. She and her parents are believed to have perished there. Her sister, Margot, survived the war.

Shulamit Perlmutter (Charlene Schiff)

Shulamit Perlmutter (Charlene Schiff)
Born 1929
Horochow, Poland


Shulamit, known as Musia, was the youngest of two daughters born to a Jewish family in the town of Horochow, 50 miles northeast of Lvov. Her father was a philosophy professor who taught at the university in Lvov, and both of her parents were civic leaders in Horochow. Shulamit began her education with private tutors at the age of 4.

1933-39: In September 1939 Germany invaded Poland, and three weeks later the Soviet Union occupied eastern Poland, where our town was located. Hordes of refugees fleeing the Germans streamed through our town. Soviet rule didn't change our lives very much. We remained in our home and Father continued to teach in Lvov. The most important change for me was at school; we were now taught in Russian.

1940-45: In 1941 the Germans invaded the USSR and set up a ghetto in Horochow. In 1942, with rumors that the ghetto was about to be destroyed, Mother and I fled. We had just hidden in the underbrush at the river's edge when we heard shots. We hid, submerged in the water, all night as machine guns blazed in the ghetto. By morning others were hiding in the brush and I heard a Ukrainian guard scream, "I see you there Jews; come out!" Most obeyed, but we hid in the water for several more days as the gunfire continued. Sometimes we would doze; once I woke to find Mother had vanished.

Shulamit never saw her mother again and never found out what happened to her. Shulamit spent the rest of the war living in the forests near Horochow. She is the only survivor of her family.

   

ISRAEL UNIKOWSKI

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“From this day every German may shoot as many Jews as he wants. If anybody came near the wire fence, as far as his rifle could reach, he could shoot him. Hundreds and hundreds of people perished in the Ghetto this way.” 
Israel Unikowski, age 13

Israel Unikowski was born in Kalish, Poland, in 1928. His mother died when he was just three years old. His father fled Poland in 1935. This left Israel and his older brother living in separate orphanages.

After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the staff of Israel's orphanage fled leaving 32 boys under the care of one adult. The group rented a cart and began the journey to Lodz.

Once the group reached Lodz, the Jewish community and Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski took over the care of the boys. In 1940, the orphans were transferred with the rest of the Jews ofLodz to the ghetto, which was later sealed. In the ghetto, Israel was reunited with his brother who had also made his way to Lodz. Israel quickly obtained a job in a tailoring workshop while living in the orphanage.

Following the Gehsperre Aktion in the Lodz ghetto, he and his brother lived together in a rented room and Israel began working in a toymaking workshop. His brother died in 1943 after becoming ill, leaving Israel alone. In 1944, Israel was deported to Birkenau where he was put a on a labor detail. The detail was eventually marched to Buchenwald where Israel was liberated.

JUTTA SZMIRGELD


Jutta Szmirgeld (Jutta, right, and her brother, left)

— USHMM Collection, Gift of Henryk Zvi and Jutta Bergman


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“The yellow badge was a kind of stamp. A stamp that distinguished me from the rest of the population. Anyone could approach me, tell me, do to me whatever they wanted.”
Jutta Szmirgeld, age 12

“It was forbidden to gather more than three or five people. It was punishable by death, but we were sometimes even fifteen teenagers, and we were then in Palestine for this hour with the organization. This was the land of Israel; we were not in the ghetto. I never had such marvelous hours. I ran to my organization and there I forgot. I forgot my mother. I forgot my brother. It's not nice, but I really forgot. The life was different there. There I saw the blue sky with stars. The sky of the land of Israel.”
Jutta Szmirgeld, age 14

“I went home. I got closer and then I saw my brother in front of the house. I approached my brother and he said, 'Jutta, they took Grandma, they took Mom, but Mother said that you should not cry, that she will return.' I am nothing without my mother. What could I do to save my mother?”
Jutta Szmirgeld, age 15

Jutta Szmirgeld (later Bergman) was born in Breslau, Germany, on July 8, 1927, to Benjamin and Hela Hendla Szmirgeld. Her younger brother Simon was born in 1929.

In 1935, Jutta's family was forced to leave Germany. They moved to Lodz, Poland. Jutta's father, Benjamin Szmirgeld, died before the war began. In May 1940, Jutta together with her mother, brother, and maternal grandmother, Sara Ryfka Lieberman, were imprisoned in the Lodz ghetto. Jutta was able to briefly continue her schooling in the ghetto high school until the schools were closed in the fall of 1941.

At the age of 15 Jutta worked in a number of the ghetto workshops -- sewing, and making saddles and straw shoes. Jutta's family was not well connected and consequently did not have the wherewithal to receive more than the basic minimal food rations. However, despite impoverishment, cold, and malnourishment, Jutta managed to keep her spirits up because of her active membership in the Zionist youth movement, Ha'Noar Ha'Tzioni. There she befriended one of the group's leaders, Henryk Bergman.

In September 1942, the Germans ordered the deportation of the children, the elderly, and infirm. In a brutal Aktion which became known as the Gehsperre, Jutta, her mother, and brother had to stand at attention while her grandmother was taken away. Sara Ryfka Lieberman was among those deported to Chelmno and murdered. Hela Szmirgeld was designated for deportation to Chelmno as well, but miraculously she was released and returned to her children.

In August 1944, Jutta was deported to Auschwitz together with her mother and brother. Her mother, who was already quite weak, and her brother were murdered on arrival. Jutta survived Auschwitz and was later transferred to Bergen-Belsen and later to a slave labor camp.

After liberation, Jutta returned to Lodz to search for family. Youth movement leader Henryk Bergman had also been deported to Auschwitz in August 1944 together with his mother and sister who were killed on arrival. Henryk also returned to Lodz, where he and Jutta reunited. Together they went to Germany where they married. They then attempted to immigrate to Palestine. The British intercepted their ship and sent them to an internment camp in Cyprus.

Henryk and Jutta eventually managed to reach Palestine in March 1948. They have two children (Ruti and Ben), and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Henryk serves as the head of the Association of Jews from Lodz in Israel.

 

Nazi 'euthanasia' children buried

Nazi 'euthanasia' children buried More than 800 children died at the Spiegelgrund     By Michael Leidig in Vienna

A simple ceremony was staged in private in Vienna last week for hundreds of child victims of the Nazis.

More than 800 children, mainly mentally and physically disabled, perished in the Spiegelgrund Children's Hospital in Vienna during World War II.

It was one of 30 so-called "euthanasia" centres in the Third Reich where 75,000 people across Europe, including 5,000 children deemed racially, mentally or physically unfit, were systematically murdered by doctors


who daily betrayed their Hippocratic oath.

The urns were laid to rest at a private service The deaths of hundreds of Spiegelgrund children were accelerated through lack of food and neglect.

The drugs they received sometimes helped to bring on fatal pneumonia - which could then be registered as "death from natural causes".

Instead of being buried, many of the body parts were kept and stored for decades in formaldehyde in dusty glass jars in the cellar of the hospital in the private archive of one of the doctors accused of carrying out the killings, the Nazi doctor Heinrich Gross.

He had joined the Nazi Party in 1939. After the war he went on the run, meaning he did not go on trial until the 1950s.

He was convicted of being an accessory to manslaughter, but the verdict which was overturned on appeal.

Prosecution unlikely

In the climate of reconciliation that existed in post-War Austria, the trial was dropped and not raised again until 1999.

Dr Gross was then charged again, but eventually ruled too old and mentally unstable to stand trial.


Her short life ended painfully - she was starved, poisoned... she was killed
Waltraud Haeupl, sister of victim Austrian Green MP Karl Oellinger said: "They are just waiting for him to die. I do not believe he is as sick as he pretends, and if anyone knows how to pull the wool over the eyes of the court psychiatrist, it's a man like Dr Gross who was once a court psychiatrist himself."

Dr Gross had published several scientific papers based on the findings of his research.

On the basis of this work as a neurologist he became a highly-paid court psychiatric expert and worked for the law courts until 1997.

With a prosecution increasingly unlikely to go ahead, the Vienna Public Prosecutors Office released the body parts confiscated from Dr Gross's archive at Spiegelgrund for burial by the families.

As part of the investigation the remains were examined by forensic scientists at Innsbruck University.

They discovered traces of the sleeping tablets Luminal and Veronal in the tissue, indicating that some children had died of unnatural causes.

Official burial

Relatives had asked for the burial to take place out of the media spotlight, and so the urns containing the remains of those deemed "life unworthy of life" were laid to rest in a private service held in secret at the Vienna Central Cemetery last week.

The children were deemed "life unworthy of life" It was a stark contrast with the scenes expected next weekend when thousands of people, including the Austrian President Thomas Klestil and the Vienna city mayor Michael Haeupl, will attend a memorial service to officially lay the youngsters to rest.

Two of the 600 urns have been kept back, and in front of the media spotlight will be placed with the others in the grave reserved for victims of National Socialism.

At this service the route to the grave will be lined with children holding photos of the child victims.

Eight stone plaques will bear the names of the deceased and a taped recording will continuously announce their names and ages.

'Idiocy'

"It was especially important for us to take into account the needs and wishes of the survivors of the Spiegelgrund Hospital and the relatives of the victims," said Vienna city councillor responsible for the burial, Elisabeth Pittermann.

Waltraud Haeupl's younger sister Anne-Marie died when she was four in Spiegelgrund in 1942 from "pneumonia".

She had suffered from rickets from birth and was sent to the hospital after being described as "in need of care".

Mrs Haeupl said: "The diagnosis at Spiegelgrund was "idiocy". I can remember her really well. She was so sweet, she looked like a doll. Her short life ended painfully. She was starved, poisoned. She was killed."



Gruesome legacy of Dr Gros




The Spiegelgrund was the children's section of the Steinhof hospital 

By BBC Legal Affairs Correspondent John Silverman

Austria is preparing to hold its first Nazi war crimes trial for a quarter of a century.


Jon Silverman delves into the Spiegelgrund's maccabre past An 83-year-old doctor, Heinrich Gross, has been charged with nine counts of murdering children at a psychiatric hospital in Vienna in 1944.


Dr Heinnrich Gross denies involvement in the deaths Seven hundred children were murdered there during the war years as part of the Nazi euthanasia programme, intended to eliminate anyone considered to be physically or mentally flawed.

After the war, Dr Gross became Austria's most celebrated forensic psychiatrist and did research on the brains of some of the children he is alleged to have murdered.

Fight against injustice

One of the many people fighting to see Dr Gross brought to justice is Waltraud Haupl. Her sister, Ann-Marie, was subjected to a "living hell" and died at Dr Gross's hands in the Spiegelgrund clinic in Vienna.

"It was cold and without love and nobody took care of her and the doctors did what they wanted to do to her," Ms Haupl said.

Ann-Marie was admitted in 1941 suffering from rickets. But when the doctors discovered that a distant relative had a brain disorder, she became a victim of the clinic's euthanasia programme.


The brains of hundreds of children still remain Ms Haupl has her sister's medical notes, signed by Dr Gross. They detail the starvation diet of coffee and bread - at first twice, then only once a day - which pushed her sister inexorably towards death, weighing only nine kilos.

The Spiegelgrund clinic is now part of a huge psychiatric hospital. But though its name has gone, it can not escape its past.

In its pathological department, row upon row of glass jars containing the brains of children bear witness to the clinic's grisly past.

On the wall, there is a plaque in memory of the children of Vienna who were taken there and killed.

After the war, Dr Gross carried out research using some of the brains of children he is alleged to have killed.

Even in 1945, what went on at the clinic was well known - indeed, the director, Emst Illing, was hanged as a war criminal.

But Dr Gross faced only one manslaughter charge and was released after a few months - his conviction ruled unsound.

He went on to become an eminent neurobiologist and was employed by the highest courts in the land to give medical and psychiatric testimony.

Continued denial

Despite continuing allegations against him, he maintained his innocence. The last time he spoke publicly, two years ago, he claimed to have no idea how many children had died at Spiegelgrund.


Alois Katifinan as the little boy who survived "Maybe 300, maybe more. Yes, I knew about it but I wasn't involved and to have stood openly against it in those days was an automatic death sentence by the Nazis," he said.

In fact, the number of child deaths was over 700. But Dr Gross continued to enjoy his eminent status, until two years ago.

It was then that Dr Gross's medical notes for a one-month period in the summer of 1944 were found in an archive in Berlin - a time when he said he had left the hospital and was in the army.

Austria's leading anti-Nazi research centre had been pressing for a new criminal case against Gross for years. It now says the surprise find proves Dr Gross to be a liar.

Alois Kaufmann, who was sent to the Speigelgrund in 1943 as a child delinquent and treated with appalling brutality, says Dr Gross must stand trial.

"Did he ask the children about their screams and shouts before they were killed? Did he feel sorry for the 10-day-old boy whose stomach he cut open to give him injections? He was a Nazi through and through and should live in prison for the rest of his days," he said.

Mr Kaufmann has received anti-Semitic phone calls and death threats since it emerged that he would be a witness at the trial of Dr Gross.

Given Austria's ambivalent attitude towards its Nazi past, this may not come as a surprise.

And even the world's most eminent Nazi hunters are reported to say that, despite the new evidence on Dr Gross, a conviction is by no means certain.

The Murdered Children of Lidice.

Lidice (GermanLiditz) is a village in the Czech Republic just northwest of Prague. It is built on the site of a previous village of the same name which, as part of the Nazi-createdProtectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, was, on orders directly from Heinrich Himmler, completely destroyed by German forces in reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in the late spring of 1942. On June 10, 1942, all 192 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered on the spot by the Germans in a much publicised atrocity. The rest of the population were sent to Nazi concentration camps where many women and nearly all the children were killed.

History

The village is first mentioned in writing in 1318. After the industrialization of the area, many of its people worked in mines and factories in the neighboring cities of Kladno and Slaný.

Heydrich's assassination Main article: Operation Anthropoid

In 1942, Reinhard Heydrich was the deputy Reichsprotektor of the Nazi German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. This area of the former Czechoslovakia had been occupied by Germany since 1939.

Heydrich's car at the scene of the assassination.

On the morning of May 27, 1942, Heydrich was being driven from his country villa at Panenské B?ežanyto his office at Prague Castle. When he reached the Holešovice area ofPrague, his car was attacked by the Czech and Slovak soldiers (on behalf of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile), Jozef Gab?ík and Jan Kubiš. These men, who had been part of a team trained in Great Britain, had parachuted into Bohemia in December 1941 as part of Operation Anthropoid. After Gab?ík's Sten gun failed, Kubiš threw a bomb at Heydrich's car. Both men managed to escape the scene of the assassination. On June 4, Heydrich died in Bulovka hospital in Prague from septicaemia caused by pieces of upholstery entering his body when the bomb exploded. Adolf Hitler suggested Kurt Daluege, Heydrich's successor, to `wade through blood` to find Heydrich's killers.[citation needed] The Germans began a sweeping and bloody retaliation campaign targeting the entire Czech population.

The mourning speeches at Heydrich's funeral in Berlin were not yet over, when on June 9 the decision was made to "make up for his death".Karl Hermann Frank, Secretary of State for the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, reported from Berlin that the Führer had commanded the following concerning any village found to have harboured Heydrich's killers:

  1. Execute all adult men
  2. Transport all women to a concentration camp
  3. Gather the children suitable for Germanization, then place them in SS families in the Reich and bring the rest of the children up in other ways
  4. Burn down the village and level it entirely
Men massacred at Horák's farm in Lidice Massacre

Horst BöhmeSS Commander of the C division of the Einsatzgruppe, acted on the commands immediately. Members of the German Army field police and SD (Sicherheitsdienst) surrounded the village of Lidice, blocking all avenues of escape. The Nazi regime chose this village because of its residents' known hostility to the occupation, and because Lidice was suspected of harboring local resistance partisans.

All men of the village were rounded up and taken to the farmstead of the Horák family on the edge of the village. Mattresses were taken from neighbouring houses where they were stood up against the wall of the Horáks' barn. Shooting of the men commenced at about 7 a.m. At first the men were shot in groups of five, but Böhme thought the executions were proceeding too slowly and ordered that ten men be shot at a time. The dead were left lying where they fell. This continued until the afternoon hours when there were 173 dead. The next day, seven women, along with nineteen men who had been working in a mine, were sent to Prague, where they were also shot.

All the women and children of the village were taken first to Lidice village school. They were then taken to the nearby town of Kladno where they were detained in the grammar school for three days. The children were separated from their mothers. Four women were pregnant and were sent to the same hospital where Heydrich died. They were given abortions and then sent to different concentration camps. One hundred and eighty-four women of Lidice were loaded on trucks on June 12, 1942, driven to Kladno railway station and forced into a special passenger train guarded by a large escort. In the morning of June 14, 1942 the train halted on a railway siding at the concentration camp atRavensbrück. On their arrival the Lidice women were first isolated in a special block. The women were forced to work in leather processing, road building, textile and ammunition factories. Lack of hygiene, epidemics and contagious diseases spread and took most of the women. Some went mad and others were murdered.

Eighty-eight Lidice children were transported to the area of the former textile factory in Gneisenau Street in ?ód?. Their arrival was announced by a telegram from Horst Böhme's Prague office which ended with: the children are only bringing what they wear. No special care is desirable.The care was minimal. They suffered from a lack of hygiene and from illnesses. By order of the camp management, no medical care was given to the children. Shortly after their arrival in ?ód?, officials from the Central Race and Settlement branch chose seven children at random for Germanisation.

The furor over Lidice caused some hesitation over the fate of the remaining children, but in late June Adolf Eichmann ordered the massacre of the remainder of the children. On July 2, 1942 all of the remaining 81 Lidice children were handed over to the ?ód? Gestapo office, who in turn had them transported to the extermination camp at Che?mno 70 kilometres away, where they were gassed to death in Magirus gas vans. It is almost certain[citation needed] they were killed on the day of their arrival. Out of the 105 Lidice children, 82 died in Che?mno, six died in the German Lebensborn orphanages and 17 returned home.

Destruction of Lidice

The village of Lidice was set on fire and the remains of the buildings were bulldozed, every last remaining piece of evidence being destroyed. Even those buried in the town cemetery were not spared. Their remains were dug up and destroyed.[citation needed] A film was made of the entire process byFranz Treml. A collaborator with German intelligence, Treml had run a Zeiss-Ikon shop in Lucerna Palace in Prague. After the German occupation he became a filming adviser for the National Socialist German Workers Party.

Altogether, about 340 people from Lidice died because of the German reprisal (192 men, 60 women and 88 children).

A small Czech village called Ležáky was also destroyed two weeks after Lidice. Here both men and women were shot, and children were sent to concentration camps or 'Aryanised'.

The death toll resulting from the effort to avenge the death of Heydrich is estimated at 1,300. This count includes relatives of the partisans, their supporters, Czech elites suspected of disloyalty and random victims like those from Lidice.

British poster commemorating Lidice

Nazi propaganda had openly, and proudly, announced the events in Lidice, unlike other massacres in occupied Europe which were kept secret. The information was instantly picked up by Allied media.

Commemorations

In September 1942, coal miners in Stoke-on-Trent in Great Britain founded the organisation Lidice Shall Live to raise funds for the rebuilding of the village after the war.

Soon after the razing of the village, several towns in various countries were named after it (such asSan Jerónimo-Lídice in Mexico City, Barrio Lídice and its hospital in Caracas, VenezuelaLídice de Capira in Panama, and towns in Brazil), so that the name would live on in spite of Hitler's intentions. A neighborhood in Crest HillIllinois, was renamed from Stern Park to Lidice. A square in the English city of Coventry, itself devastated during World War II, is named after Lidice. An alley in a very crowded area of downtown Santiago, Chile is named after the town of Lidice too, and one of the buildings there has a small plaque that explains its tragic story. A street in Sofia is named to commemorate the massacre.

In the wake of the massacre, Humphrey Jennings directed a movie about Lidice, The Silent Village(1943), using amateur actors from a Welsh mining village, Cwmgiedd. An American film was made in 1943 called Hitler's Madman, however it contained a number of inaccuracies in the story. A more accurate British film, Operation Daybreak, starring Timothy Bottoms as Kubiš and Anthony Andrews as Gab?ík, was released in 1975.

American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote a book-length verse play on the massacre, The Murder of Lidice, which was printed in its entirety in the Oct. 19, 1942, edition of Life magazine and published as a book that same year by Harper.

Czech composer Bohuslav Martin? composed his Memorial to Lidice (an 8-minute orchestral work) in 1943 as a response to the massacre. The piece quotes from the Czech St Wenceslas Chorale, as well as, in the climax of the piece, the opening notes (dot-dot-dot-dash = V in Morse code) of Beethoven's 5th Symphony.

Lidice since 1945 Memorial to the murdered children of Lidice.

Women from Lidice who survived imprisonment at Ravensbrück returned after the Second World War. They were rehoused in a new village of Lidice that was built overlooking the original site. The first part of the new village was completed in 1949.

Two men from Lidice were in the United Kingdom serving in the Royal Air Force at the time of the massacre. After 1945 Pilot Officer Josef Horák and Flight LieutenantJosef St?íbrný returned to Czechoslovakia to serve in the Czechoslovak Air Force. However, after the Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948 the new Communist governmentwould not allow them to apply to be housed in the new Lidice because they had served in the forces of one of the western powers. Horák and his family returned to Britain and the RAF and was killed in a flying accident in December 1948.

A sculpture from the 1990s by academic sculptor Marie Uchytilová stands today overlooking the site of the old village of Lidice. Entitled "The Memorial to the Children Victims of the War" it comprises 82 bronze statues of children (42 girls and 40 boys) aged 1 to 16 to honour the children who were murdered at Che?mno in the summer of 1942. A cross with a crown of thorns marks the mass grave of the Lidice men. Overlooking the site is a memorial area flanked by a museum and a small exhibition hall. The memorial area is linked to the new village by an avenue of linden trees. In 1955 a "Rosarium" of 29,000 rosebushes was created beside the avenue of lindens overlooking the site of the old village. In the 1990s the Rosarium was neglected, but after 2001 a new Rosarium with 21,000 bushes was designed and created.[9] Situated 500 metres from the museum, in the new village, is an art gallery which displays permanent and temporary exhibitions. The annual children's art competition attracts entries worldwide.

Anna*

Anna was part of a study Heifetz did on female child survivors of the Holocuast. Her experience reveals the difficulties children faced after liberation.

*Julie Heifetz used pseudonyms for the women she interviewed.

Born in her parents's hometown of Borislav, Poland in 1940, Anna was only a year and a half old when the town became a ghetto, or forced labor camp. The Nazis ordered that all children and elderly persons were to be sent away, but Anna's parents devised a plan to hide their little girl. They built a false ceiling in one of the barracks, and Anna hid in the narrow space while her parents worked in the camp. It took a concerted effort among many people to keep Anna's presence a secret. She remembers being adored by everyone in the town, and wondering why she never got to go outside. Hidden away in the tiny attic, Anna was constantly told, "Whatever happens, you may not cry. Your life depends on it." She carried this with her throughout her life, always subordinating her own feelings to her parents, always thinking THEY were the survivors, not she. Always being told she had to have been too young to remember anything from Borislav.

Anna and her family were liberated when World War II ended. They continued to live in what was now Communist Poland, plagued by fear day in and day out. People hanged daily, screams heard in the night, children who disappeared from their beds - these are the things Anna remembers from her life in Poland after liberation. Finally, Anna's family trekked across Poland, over the border and into Czechoslavakia. Here they stayed in a DP (displaced persons) camp until a distant relative in America invited them to join him in Boston.

Anna's fantasies and dreams about America were crushed when she had to face reality in Boston. "That's what I knew about America, Red Cross boxes with these wonderful smells floating out when they were opened. So I thought, I'm going to this country where all these boxes are readily available, and those children who sent me these gifts will want to be my friends." But the early years in Boston were what Anna described as her worst time after the war. She looked and felt like a "dirty refugee." Mocked and teased by her classmates at school, Anna also struggled at home to make things easier for her parents. Her father could never find steady work, and her mother never had any friends or neighbors to talk to because she only spoke Yiddish. Anna finally left home to attend college, with a vision to find her proper place in the world.

Although she eventually married and had children, Anna spend most of her adulthood feeling isolated and unloved. She spent time in a psychiatric hospital, but later became a social worker and even took her children on a trip back to Germany. At the end of Julie Heifertz's interview, Anna's husband had just left her. Currently residing in Chicago, she planned to return to Boston, "scared and lonely now, but impatient to get on with life." 

 

 

 

Alex Groth

Professor Alex Groth gave a guest lecture to 142 class at the University of California, Davis. I've summarized his story from the tale he hold us on February 22, 2000. Groth's story is an amazing one - highlighting a mother's courage, and the pure luck needed to survive in Nazi Europe.

Groth was seven years old when World War II began. The young boy had spent much of his childhood in his grandparents' cold water flat above their take-out deli in Warsaw, Poland. Although his family was Jewish, they were well assimilated into Polish society, and were relatively well-off financially. Groth's stepfather was a physician, and the extra money was a crucial factor in the boy's survival. Perhpas the most important thing was his mother's courage and ingenuity.

After the Blitzkrieg in September of 1939, Groth hid behind a window curtain and watched a Nazi parade from his grandparents' apartment. He thought the Nazis looked invincible. Soon after, Groth became extremely ill with jaundice and pneumonia, but he was lucky because the Polish physician was still able to treat him. By mid-1940, Groth's family had to leave their home and move to the ghetto area of town. Because his stepfather had money, they were able to buy a nice 4th story apartment. They were also able to purchase smuggled food as it trickled into the ghetto. Even though people around him died of starvation, Groth never suffered hunger in the ghetto.

As a child in the Warsaw ghetto, Groth was often oblivious to the suffering around him. Corpses lay in the streets, but all he could think about was playing soccer with his friends in the courtyard. He resisted learning from his hired tutor, and he resisted the reality of what was happening to most of the Jews in the ghetto.

He could not deny reality forever, even if he was a child. When the deportations to the gas chambers began in 1942, Groth's mother hid him in a box every day at the sock factory where she worked. One day there was to be a selection, so Groth and his mother went outside the factory with the other Jews. His mother held him tightly to her, and incredibly, a Nazi released them and let them go back to work. It was at this point that Groth's mother decided to smuggle them out of the ghetto.

Using bribery, Groth's mother joined a work group outside the ghetto and the two of them went into hiding with family friends. They had to be separated from Groth's stepfather so as not to arouse too much suspicion. While in hiding, Groth became interested in international relations and politics. He read the newspapers every day, counting every German loss or victory as a sign of life or death. His interest in politics, however, was something that would never leave him.

In October of 1944, after the Warsaw ghetto uprising, the Nazis evacuated the entire city and forced everyone onto cattle cars. When Groth and his mother heard that the train was headed for Auschwitz, they jumped off. They hid in some bushes and managed to find sanctuary in a nearby farmhouse. By January of 1945, when Groth was 12 years old, the Russian army liberated them. After learning that Groth's stepfather had been shot and killed by the S.S., his mother contacted relatives in America.

Alex Groth was formally educated in the U.S. and became a professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of many works, including Democracies Against HitlerLincoln: Authoritarian Savior, and People's Poland: Government and Politics.

 


 

Hedy*

 

 

I've summarized Hedy's story from Too Young to Remember by Julie Heifetz. Hedy was part of a study Heifetz did on female child survivors of the Holocuast. Her story highlights the experiences of children who were lucky enough to get out of Germany, but still faced great suffering and pain.

*Julie Heifetz used pseudonyms for the women she interviewed.

As a young girl in Kippenheim, Germany, Hedy was immersed in European culture and intellectual tradition. Her parents taught her to value education, to ask questions and to fight for what she believed in. Hedy always felt somewhat like an outsider because her parents convinced her she was special. But Hedy was unaware that she was Jewish. Her family did not practice the Jewish religion or attend synagogue. Hedy was stunned when her first grade teacher told her she was Jewish. She refused to accept it even after her own mother told her they were indeed Jewish.

Hedy was able to attend a "public gymnasium" in the 1930s because her father was a World War I veteran. By 1938 she was one of only two Jewish students at the school. Hedy dreamed of going to school in France or Switzerland, where she was sure Jewish children were not teased, shoved or ignored as they were in Germany. During Kristallnacht, on November 9, 1938, Hedy came home from school to find her family gone and her house deserted. She managed to locate her mother at an aunt's house across town, but the Nazis had sent her father to a forced labor camp.

Hedy's father did finally return to his family a month later. He contacted a distant relative in England, and arranged for Hedy to live and study there. Hedy felt that her parents were sending her away because they didn't love her; but she realized when she got to the train station that they were sending her on a children's transport in an attempt to save her life.

Things did not go well for Hedy in England. She lived with a family that did not feed her; she only got toast and tea at each meal. Hedy asked the family friend to move her, and she then stayed at a girls' refugee home. Conditions here were not much better, but Hedy found outlets to relieve her suffering. She became involved in the Free German Youth Organization, whose goal was to return to Germany after the war to re-educate German citizens. It was here that Hedy developed her strong political conscience, and was even inspired to enroll in college classes.

Hedy traveled to Germany after the war was over, but she found it too difficult to stay there. "I was too full of anger and hate to carry out my plan to re-educate the German people," she told Julie Heifetz. Determined but afraid to find out what happened to her parents, Hedy went back to Kippenheim. There she saw her old house, converted into "efficiency apartments" and then learned that her father died in Dachau and her mother was transported to Drancy. (She presumably died as well.) Hedy eventually visited the remnants of these concentration camps when she pilgrimaged to Europe in 1980.

After working on the Nuremberg trials in Germany, Hedy decided to move to the U.S. Her adult life in America has been a tumultuous one. After two failed marriages, she continued to be active in political and social movements, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the protests against the Vietnam War. She sees her political activism as a way to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. Many people have told Hedy she is not a "survivor" because she was never in a concentration camp. Hedy says, "I call myself a survivor... I know what happened to me, and what might have happened." In fighting for oppressed peoples around the world, Hedy feels she is making something positive out of her Holocaust experience. "It is a healing process for me, knowing that I have a way to give to others the kind of help that was given to me.

 

 

Kayla*

 Kayla was part of a study Heifetz did on female child survivors of the Holocuast. Kayla's experience is a good example of the religious and moral ambiguity children often faced while trying to survive during the Holocaust.

*Julie Heifetz used pseudonyms for the women she interviewed.

Kayla was born in 1940 in Tarnov, Poland. The Germans already occupied Poland at this time, and Kayla's family was living in the ghetto area of Tarnov. Kayla's earlierst memory is when a truck of German soldiers came to take all the children away. Oddly, many parents thought their children would be better off leaving the ghetto. (They didn't realize the trucks were headed for the death camps.) Kayla's parents placed her on the truck, and she began to scream, kick and cry. A German soldier took her down and handed her back to her parents, advising them to keep her with them if they were smart.

Kayla's father arranged for her and her mother to hide with a non-Jewish farmer in Warsaw. Posing as Christians, Kayla and her mother changed their names, abandoned their Jewish faith and began to practice Catholicism. This was a very confusing time for Kayla. At two years old, it was hard for her to understand why her father had stayed behind (he spoke no Polish and had prominent Semitic features), why she could no longer light the Jewish candles, and why she now had to attend church. Her mother taught her to lie about her name and her religion, but being a toddler made things difficult. One day Kayla told the landlady that she was Catholic, "but really Jewish." She and her mother had to find a new apartment after that.

They lived in a hotel, still posing as Polish Catholics. Kayla's father joined them, but hid in their closet during daylight hours. Kayla was told that her father was really her uncle by marriage; in case his Jewish identity was ever discovered, her parents did not want her implicated. Kayla's mother also told her say she lived only with her mother, no one else. By this point Kayla had become thoroughly convinced she was a true Christian. She no longer had any memories of her Jewish past.

During the Warsaw ghetto uprising, and the German bombings, Kayla and her parents had to migrate to a small village outside Warsaw to avoid the danger. While living on a tiny farm there, Kayla's family was finally liberated by the Russian army. Free to leave, they made their way to the train station as darkness began to fall. Kayla remembers, "It was dusk and I was afraid of getting lost, afraid of the people yelling and screaming and trying to get onto the trains." Even to this day, Kayla often has panic attacks if she is outside at dusk. It is a fear that has never left her.

When the Communists started to take over Poland in 1946, Kayla's parents took her to Belgium. They then sent her to a French boarding school, but not before telling her she was really Jewish. Kayla was angry at her mother for lying to her all those years. At her new school, Kayla made up fantastic stories to tell her teacher and friends. She says, "My mother had to unteach me to lie.... I didn't know the difference between a lie and the truth."

Kayla eventually attended the University of Frankfurt, and married a young rabbi. She traveled the globe with him and settled in New York with their two children. Kayla was determined to attend an American university, and ultimately received her master's degree in teaching. Kayla reflects on her Holocaust experience: "I am still afraid of the unknown, of being without, which I'm sure is the result of such an insecure childhood.... [but] I have come a long way from the child who did whatever I was told. The older I get, the more I think the people who follow the crowd don't make it." 

 


 

Alfred Ament

 

The facts of Alfred's story come from Children of the Holocaust. I've summarized and re-written the information here to make it more engaging. But I am in debt to that website for the basic outline of his biography. Alfred's story shows the frequency of physical movement that many children went through as their parents and other adults tried to save them from the Nazis

 

Alfred and his brother Hans were born in Vienna, Austria. After the German invasion in 1938, Alfred's family managed to flee to Belgium. They applied for American visas, and got them in early 1940. Unfortunately, the were put on a waiting list for a space on a ship to the U.S.

Alfred assimilated quickly to Flemish society. He made friends easily at school, learned the language, and participated in such sports as soccer and swimming. But by the spring of 1942, Alfred's mother was forced to sell her engagement ring and her son's stamp collection to buy food for the family. One year later, the Ament family got a postcard ordering them to report for deportation. They fled to Marseilles, France, which was unoccupied at the time. But Mrs. Ament became extremely ill and had to be hospitalized. Because the Nazis had already sent their father to an internment camp, Afred and Hans had to go to a children's home.

At the home, Alfred worked in the kitchen, but usually went hungry. When the Nazis raided the children's home in 1943, Alred was able to escape to a farm with two other children. He hid there, but had to help out with the daily farm labors. Alfred spent his time milking cows and cleaning pig pens until a false identity card allowed him to join a transport to Switzerland. After scaling a ten-foot, barbed wire fence, Alfred and 30 other children found their way to a refugee camp in Switzerland.

Alfred was able to communicate with his mother until she died of tuberculosis. Alfred was freed in May 1945, and learned that his grandparents and little brother Hans were murdered in the Auschwitz death camp. At 17, Alfred had to face the rest of his life as an orphan with no surviving family. 

 

Augusta Feldhorn

The facts of Augusta's story come from Children of the Holocaust. I've summarized and re-written the information here to make it more engaging. But I am in debt to that website for the basic outline of her biography. Augusta's story is amazing simply because she was able to survive in hiding for so long; also, it shows the willingness of the Catholic church to help Jews, becuase Augusta and her mother spent much time hiding in a convent.

 

 

Augusta Feldhorn was born in Vienna, Austria in 1934. She was the only child of Julius and Margarete, who worked as entrpreneurs, inventing machinery for Julius's hat factory. When the Germans annexed Austria in 1938, Augusta and her family were able to escape to Belgium, but the Germans soon made their way there in 1940. At six years old, Augusta accompanied her parents to the French border, but was turned away. They had to stay in Belgium and face the Nazi onslaught.

Fearing for their child's life, Augusta's parents hid her in a convent in the French countryside. They had many Christian friends and eventually moved Augusta to the home of a Christian family only two blocks away from the Feldhorn house. One morning, Augusta's mother left to go to the store, only to return to find the house surrounded by German police. They seized Augusta's aunt, uncle and father, and took them to the transit camps at Malines. Her father eventually perished in the Birkenau concentration camp.

Margarete Feldhorn removed Augusta from the safe house two blocks away and put her on a train back to the convent. She later joined her daughter there, posing as a nun. But Augusta's life at the convent was far from ideal. She was a shy, awkward little girl who never made friends with the twenty or so other Jewish children hiding there. In 1943, Augusta needed her tonsils taken out, but the nuns could not take her to the hospital for fear the child's Jewish identity would be discovered. They had to remove her tonsils and adenoids without the luxury of anathesia.

Walking down a deserted road in 1945, eleven-year old Augusta fainted at the site of American soldiers coming toward her. She and her mother were liberated, and left the convent. Little is known about Augusta's life after liberation. 

 


 

Bronislaw Honig

 

The facts of Bronislaw's life come from Children of the Holocaust. Bronislaw's experience is tragic not only because of his fate, but because his parents' efforts at hiding him ended up being entirely futile.

The son of Cracow residents Rose and David Honig, Bronislaw was four years old when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. He usually spent his days at home with his grandmother while his father worked in a hardware store and his mother made dresses. The Honig family was immersed in Jewish cultural life before the Nazis came to power. Cracow was a thriving industrial city with over 60,000 Jewish citizens. Bronislaw was a well-mannered, handsome little boy who did well in school and had many playmates.

Bronislaw and his family were forced to live in the Cracow ghetto beginning in the spring of 1941. Many people died of starvation, disease and exposure, but Bronislaw managed to survive. His parents were completely impoverished, but miraculously remained healthy and strong.

In January of 1943, Bronislaw's mother and father were sent to the Plaszow forced labor camp. They secretly arranged for their son to stay with a Jewish police officer. David Honig was working in a warehouse right outside the borders of the camp, so he was able to receive a message from the policeman that the Cracow ghetto was about to be emptied of all inhabitants. This meant that Bronilaw would most likely be sent to a death camp. So his father snuck out of the Plaszow camp and entered the ghetto at night. He hid seven-year old Bronislaw in a suitcase, piled atop with old clothes on a cart. David Honig kept his son in Plaszow with him until another child was discovered in the camp and shot by the Nazis.

Fearing for Bronislaw's life, his father released him to a young Christian woman who also worked in the warehouse. She was willing to help, but unfortunately her family was not so sympathetic. Although the woman successfully smuggled Bronislaw out of the camp in a backpack, her stepfather betrayed her. When he found out she was harboring a Jewish boy, he reported her to the German police. They shot and killed the young woman and Bronislaw who was only seven years old at the time of his death. 

 

Alinka

The facts of Alinka's short life come from Children of the Holocaust. Alinka's story is a common one among many European Jews who fell victim to the Nazis.

Alinka was born in 1934, into Poland's largest Jewish community, the town of Warsaw. Alinka's family was relatively wealthy and lived in an affluent area, so the little girl spent the first six years of her life in a loving, stable atmosphere.

This all changed in October of 1940 when the Germans created the Warsaw ghetto. 265,000 people were packed in to 73 streets of run-down apartments. The conditions of the ghetto were, of course, deplorable. However, Alinka and other Jewish children became involved in "underground" schools, plays and sports.

There is no record of Alinka or her family after 1941. They either perished in the ghetto, or the Nazis transported them to Treblinka death camp where they were murdered. Whatever the case, Alinka's childhood was cut tragically short.

Sadly, Alinka's fate was not unusual among Jewish children in Nazi-occupied Europe. Tens of thousands or more disappeared without a trace, sometimes leaving surviving family members who could only assume the worst. 

 

 

Jacqueline Morgenstern

The facts of Jacqueline's life come from Children of the Holocaust. I've summarized and re-written the information here to make it more engaging. Jacqueline's unique experience is a striking example of Nazi cruelty when it came to doing medical experiments on children.

Jacqueline was born to Suzanne and Karl Morgenstern in 1932 in Paris, France. Her parents had moved to France to escape Rumania's oppressive anti-semitism. Jacqueline's early childhood was relatively happy; her father and uncle owned a beauty shop in central Paris, and Jacqueline attended school.

Jacqueline was eight years old when, in 1940, the Nazis occupied Paris, and Aryanization of Jewish businesses began. Jacqueline's parents had to give up their shop to a non-Jewish Frenchman, and fled to unoccupied Marseilles in southern France. The whole family had forged papers identifying them as non-Jews, but a French citizen reported them to Gestapo in June of 1944. Jacqueline and her parents were sent immediately to Auschwitz. Suzanne and Jacqueline went to the women's work camp, where food rations were meager. Suzanne gave Jacqueline most of her food, so she became malnourished and ill. When the Nazis found her no longer useful for forced labor, they sent her to the gas chambers.

After her mother's death, Jacqueline was sent to a special children's barracks. The children there were being held for later medical experimentation, so the conditions in these barracks were more hospitable than the rest of the camp. The children received decent food, the barracks were heated, and the German staff entertained them with games and songs. Jacqueline probably felt isolated and alone because the majority of the children spoke only Polish. But there is a strong liklihood that at least one or two spoke French and became friends with Jacqueline.

Dr. Kurt Heissmeyer transferred the children to the Neuengamme concentration camp in the fall of 1944. Here he injected them with tuberculosis cultures, and they of course became extremely ill. In January of 1945, Heissmeyer decided to operate on the children to see the effects of tuberculosis on their glands. It is not clear if Jacqueline was operated on.

As the British Allied forces got closer to the camp, the camp adminstrators transferred the children to a school in Hamburg. They injected Jacqueline and the other children with morphine until they slipped into comas, then hanged them one by one. 

 


 

Carlo D'Angeli

The facts of Carlo's life come from Children of the Holocaust. Carlo's experience was a typical one for Italian Jews who were sent to the east.

Carlo was born in 1938 in Milan, Italy. His parents were industrious and well-educated; they were representative of a large number of Italian Jews who had long assimilated into cultural, social and economic life there.

Mussolini passed anti-Jewish legislation in November of 1938, coinciding with Kristallnacht in Germany. In Italy, Jews could no longer work or go to school. Carlo's father lost his job as a clerical worker and things became financially difficult for the family. When Hitler invaded Italy in September of 1941, four-year old Carlo and his family were evacuated to a small town to escape the bombings. In October, the Germans began rounding up Italian Jews for deportation to the death camps.

On November 5, 1943, the Fascist Militia and German SS discovered Carlo, his parents, and his little brother. Four days later they were forced to board an overcrowded, unsanitary cattle car in Florence. This train was the second deportation to leave Italy for the death camps; it carried 400 Jews to Auschwitz.

Carlo and his family died in the gas chambers in Auschwitz. Carlo was not yet five years old. 

 


 

Children and Trauma

 

 

The Holocaust defied conventional definitions of trauma. Is it possible to heal? 
My thoughts after reading "Children Surviving Persecution" by Judith S. Katsenberg and Charlotte Kahn.

 

Traumatic events affect children in a much more profound way than they do adults. Because the Holocaust is a trauma of such unspeakable magnitude, one can barely imagine the complex effects it must have had on Jewish children. Yet many of those who survived went on to lead productive and successful lives. How did they manage to do so, and what kind of barriers did they have to overcome?

Children, especially those under 16 or 17, do not have the developed personality or psychological structures necessary to deal with horrors and trauma. They are not prepared to be separated from their parents, assume false identities, hide with strangers or witness such cruelty, suffering and death that defined the Holocaust. Childhood traumatization was thus greater than that of adults because it disturbed the child's devlopmental process. The effect was often a repression or internalization of memories that would come to haunt the survivor in later life.

Research in child psychology has proven that the popular belief that children have no memory of their earliest experiences is false. In other words, a child is never too young to remember. Even infants store memory in sensory form, which sometimes causes painful flashbacks in adulthood. Sensory or auditory stimuli often produce these responses, which include nightmares.

The Holocaust went far beyond any other kind of trauma expeienced by human beings. In addition to witnessing massive suffering, children experienced constant fear of emergency. To survive, one had to be vigilant, clever and imaginative, but traumatic events could still happen at the drop of a hat. Parents could disappear suddenly or children could find themselves in a different hiding place every night. This stress, irregularity and the fear of what COULD happen in addition to what actually did, interfered with a child's developmental phases and normal growth.

For the Jewish child of the Holocaust, survival meant a suppression of feelings. A cry in the night, or a plea of hunger or pain, could have compromised the child's life. Children thus learned to "not feel" at all, which sometimes helped them to face torture and death. However, many of them became apathetic to their own feelings and to those of others.

Repressed memories also caused child survivors to constantly recreate the victim/oppressor scenario over and over again. Sometimes they would act it out with their own children, straining the parent/child relationship and transmitting the trauma to the next generation. Others felt extreme guilt or anxiety all the time, usually because they did not understand why they survived when so many others had died. It seemed as if they, too, should have been part of that six million.

For child survivors, post-war traumas were almost as great as wartime stresses. Some had to leave their caretakers and return to biological parents who had become strangers. Others went to orphanages or migrated to other countries, especially the U.S. Those who migrated had to adapt to new surroundings, a new culture and a new language. Parents and other adults would tell young children that there was no possible way they could remember what happened, or that they should not remember. They also came to believe that their memories were inaccurate or invalid. Most children grew up thinking their parents were the survivors, not them. It was not until 35 to 45 years after the war did child survivors recognize themselves as such, thus beginning the healing process.

Despite the trauma they faced, children never ceased to be children. They played even in ghettos and concentration camps, where their games often took on disturbing and morbid characteristics. After the war, even those who experienced bed-wetting and nightmares eventually became socialized, made friends and had productive lives. Perhaps the key to this psychological survival was recognizing oneself AS a survivor. This was often difficult because it was contrary to the previous need to hide one's Jewish identity. But it allowed one to join groups of survivors, to talk with them and to realize he or she was neither alone nor inferior. To realize one was a survivor rather than a victim usually produced pride, and a sense of purpose to prevent further tragedies.

Child survivors attest that they have begun to heal their wounds by reading about the Holocaust, talking to others, and visiting the places where they experienced the war. Writing memoirs has been helpful because survivors want to ensure that the world does not forget them. Child survivor groups, especially, provide a forum to validate memories and identities, and also create a sense of belonging.

Child survivors of the Holocaust give us a unique perspective on how children deal with extreme trauma. Those that have led productive, successful lives give us hope that even youngsters who experience the unimaginable can emerge with dignity and humanity

 

 

Natan Abbe

 

Born 1924 in Lodz, Poland

Natan, the son of Carola and Israel Abbe, grew up in Lodz, Poland. His father owned a haberdashery store, where he sold hats, gloves, and other accessories. He had two sisters and a younger brother. A large, fairly liberal city, Lodz was home to over 233,000 Jews. It was a major center of the textile industry. Its diverse population of Jews, Poles and Germans lived together in relative peace.

When the Germans occupied Lodz in September 1939, Natan was a fifteen year-old schoolboy. Anti-Jewish restrictions were immediately enacted. Jews were forbidden to congregate for religious services, they were subject to curfew, their radios were confiscated, and they were forced to wear the yellow star. In addition, Jews were barred from most professions, and all Jewish communal institutions were ordered to disband.

On February 8, 1940, all the Jews were forced to live in a run-down part of the city. On May 1, 1940, the overcrowded ghetto was closed off.

Living conditions were horrendous. There was no heat, little food or medicine, and inadequate sanitation. People fell dead in the street from starvation, disease and exposure. Still, the basic appearance of normal inner-city life was maintained. Schools and hospitals still functioned.

The Germans constantly harassed the Jewish residents of the ghetto, randomly seizing people on the streets, raiding their apartments, and subjecting them to horrendous indignities. People were shot for the slightest reason. Young children often became the sole support of thier families. They would smuggle themselves out of the ghetto in order to find food and bring it back to their starving parents, brothers and sisters.

Natan was shot to death in late 1940 by a German soldier at the ghetto gate. He was sixteen years old.

Natan was one of 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Germans and their collaborators during the Holocaust.

Emmanuel Alper

 

Born 1927 in Pinsk, Poland

Emmanuel was born in Pinsk, Poland in 1927. His father, David, was a prominent educator, principal in the prestigious Tarbut Gymnasia (a Jewish high school), and active in the Zionist movement. His mother Shoshana (Barlas) was born in Warsaw and married his father in 1922. She taught with her husband at the high school.

Under the Soviet-German Pact, Pinsk was occupied by the Russians in 1939. The Jews living in Pinsk had little information about what the Germans were doing to the Jews living under their occupation, and they felt relatively secure.

The Germans occupied Pinsk in July 1941 and immediately set up a Jewish Council to facilitate their planned murder of the entire Jewish population of the city. Emmanuel's father was chosen to head the Council, but he resigned within two days, when he realized what would be required of him. Ten days later, the Germans executed him.

The Germans set up a sealed-off ghetto on April 30, 1942. They forced the entire Jewish population, including Emmanuel, his sister Avia and his mother, inside the ghetto. It was overcrowded and lacked adequate food and sanitation. Between October 20 and November 1, 1942, nearly all of the 20,000 Jews remaining in the ghetto were rounded up by the Germans and murdered.

Emmanuel was fifteen years old.

Sura Andrezejko

 

Born 1927 in Stawiski, Poland

Sura, the youngest daughter of Hershel and Fay Andrezejko, grew up on a farm in rural Poland. She lived in a small village, where the entire population was Jewish. Outside the village, the non-Jewish peasants were often hostile to the Jews.

Sura's older brother, Mordechai, left the village in 1938 for the United States. Sura remained in the village with her grandfather, parents, and older sister.

Sura's village, in the Bialystok region, was taken over by the Russians in 1939. Their lives were disrupted, causing much hardship, but no news about the mass exterminations carried out by the Germans in Poland, was permitted by the Russians. The Germans invaded Stawiski in July 1941, and immediately massacred most of its residents. Sura and her family were trapped.

German killing squads, called Einsatzgruppen, continued to massacre Jews in surrounding towns. The Nazis murdered more than 20,000 Jews during the first two months of the German invasion. On November 2, 1942, one of the most carefully organized and intensive round-ups of the war took place.

Sura and her family were hunted down by the Germans. They were taken, along with all the remaining Jews in the surrounding villages, to a military camp.

In January 1943, the entire camp, with its 20,000 inmates, was forced into sealed cattle cars. The Jews were taken to the Auschwitz death camp where they were murdered in the gas chambers. Sura was fifteen years old.

Ulrich Wolfgang Arnheim

 

Born November 2, 1927 in Berlin, Germany

 

Ulrich was the only child of Dr. Fritz A. and Milli (Rosenthal) Arnheim. Dr. Arnheim was a successful lawyer. The family lived in Berlin, a large, cosmopolitan, highly sophisticated city. Many of the Jews of Berlin were assimilated and were well integrated into the social and cultural fabric of the city.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany, Ulrich was a six year-old schoolboy. They slowly introduced harsh economic and social restrictions against the Jews. Jews were barred from most professions, and lost their citizenship. Ulrich's father lost his job, leaving the family with no regular income. The Germans began expelling Jews who had not been born in Germany. In November 1938, a country-wide night of massive riots and plundering was directed towards Germany's Jews. This was later known as Kristallnacht, because of all the glass windows that had been broken. Ulrich's parents decided to find a way to leave the country. They attempted to place Ulrich in a boarding school in England. Because his father had lost his job and could not guarantee his monthly maintenance, Ulrich was turned down. A Jewish woman living in England expressed interest in taking him in, but Ulrich's parents were unable to part from him. They tried to obtain visas so that the family could go to the United States.

Ulrich was a good-natured, sensitive, clever child. He studied English at school , and was well liked by his classmates.

The Arnheim family was hopelessly trapped in Germany after October 1941. Emigration from Germany was now forbidden by the Nazis, and harsher restrictions were being passed against the Jews. They were forbidden to use public transportation, and they could be evicted from their homes at any moment. Jews were forced to wear the yellow star. The Germans began deporting Jews to sealed, hunger- and disease-ridden ghettos in eastern Europe. After September 1942, they began deporting German Jews directly to death camps.

Ulrich and his parents were murdered in the Auschwitz death camp.

Abraham Beem


Born June 13, 1934 in Leeuwarden, Holland

Abraham, the son of Hartog and Rosette Beem, was a five year-old schoolboy when the Germans invaded Holland in May 1940. Abraham's father was a high school teacher in the small city of Leeuwarden, in northern Holland. The Jews of the Netherlands were well-integrated into the general population and they were active in all aspects of the country's social, cultural and economic life.

When the Germans invaded, they immediately embarked upon steps to separate the Jews from the rest of the population. Beginning in October 1940, they liquidated Jewish businesses and banned Jews from most professions. The rich became poor and the middle class was reduced to subsistence levels. At first, the Dutch population resisted the anti-Jewish measures enacted by the Germans. But the Germans reacted brutally, and were able to break up most organized resistance.

Many Jews were forced into restricted ghetto areas in July 1941, and after May 1942, all Jews had to wear the yellow star. Beginning in mid-July 1942, the Germans began rounding up Holland's Jewish citizens. They were first taken to transit camps, and from there to death camps in Poland, where they were murdered.

Abraham's parents decided that the family would go into hiding. They felt that the children would be safer posing as non-Jews in a rural village. Abraham and his older sister were sent to the village of Ermelo, and a Christian family, willing to risk death to save them, was found. Abraham was given a new name and identity. He was known as Jan de Witt, and he attended school along with the other village children.

The Nazis, realizing that many Jewish children had been sent into hiding, intensified their search. They found collaborators willing to turn them in for payment. Nine year-old Abraham was denounced as a Jew in February 1944. Abraham, along with his older sister Eva, was deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, where both were murdered upon arrival.

Eva Beem

 

Born May 21, 1932 in Leeuwarden, Holland

Eva, the daughter of Hartog and Rosette Beem, was an eight year-old schoolgirl when the Germans invaded Holland in May 1940. Eva's father was a high school teacher in the small city of Leeuwarden, in northern Holland. The Jews of the Netherlands were well-integrated into the general population and they were active in all aspects of the country's social, cultural and economic life.

When the Germans invaded, they immediately embarked upon steps to separate the Jews from the rest of the population. Beginning in October 1940, they liquidated Jewish businesses and banned Jews from most professions. The rich became poor and the middle class was reduced to subsistence levels. At first, the Dutch population resisted the anti-Jewish measures enacted by the Germans. But the Germans reacted brutally, and were able to break up most organized resistance.

Many Jews were forced into restricted ghetto areas in July 1941, and after May 1942, all Jews had to wear the yellow star. Beginning in mid-July 1942, the Germans began rounding up Holland's Jewish citizens. They were first taken to transit camps, and from there to death camps in Poland, where they were murdered.

Eva's parents decided that the family would go into hiding. They felt that the children would be safer posing as non-Jews in a rural village. Eva and her younger brother were sent to the village of Ermelo, and a Christian family, willing to risk death to save them, was found. Eva was given a new name and identity. She was known as Linni de Witt, and she attended school along with the other village children.

The Nazis, realizing that many Jewish children had been sent into hiding, intensified their search. They found collaborators willing to turn them in for payment. Eleven year-old Eva was denounced as a Jew in February 1944. Eva, along with her younger brother Abraham, was soon deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, where both were murdered upon arrival.

Richard Benguigui

 

Born March 31, 1937 in Oran, Algeria

Richard Benguigui was born in Oran, Algeria, on March 31, 1937. At the time of Richard's birth, Algeria still belonged to France, and was home to nearly 120,000 Jews. Seeking to improve the chances for a better life for her children, Mrs. Benguigui moved the family shortly before the war to the bustling port city of Marseilles, France. When the Germans conquered France in 1940, the 350,000 Jews living in the country found themselves the targets of ever-growing persecution.

The Germans divided France, occupying all of the north, allowing French collaborators to rule most of the southern zone, where Richard lived. The government in the south was directly responsible to the Germans and usually cooperated with them against the Jews. On July 31, 1943, Richard's mother was arrested by French collaborators and was deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, where she was subjected to horrific medical experiments. Richard, six years old, and his brothers Jacques, who was twelve, and Jean-Claude, who was five, were sent to live in the children's home in Izieu. Their baby sister, Yvette, was hidden by sympathetic French farmers.

The children's home in Izieu was run by a staff who did everything they could to brighten up the lives of the children with picnics and other pleasurable activities. But the children at the home were Jewish, and the Germans were determined not to let them remain alive for long.

On April 6, 1944, the Nazis came for the children of Izieu. The Benguigui brothers and their friends at the home were deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland one month later.

The German officer responsible for the arrests was Klaus Barbie. Barbie escaped justice after the war by working as a spy for the United States. He had been living in South America when the scandal was uncovered decades later. Barbie was eventually extradited to France, where on July 4, 1987, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for "crimes against humanity." On hand for the trial were Mrs. Benguigui and her daughter, Yvette. Both had miraculously survived the Holocaust. Richard and his two brothers were unable to see Barbie brought to justice. They perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in May 1944.

Baroukh-Raoul Bentitou

 

Born May 27, 1931 in Palikao, Algeria

Baroukh was one of eight children born to the Bentitou family of Palikao, Algeria. On the eve of World War II, the Jewish population of Algeria numbered approximately 120,000. But Algeria was a very poor land. Seeking a better life for his children, Baroukh's father moved the family to the port city of Marseilles in southern France.

Life was disrupted when the Germans invaded France in May 1940. While the Germans occupied all of northern France, they allowed French collaborators to control most of the south, where Baroukh lived. French authorities in the southern area were directly responsible to the Germans and assisted them them in persecuting Jews.

On January 23, 1943, Baroukh's father and two older brothers were arrested in Marseilles. They were later deported to the Sobibor death camp where they perished in the gas chamber. Eleven year-old Baroukh went to live at the children's home in Izieu.

Given the circumstances, life at the children's home was comparatively peaceful. Outings arranged by the sympathetic staff helped the children forget, if only briefly, the terror that raged around them. This came to an abrupt end, however, in April 1944, when the Nazis decided that Baroukh and the other Jewish children in the home had lived long enough.

On April 6, 1944, Baroukh and most of his friends were sent to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. The officer responsible for the arrest and deportation of the children was Klaus Barbie. In a scandal that shook the world, it was discovered that Barbie had escaped punishment after the war by working as a spy for the American government. Barbie, who was then living in South America under an assumed name, was eventually sent back to France for trial, where, on July 4, 1987, he was found guilty of "crimes against humanity" and sentenced to life in prison. Baroukh, however, did not live to see Barbie punished. He perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz just after his thirteenth birthday.

Lia Borak

 

Born 1928 in Lvov (Lemberg), Poland

Lia and her twin sister, Mia, were the daughters of Evelina (Wender) and Adolf Borak. They lived in the city of Lvov, in eastern Poland. Their father had been a very wealthy landowner who lost much of his money before the war. The family was still well off, however, and they lived in a comfortable villa in a suburb of the city. The two girls were always dressed in pretty clothes, and had many toys and dolls. They were fraternal twins, and could be easily told apart because Mia wore glasses and had lighter hair.

Lvov had a thriving Jewish community in 1939. It was home to a Jewish population of 110,000, and was a center of culture, education and political activity.

The Germans occupied Lvov on June 30, 1941, and immediately began murdering Jews. During four days of horrible antisemitic rioting, over 4,000 Jews were killed. Soon after, all Jews age fourteen and above were forced to wear the yellow star. Over the next few months, Jewish property was plundered, Jews were sent to forced labor, synagogues were burned down, and Jewish cemeteries were desecrated.

In December 1941, the Germans forced the Jews of Lvov into a closed-off ghetto. During the move, over 5,000 elderly and sick Jews were murdered. Conditions in the ghetto were horrendous. There was terrible overcrowding and little food or sanitation. That winter, the Germans began sending Jews to labor camps, where they were worked to death. After March 19442, the Germans began rounding up Jews and sending them to the Belzec death camp. Only those working in factories that performed essential functions for the German military were to be spared. In January 1943, the ghetto officially became a labor camp. Now the Germans began murdering Jews at their places of work. On June 1, 1943, a final round up of the Jews in the ghetto was begun. German and Ukrainian police units surrounded the ghetto, blocking all exits. Other units were sent into ghetto to capture the remaining inhabitants. When they met resistance, the Germans blew up buildings or set them afire. The 7,000 Jews they forced out of hiding were immediately shot.

Mia and Lia were twelve years old when the Germans occupied Lvov. No details are known about their fate. A rumor circulated that the girls were forced to take part in German experiments on twins.

Isac Brauman

 

Born 1937 in Liepaja, Latvia

Isac, the younger son of Ana and Abram Brauman, lived in the port city of Liepaja, Latvia, on the shores of the Baltic Sea. His father, a tailor, managed to support the family. In 1935, the city had a Jewish population of 7,379 out of a total population of 57,098. Latvia was annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940. On June 29, 1941, a week after the invasion of Russia, the Germans occupied Liepaja. Isac was four years old.

The Germans immediately instituted anti-Jewish measures, among them decrees ordering the wearing of the yellow star and a draft for forced labor. Jewish males age 16 to 60 were required to report daily at the city square. Of those who reported, some were sent to forced labor, and others were taken to prison. Those who failed to report were arrested in their homes, or on the street, and were murdered.

In August 1941, most Jews were forced to work for the German army. Many Jews had their money, furniture, and household goods confiscated and were forced from their homes. Jews considered unfit were murdered, including residents of the old-age home. By November 1941, half of the Jewish population had been killed.

On December 13, 1941, a decree was issued ordering the Jews to stay at home on December 15 and 16. On the night of December 14, Latvian police, working under German orders, rounded up Jews in their homes and took them to prison. The few holders of work permits and their families were released, but most of the other Jews were taken to a small fishing village to be murdered. Ordered to undress in freezing temperatures, they were led, in groups of 10, to the edge of already prepared trenches. There they were shot by firing squads, two gunmen for each victim. Women were told to hold their babies against their shoulders to make them easier targets. Over 2,700 Jews, including women and children, were murdered during this action.

Two similar mass murders took place in February and April 1942. After that, the 805 Jews left in the city were confined to an overcrowded, sealed off ghetto. The ghetto was emptied in October 1943. The residents were taken to Kaiserwald concentration camp, where most died.

We know nothing about Isac and his family after the Germans occupied Liepaja in 1941. No further traces have ever been found.

Isi Brauman

 

Born 1934 in Liepaja, Latvia

Isi, the older son of Ana and Abram Brauman, lived in the port city of Liepaja, Latvia, on the shores of the Baltic Sea. His father, a tailor, managed to support the family. In 1935, the city had a Jewish population of 7,379 out of a total population of 57,098. Latvia was annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940. On June 29, 1941, when Isi was a seven year-old schoolboy, the Germans occupied the city.

The Germans immediately instituted anti-Jewish measures, among them decrees ordering the wearing of the yellow star and a draft for forced labor. Jewish males age 16 to 60 were required to report daily at the city square. Of those who reported, some were sent to forced labor, and others were taken to prison. Those who failed to report were arrested in their homes, or on the street, and were murdered.

In August 1941, most Jews were forced to work for the German army. Many Jews had their money, furniture, and household goods confiscated and were forced from their homes. Jews considered unfit were murdered, including residents of the old-age home. By November 1941, half of the Jewish population had been killed.

On December 13, 1941, a decree was issued ordering the Jews to stay at home on December 15 and 16. On the night of December 14, Latvian police, working under German orders, rounded up Jews in their homes and took them to prison. The few holders of work permits and their families were released, but most of the other Jews were taken to a small fishing village to be murdered. Ordered to undress in freezing temperatures, they were led, in groups of 10, to the edge of already prepared trenches. There they were shot by firing squads, two gunmen for each victim. Women were told to hold their babies against their shoulders to make them easier targets. Over 2,700 Jews, including women and children, were murdered during this action.

Two similar mass murders took place in February and April 1942. After that, the 805 Jews left in the city were confined to an overcrowded, sealed-off ghetto. The ghetto was emptied in October 1943. The residents were taken to Kaiserwald concentration camp, where most died.

We know nothing about Isi and his family after the Germans occupied Liepaja in 1941. No further traces have ever been found.

Luciano Fano

 

Born February 16, 1933 in Parma, Italy

Luciano Fano was born on February 16, 1933 in Pellegrino Parmense, a small village near Parma, in northern Italy. he was the son of Ermanno and Giorgina (Padova). Mr. Fano worked as a pharmacist and provided a comfortable life for his family. Luciano had a sister, Liliana, who was two years younger. Jews had lived in Parma since the middle of the 14th century, but when Luciano was growing up, only 232 Jews made their homes there.

Italian Jews were fully integrated into Italian society and culture. They held positions in most professions, including the government and the military.

The anti-Jewish racial laws, passed by Mussolini in November 1938, forced Jews out of most professions and barred them from public education. These laws caused financial disaster for many.

Soon after the Germans occupied Italy in August 1943, they began arresting and deporting the Jews of Italy to death camps in "the East." in October 1943, they raided Jewish communities in the larger cities. Many Jews fled from their homes, looking for refuge. Luciano and his family remained in Parma.

On December 8, 1943, Luciano and his family were arrested. At first, they were imprisoned in local internment camps by the Italian police. After four months, they were sent to Fossoli, a large internment camp run by the Germans. Man and women lived in separate, large, unsanitary and overcrowded barracks. Food was minimal.On April 5, 1944, Luciano and his family were forced into cattle cars, together with 850 other Jews from the camp. Conditions barely sustained life. Five days later, the trains were unsealed upon their arrival at Auschwitz.

Luciano and his family were taken directly to the gas chambers where they were murdered. Luciano was eleven years old.

Augusta Feldhorn

 

Born May 29, 1934 in Vienna, Austria

Augusta, the only daughter of Margarete (Krigsman) and Julius Feldhorn, was born in Vienna, Austria. Her father, originally an accountant, had established his own men's hat factory, inventing most of the machinery himself. After the Germans annexed Austria in 1938, they immediately began to persecute its Jewish citizens. Augusta's family fled to Belgium, hoping to reestablish their lives. Augusta began school and made friends. Life seemed to be getting back to normal. This was not to last. The Germans invaded Belgium in May 1940, just before Augusta's sixth birthday. The terrified family attempted to flee to France, but was turned back at the border.

In October 1940, all Jews in Belgium were ordered to register with the police. Augusta's parents decided to hide her in a convent in the countryside. A few months later her parents, wanting to be near her, hid Augusta with Christian friends who lived a few streets away from their home. In May 1942, Jews were forced to wear the yellow star, and Jewish adults were required to report for forced labor. Her parents went into hiding with false papers.

One morning, early in the summer of 1942, Augusta's mother left home to buy some milk. Their house was surrounded by police. Her father, uncle and aunt were forcibly seized and taken to the transit camp at Malines.

Escaping the raid, Augusta's mother immediately put her terrified eight year-old daughter on a train taking her back to the convent. She soon joined her there, posing as a nun. Twenty other Jewish children were hidden in the convent. Augusta turned inward, however, and did not make friends with them. When she was nine years old, Augusta's tonsils had to be removed. The nuns could not take her to the hospital for fear that she would be denounced as a Jew. They removed her tonsils and adenoids themselves, without anesthesia.

Augusta and her mother remained in the convent until liberation. In April 1945, while walking alone down a road, Augusta saw approaching soldiers. Eleven year-old Augusta fainted when she realized that the soldiers were American, and that she was free. She eventually learned that her father had been taken to the Birkenau concentration camp and murdered there.

Ebi Gruenblatt

 

Born May 1,1927 in Nyirmihalydi, Hungary

Ebi, the daughter of Morris and Margit Gruenblatt, was born in Nyirmihalydi, Hungary. Her father was the manager of a large rural estate. The youngest of four children, Ebi had three brothers who adored her. Her family enjoyed a comfortable, affluent life, and Mr. Gruenblatt was widely known and well-respected.

The Germans occupied Hungary in March 1944. Before Ebi's seventeenth birthday, the Nazis arrested her family, along with other Jews in the area, and interned them in the local synagogue without food or water. After two weeks of deprivation and forced marches through the countryside, they reached the city of Nyiregyhaza, where they were herded into a closed-off ghetto. Lacking work and the means to earn a living, the Gruenblatts were in danger of starving to death. Christian friends helped by smuggling food into the ghetto. Ebi and her family reported for "resettlement" in mid-May. Shoved into cattle cars, travelling under conditions that barely sustained human life, they arrived in Auschwitz five days later.

In June, Ebi and her mother, passing as sisters, were sent to the Plaszow labor camp near Cracow. Filled with constant fear, Ebi and her mother were put to work moving heavy rocks from one location to another. They were being worked to death. In late September 1944, Ebi and her mother were brought back to Auschwitz. They were now sent to Augsburg, Germany, to work in the K.U.K.A. Ammunition Factory. Soon after, the area was heavily bombed by the Allies, and they were evacuated, first to Dachau, and then to a work camp near Muehldorf. Since she knew German, Ebi was given work as a registrar. When the Allies began bombing Muehldorf at the end of April 1945, Ebi and her mother, along with other inmates, were packed into cattle cars. The Germans palnned to take them to the Alps and murder them. The tracks were almpst completely destroyed and the train could not get far. Allied planes strafed the train while the prisoners took refuge under the boxcars. Ebi, her mother, and others escaped, but the Germans hunted them down and returned them to the train. Allied soldiers finally arrived on the scene and liberated them. Ebi celebrated her eighteenth birthday as a free human being.

Samuel Hiller

 

Born 1941 in Cracow, Poland

Samuel, the son of Cesia and David Hiller, was born just before the Germans forced the Jews of Cracow into a closed-off ghetto.

Before the war, Samuel's mother was a saleslady, and his father was a merchant. They lived in Cracow, a large industrial city where Jewish cultural and social life had flourished between the two world wars. By 1939, Cracow, the third largest city in Poland, had 60,000 Jewish citizens.

Cracow was occupied by the Germans on September 6, 1939. The Germans immediately began persecuting the Jews. Jewish property was confiscated and several synagogues were burned down. By March 1941, approximately 40,000 Jews had been expelled to neighboring towns and their remaining property was seized. At the same time, a closed-off ghetto was established. The worst problems included overcrowding, hunger, and poor sanitary conditions. The population was impoverished, and the Germans set up several factories in the ghetto to exploit the cheap manpower in the ghetto. Many Jews died in the streets from starvation, disease, and exposure.

At the end of May 1942, the Germans began deporting Jews from the ghetto to the death camps. At the end of March 1943, Samuel's mother received word that the ghetto was to be emptied and all its inhabitants murdered. Samuel's mother escaped from the ghetto, and arranged for a Christian woman to care for her two year-old son. Unable to bear not seeing her child, Samuel's mother left her hiding place to visit him. On one visit, she was recognized as a Jewess and was shot on the spot by the Gestapo. Samuel's father died in Auschwitz death camp in 1944.

After liberation in 1945, Samuel's aunt claimed the four year-old child, and raised him as her own.

Bronislaw Honig

 

Born October 8, 1935 in Cracow, Poland

Bronislaw, the son of Rose and David Honig, was four years old when the Germans occupied Cracow. His father had been a salesman in a hardware store, and his mother worked as a dressmaker. His grandmother stayed home to care for him. Bronislaw was a bright, happy little boy; he was good-looking and well-mannered. The Honigs lived in Cracow, a large industrial city. Jewish cultural and social life flourished there between the two world wars. By 1939, Cracow, the third largest city in Poland, had 60,000 Jewish citizens.

Cracow was occupied by the Germans on September 6, 1939. They immediately began to persecute the Jews. Jewish property was looted and several synagogues were burned down. By March 1941, approximately 40,000 Jews were expelled to neighboring towns and their property was confiscated. At the same time, a sealed-off ghetto was established. The worst problems included overcrowding, hunger, and poor sanitary conditions. The population was impoverished, and the Germans set up several factories in the ghetto, where people were forced into slave labor. Many Jews died in the streets from starvation, disease, and exposure.

In May 1942, the Germans began rounding up Cracow's Jews and deporting them to the Belzec death camp. Many strong and healthy Jews were sent to work in the Plaszow slave labor camp. Bronislaw's parents were sent to Plaszow in January 1943, but they arranged for Bronislaw to stay with a friendly Jewish policeman. Mr. Honig was forced to work in a warehouse outside the camp. When the ghetto was about to be emptied, the policeman sent him a message. Bronislaw's father smuggled himself out of the camp and back into the ghetto at night. He could hear shots being fired all around him. He took Bronislaw back into Plaszow with him, hidden in a suitcase, piled onto a cart filled with clothes left behind by the deported ghetto residents. A fews day later, after another child was discovered living in the camp and shot, Mr. Honig desperately sought a way to get Bronislaw to safety. A young Christian woman who worked with him in the warehouse offered to take the child. Bronislaw was smuggled out in a backpack to the woman, who waited outside the camp. Seven year-old Bronislaw and the young woman were betrayed to the Germans by her stepfather. They were both arrested and murdered.

Alexander Hornemann

 

Born May 31, 1936 in Eindhoven, Holland

Alexander, the son of Philip and Elizabeth Hornemann, was born in Eindhoven, Holland, on May 31, 1936. His father, an executive with the Philips Corporation, provided a comfortable living for his family.

When the Germans occupied Holland in May 1940, Alexander was four years old. The Nazis immediately instituted harsh anti-Jewish measures. Alexander's family was temporarily exempted from many of the restrictions because of his father's position with the Philips Corporation. After the Germans began deporting Jews to death camps, the Philips Corporation set up a special section for its Jewish employees.

On August 18, 1943, German troops surrounded the Philips plant in Eindhoven, and arrested all the Jews. Alexander's father and the rest of the Jewish employees were sent to Vught, a Dutch concentration camp, where they were put to work in a Philips operation that employed over 3,000 of the prisoners. The Philips workers received extra rations and were given the special privilege of living together with their wives and children. When a Philips Corporation representative told Alexander's mother that the company could guarantee her family's safety only if she joined her husband in the camp, she felt that she had no choice but to go.

On June 3, 1944, the Hornemanns were deported to the Birkenau death camp in Poland. Alexander and his brother remained with their mother and were sent to the women's barracks. Conditions in the camp were horrendous. There was little food, and disease was rampant. Alexander's mother contracted typhoid fever three months after their arrival, and died soon after. A few days after their mother's death, Alexander and his brother, along with 20 other Jewish children, were chosen to be used in horrific medical experiments. In the fall of 1944, the children were transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp. The children were injected with tuberculosis cultures and became extremely ill.

On April 20, 1945, when the British were less than three miles from the camp, the sick children were put into a truck and brought to a school in Hamburg. They were injected with morphine and hanged. Alexander was eight years old.

Eduard Hornemann

 

Born 1932 in Eindhoven, Holland

Eduard, the son of Philip and Elizabeth Hornemann, was born in Eindhoven, Holland, in 1932. His father, an executive with the Philips Corporation, provided a comfortable living for his family.

When the Germans occupied Holland in May 1940, Eduard was an eight year-old schoolboy. The Nazis immediately instituted harsh anti-Jewish measures. Eduard's family was temporarily exempted from many of the restrictions because of his father's position with the Philips Corporation. After the Germans began deporting Jews to death camps, the Philips Corporation set up a special section for its Jewish employees.

On August 18, 1943, German troops surrounded the Philips plant in Eindhoven, and arrested all the Jews. Eduard's father and the rest of the Jewish employees were sent to Vught, a Dutch concentration camp, where they were put to work in a Philips operation that employed over 3,000 of the prisoners. The Philips workers received extra rations and were given the special privilege of living with their wives and children. When a Philips Corporation representative told Eduard's mother that the company could guarantee her family's safety only if she joined her husband in the camp, she felt that she had no choice but to go.

On June 3, 1944, the Hornemanns were deported to the Birkenau death camp in Poland. Eduard and his brother remained with their mother and were sent to the women's barracks. Conditions in the camp were horrendous. There was little food, and disease was rampant. Eduard's mother contracted typhoid fever three months after their arrival, and died soon after. A few days after their mother's death, Eduard and his brother, along with 20 other Jewish children, were chosen to be used in medical experiments. In the fall of 1944, the children were transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp. The children were injected with tuberculosis cultures and became extremely ill.

On April 20, 1945, when the British were less than three miles from the camp, the sick children were put into a truck and brought to a school in Hamburg. They were injected with morphine and hanged. Eduard was twelve years old.

Oswald Kernberg

 

Born October 19, 1929 in Vienna, Austria

Oswald, the son of Herman and Frieda Kernberg, was a nine year-old schoolboy when the Germans annexed Austria in 1938. His father was a manufacturer of knitwear, sweaters, and dresses, and made a comfortable living for his family. Oswald and his older brother Fritz lived with their parents in Vienna, Austria, a glittering, sophisticated city, where the Jewish citizens were highly assimilated into the general cultural and civic life.

With the Nazi annexation, all antisemitic legislation passed in Germany automatically applied to Austria. Jewish citizens were barred from most professions and from attending public schools. Jewish businesses were confiscated, and many families became impoverished. Oswald's parents tried to obtain visas to leave the country, but they were unsuccessful. They heard of special children's transports out of Austria, and tried to get their two sons on one. Fritz, thirteen years old, was deemed too old, but ten year-old Oswald was sent to France.

Oswald lived in various children's homes for the next two and a half years. He lived with other children in similar straits. When the Germans occupied Paris in 1940, Oswald was sent to a home in unoccupied France.

In July 1941, Oswald was chosen to join a transport of 100 children who were sent to the United States. Most of the children who were left behind were murdered by the Germans. Soon after his thirteenth birthday, Oswald received a letter written by his parents, on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah. He was never to hear from them again. They were deported, together with Oswald's older brother, Fritz, to Lublin, Poland, where they were murdered.

Lilly Klein

 


Born September 29, 1927 in Mateszalka, Hungary

Lilly, the daughter of Sara and Sandor Klein, lived with her mother and seven siblings, in the city of Debrecen, Hungary. When the Germans invaded Hungary in March 1944, Lilly was a seventeen year-old student.

Hungary was a staunch ally of Nazi Germany. As such, the Germans did not, at first, invade the country, but urged the government to deport its Jews to concentration camps. The Hungarian government was not willing to send its Jewish citizens to their deaths, but did pass many discriminatory laws against them. Young men were sent to forced labor camps. Lilly was able to continue her studies at the local Jewish high school until her seventeenth year.

By 1943, the Hungarian government realized that their German ally was losing the war. Hungary, therefore, tried to break its alliance with Germany. In a fit of rage, Hitler ordered his armies into Hungary. In 1944, German troops occupied the entire country, and with the help of Hungarian collaborators, began deporting local Jews to concentration camps.

Lilly and her family were rounded up and herded into a sealed-off ghetto where they were kept for two months. The Germans began sending the Jewish residents of Debrecen to the Auschwitz death camp. Towards the end of June, Lilly was put on a train going to Auschwitz. The train could not get through, because the tracks had been bombed in allied air raids. The train was instead diverted to the Strasshoff concentration camp in Austria. There, Lilly was forced to work to the point of total exhaustion. Food was scarce, and those who couldn't work were murdered.

When the camp was liberated in April 1945, eighteen year-old Lilly was barely alive.

Stella Klingerova

 

Born December 14, 1927 in Prague, Czechoslovakia

Stella, the daughter of Gustav and Marie Klinger, was an eleven year-old schoolgirl when the Germans occupied Prague, Czechoslovakia, in March 1939. Her father was a businessman, and had three older children from a previous marriage. Stella's mother stayed home and cared for her.

Prague was a large, cosmopolitan city, and was home to one of the oldest and most revered Jewish communities in Europe. Jews contributed greatly to the economic progress of the city and played a key role in its rich cultural life.

After the German occupation, various antisemitic measures were passed, prohibiting Jews from practicing their professions or taking part in normal civic life. Property was confiscated, and Jews were prevented from participating in religious, cultural or any other form of public activity. They could not, for example, attend public schools or use public transportation.

From October 1941 to March 1945, the Jews of Prague were deported by the Germans to concentration camps.

In early 1942, Stella and her parents were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Conditions in the ghetto were horrible. There was terrible overcrowding, poor nutrition, and antiquated, limited sanitary facilities. Typhus-carrying vermin infested the ghetto. There were daily "selections," and those on the list were deported to the Auschwitz or Treblinka death camps.

Stella and her parents were "selected" in April 1942. They were deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Upon their arrival they were taken to the gas chambers and murdered. Stella was fourteen years old.

Georges Andre Kohn

 

Born April 23, 1932 in Paris, France

Georges Kohn, the youngest of four children, grew up in Paris, France. His father, Armand Kohn, was a relative of the banker, Rothschild, and the director of the Baron de Rothschild Hospital in Paris, the largest Jewish hospital in France. Georges was an eight year-old schoolboy when the Germans occupied paris in June 1940. His family was wealthy and close-knit. Because of his father's connections and position, his family was exempted from the harsh restrictions placed upon the Jews of Paris under German rule.

The Germans began deporting the Jews of France to death camps in the summer of 1942. Georges's father hid many Jews in his hospital on the pretense that they were seriously ill. The head of the secret police, Alois Brunner, had frequently visited the hospital, and Georges's father counted on their personal relationship to protect his family from deportation. During the last week of the German occupation of Paris, Brunner himself came to Georges's home and arrested the family. Less than one month later, twelve year-old Georges, his grandmother, mother, father, his older sisters, Rose-Marie and Antoinette, and his eighteen year-old brother, Philippe, were put on a train to be deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Three days after the train began moving, Rose-Marie and Philippe broke the bars of the freight car's small window and jumped out. They managed to avoid capture. When the train arrived at Buchenwald, the family was separated. Georges and his grandmother were sent to the Auschwitz death camp.

At the selection in Auschwitz, Georges was sent to a special barracks. The 20 Jewish children in this barracks were to be used in horrific medical experiments. For this reason, the barracks was heated and the children were provided with decent food. The staff sang the children songs, taught them games, and distracted them from the horrible smells of the crematorium. Most of the children spoke only Polish, but Georges found one child who spoke French and they became close friends.

In November 1944, the children were transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg, Germany. Soon after their arrival, Georges and the rest of the children were injected with tuberculosis cultures and became extremely ill. On April 20, 1945, when the British were less than three miles from the camp, all 20 children were brought to a school in Hamburg. The children were injected with morphine and murdered.

Cary Krell

 

Born January 27, 1936 in Vienna, Austria

Cary, the daughter of Diana (Rosenzweig) and Willi Krell, was born in Vienna, Austria. Her father was the managing director of a knitting factory. Cary's parents were born in an area of Poland that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In April 1938, after Germany annexed Austria, Cary's father moved his family back to Poland, where he had been offered a job as a bookkeeper in the town of Boryslaw.

The Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 1939 called for the eventual division of Poland along the San and Bug Rivers. Cary and the rest of the Jews living in Boryslaw were, at first, spared the full force of German anti-Jewish measures that began with the German invasion of Poland, because their town lay within the Soviet administered area.

The Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, when Cary was five and a half years old. Right behind the invading German forces were the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile murder squads. At first, many Jews in the Boryslaw area were needed as a labor force to secure the raw materials Germany so desperately needed. Nevertheless, the Jews were eliminated in stages through various massacres and deportations to death camps. Cary's father worked in the Jewish administration in Boryslaw. He and his family were deported with the last Jews of the town in the summer of 1944. They were transported to the Plaszow concentration camp.

On October 15, 1944, Cary and her parents were shipped to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. There, her mother was taken away and sent to Auschwitz where she was immediately murdered. Mr. Krell smuggled Cary into the men's barracks dressed as a boy. She stood at roll-call every morning with her father even when they were sent later to Auschwitz. One day, a boy noticed Cary's odd way of going to the bathroom and revealed her secret. She was separated from her father and sent to a women's barracks. They had stopped the gassings in Auschwitz at this point, but it was dead winter. There was little food, and horrendous sanitary conditions spread disease everywhere. Mr. Krell joined every work detail he could in order to pass by Cary's barracks and get a glimpse of her. Cary, weakened by hunger, died of typhus on January 6, 1945, a few weeks before her ninth birthday and liberation.

Alfred Kristeller

 

Born October 7, 1937 in Amsterdam, Holland

Alfred, the son of Ilse (Gomperts) and Adolph Kristeller, was two years old when the Germans invaded Holland. The Kristellers had moved in 1933 to Amsterdam from Duesseldorf, Germany, to escape living under Nazi oppression. Alfred's father worked for the Deutsche Bank in Amsterdam.

Before the German occupation, life was comfortable for Alfred and his parents. Amsterdam was a large, cosmopolitan city with a substantial, assimilated, Jewish population. Jews were found in all occupations and contributed to the economic, cultural and social life of the city. Jews were considered as equals by their non-Jewish fellow citizens.

With the occupation, the Germans enacted harsh antisemitic measures. Jewish businesses and bank accounts were confiscated and Jews were barred from most professions. In addition, Jews were excluded from public schools and universities. When the Nazis began perpetrating acts of violence against the Jews, the Dutch people were outraged. Large-scale strikes were organized in protest. They were soon crushed by the Germans. The Jews of Amsterdam were forced to live in sealed-off ghettos, and after May 1942 they were forced to wear the yellow star. By the end of 1942, approximately 38,500 Jews had been deported from Holland to death camps in Poland. Dutch Christians made thousands of heroic efforts to save Jews and hide them, but most were caught by the Nazis.

Alfred and his parents wre transported to the Sobibor death camp near Lublin, Poland. As soon as they stepped off the overcrowded, sealed cattle cars in which they were forced to travel, they were taken to the gas chambers and murdered. Alfred was five years old.

Liane Krochmal

 

Born July 25, 1937 in Vienna, Austria

The daughter of Jacob and Amalie Krochmal, Liane was only a baby when Austria lost its independence and became part of Nazi Germany. Vienna had been home to some 175,000 Jews and was one of the world's most important Jewish cultural centers. But Vienna also had a reputation as a city in which antisemitism flourished. When the Germans took over in March 1938, they found many Austrians willing to participate in the persecution of the Jews.

Seeing no hope under the Nazis, the Krochmal family fled to France. From France they hoped to eventually receive permission to enter the United States. Liane had an uncle living in New York who was willing to guarantee the support of the entire family.

Despite her uncle's guarantee, the U.S. State Department refused the Krochmals permission to come to the United States. Soon thereafter, Liane's parents and older brother, Siegfried, eleven years old, were arrested by the French police and handed over to the Germans. They were sent to a transit camp, where Siegfried died. Liane's parents were eventually deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

Liane, who was five, and her seven year-old sister Renate, were sent to live in the children's home at Izieu. On April 6, 1944, the home was raided and the children were shipped to Auschwitz. They were murdered in the gas chambers upon their arrival.

The German officer who ordered the despicable raid on the children's home was Klaus Barbie. Barbie escaped punishment after the war by agreeing to work as a spy for the United States, and it was only many years later that the scandal was uncovered. Barbie was eventually sent back to France for trial, where on July 4, 1987, he was convicted of "crimes against humanity" and sentenced to life in prison.

The Krochmals never lived to see Barbie brought to trial. They were murdered by the Nazis, because no country would take them. Liane was only seven years old when she died.

Renate Krochmal

 

Born September 3, 1935 in Vienna, Austria

The daughter of Jacob and Amalie Krochmal, Renate was only two and a half years old when Austria lost its independence and became part of Nazi Germany. Vienna had been home to some 175,000 Jews and was one of the world's most important Jewish cultural centers. But Vienna was also a city in which antisemitism flourished. When the Germans took over in March 1938, they found many Austrians willing to participate in the persecution of the Jews.

Seeing no hope under the Nazis, the Krochmal family escaped to France. From France they hoped to eventually receive permission to enter the United States. Renate had an uncle living in New York who was willing to guarantee the support of the entire family.

Despite the guarantee, the U.S. State Department refused the Krochmals permission to come to the United States. Soon after, on September 16, 1942, Renate's parents and older brother, Siegfried, eleven years old, were arrested by the French police and handed over to the Germans. They were sent to a transit camp, where Siegfried died. Renate's parents were eventually deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

Renate, who was seven, and her five year-old sister Liane, were sent to live in the children's home at Izieu. On April 6, 1944, the home was raided and the children were shipped to Auschwitz. They were murdered in the gas chambers upon their arrival.

The German officer who ordered the despicable raid on the children's home was Klaus Barbie. Barbie escaped punishment after the war by agreeing to work as a spy for the United States, and it was only many years later that the scandal was uncovered. Barbie was eventually sent back to France for trial, where on July 4, 1987, he was convicted of "crimes against humanity" and sentenced to life in prison.

The Krochmals never lived to see Barbie brought to trial. They were murdered by the Nazis, because no country would take them.

Renate was only eight years old.

Agnes Lebovics

 

Born April 13, 1939 in Chust, Czechoslovakia

Agnes, the oldest daughter of Mor and Marketa Lebovics, was an infant when Hungary took over the part of Czechoslovakia in which she lived. Her father came from a family of wealthy livestock dealers, and he worked in the family business. Her mother's father owned a flourishing print shop. The Hungarians immediately began oppressing the Jews of Chust. Agnes's father was sent to work in a forced-labor camp in Hungary. He was, however, allowed home for visits. Agnes's younger sister, Eva, was born two years later. Soon after Eva's birth, harsh economic and social restrictions were imposed upon the Jewish population, and life became even more difficult for Agnes and her family.

In early 1944, the Germans occupied Chust and immediately increased the persecution of the Jewish population. A German soldier even tried to pull Agnes's earrings from her ears.

In March 1944, Agnes, her sister Eva, and her mother were forced to leave their home and live in a sealed-off, overcrowded ghetto along with over 10,000 Jews from the surrounding area. They were forced to leave their possessions, including the family dog, Boombi, behind. They were allowed to move in with her mother's parents, whose apartment was in the ghetto area. Agnes and Eva cried for their big white dog and could not understand why they were not allowed to bring him with them.

On May 23, 1944, the Lebovics family was forced into sealed, overcrowded cattle cars. They had no food, water or sanitary facilities, and they did not know where they were going. After three days and two nights, the train arrived at the Auschwitz death camp. The women were sen to stand in line. Agnes and Eva held their mother's hand. A Polish "kapo" came over to Agnes's mother and told her that if she wanted her children to live, she should give them to their grandmother and say that they were not hers. She would then go to another line of people chosen to work. By working, Agnes's mother would be able to provide her children with food. Mrs. Lebovics called over to her father, who stood in another line with the men, and asked him what to do. Her father told her to give the children to her mother, and move into the other line. When Agnes and Eva cried out for her and called her name, she returned to them, but was beaten back into line by a German soldier. Five year-old Agnes, her sister, her grandmother and great-grandmother were taken straight to the gas chamber where they were murdered.

Assia Levinski

 

Born 1928 in Kazlu-Ruda, Lithuania

Assia, the daughter of Leon and Chaja Levinski, lived with her parents and younger brother Monia in a small village in Lithuania. Assia's father was a lumber dealer. Assia was a member of a large, loving, close-knit extended family. Her grandparents lived on a large farm a few miles outside of town. Both of her parents had attended high school in Marijampole, the closest city. Marijampole's 2,545 Jews earned their livelihood from trading in agricultural produce and from small industry. The Jews of Marijampole established the first Hebrew high school in Lithuania. A small farm which trained youth interested in pioneering in Palestine was established outside the city.

Assia was a thirteen year-old schoolgirl in the summer of 1941, when the Germans invaded Lithuania. Assia and her family were forced to leave their home. Along with all the Jews of the surrounding area, they were confined to an overcrowded, sealed-off ghetto in Marijampole. Over 7,000 people endured great hardship. There was inadequate food, medicine, and sanitation.

At the beginning of September 1941,Jews were forced to leave the ghetto. In groups of 500, they were marched by members the Einsatzgruppen, special mobile killing squads, and their Lithuanian collaborators, a few miles outside the city. Anyone trying to escape was immediately shot. Forced to stand along already prepared ditches, they were massacred. Assia was thirteen years old.

Monia Levinski

 

Born 1931 in Kazlu-Ruda, Lithuania

Monia, the son of Leon and Chaja Levinski, lived along with his parents and his older sister Assia in a small village in Lithuania. Monia's father was a lumber dealer. Monia was a member of a large, loving, close-knit extended family. His grandparents lived on a large farm a few miles outside of town. Both of his parents had attended high school in Marijampole, the closest city. Marijampole's 2,545 Jews earned their livelihood from trading in agricultural produce and from small industry. The Jews of Marijampole established the first Hebrew high school in Lithuania. A small farm which trained youth interested in pioneering in Palestine was established outside the city.

Monia was a ten year-old schoolboy in the summer of 1941, when the Germans invaded Lithuania. Monia and his family were forced to leave their home. Along with all the Jews of the surrounding area, they were confined to an overcrowded, sealed-off ghetto in Marijampole. Over 7,000 people endured great hardship. There was inadequate food, medicine, and sanitation.

At the beginning of September 1941, the ghetto was emptied. Jews, in groups of 500, were marched a few miles out of the city by members of German mobile killing squads, the Einsatzgruppen, and their Lithuanian collaborators. Anyone trying to escape was immediately shot. Forced to stand along already prepared ditches, they were massacred. Monia was ten years old.

Tsila Marcus

 

Born July 14, 1939 in Rovno, Poland

Tsila, the younger daughter of Batya (Fuchs) and Shchane Marcus, was born in Rovno, Poland. Her mother had moved there from Koretz after her marriage. The Germans invaded eastern Poland in June 1941, when Tsila was two years old.

Tsila's father, along with 8,000 other Jews from Rovno, was murdered by the Germans. The remaining Jews were locked into a ghetto where many died from starvation and disease. Tsila's sister, Bella, was murdered when the Nazis raided her apartment. Soon after, the Germans rounded up healthy young women and forced them to work as servants. Tsila's mother was assigned to work for the mayor. There, she became acquainted with a German who worked as a bookkeeper. One day, he confided that he would do everything he could to save her life. In early July 1942, Tsila's mother was told to go to her German friend's home and hide there, as the Nazis were planning to murder the remaining Jews of the city. Mass graves had already been prepared in a nearby forest. Mrs. Marcus and her daughter escaped from the city dressed as Polish peasants. Tsila and her mother walked barefoot, almost 50 miles, to Koretz, where they had relatives. After they smuggled themselves into the sealed-off ghetto, they discovered that most of Tsila's relatives, including her grandmother and aunt, had already been murdered. Two days before the Koretz ghetto was to be emptied and its residents murdered, Tsila's mother received a letter from her German friend telling her to leave the city. She immediately warned the rest of the ghetto. Many tried to escape, but they were caught and murdered.

Tsila and her mother dressed themselves again as Polish peasants and escaped to the forest. Tsila's mother eventually joined the partisans (the underground resistance fighters). Tsila was brought to live with a peasant, since it was determined that being only four years old she was too young to live in the forest. The peasant, fearing for his own life, abandoned the small child in the forest. Tsila lived in the forest for six weeks. The days and nights were very cold. She lived on flowers and grasses, and hid with every noise. Found by partisans, she was reunited with her mother. Tsila looked like a wild animal. Moss grew in her hair and she had become mute. Tsila and her mother stayed with the partisans until liberation. Tsila, who was only five years old, helped them find food in the forest when they were cut off from their supply.

Lida Mordehay

 

Born June 29, 1936 in Ihtiman, Bulgaria

Lida, the daughter of Mina (Masiach) and Behor Mordehay, was five years old when Bulgaria allied itself with Nazi Germany. She had an older brother, Nissim, who was nine. Lida's family owned a large store that sold textiles and clothing. They lived in the largest building in the city. It was so large that they rented out the first floor to the police department. The town jail was even located in the basement. Lida's family was well-off. Each child had a nanny, and there were other servants to do the laundry and cleaning. The family was well-respected by their non-Jewish neighbors, and all of Lida's playmates were non-Jews.

Because there were so few Jews in Ihtiman, Lida's family did not feel the brunt of the harsh anti-Jewish measures that were passed by the Bulgarian government in 1941. Life went on much as before. His parents were forced to wear the yellow star required by the government, but Lida and her brother were exempt from wearing it because they were children. However, Lida and her brother were not permitted to attend public school during the 1942-43 school year because they were Jews. Their cousin tutored them at home.

In 1943, the Germans began pressing their Bulgarian allies to deport their Jews to concentration camps in Poland. Over 20,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz from Macedonia and Thrace, areas that had recently been annexed by Bulgaria. The Jews of Old Bulgaria were to be next. The King of Bulgaria ordered all plans for deportations of Bulgaria's Jews stopped. He was, however, unable to prevent the expulsion to the countryside of Sofia's 20,000 Jews. From there, they were to be transported by ship to "the East." The people of Bulgaria protested this action. Lida's many relatives from Sofia were given shelter in her home. The Bulgarian people began large-scale protests against the treatment of the Jews. Instead of arousing antisemitism, the expelled Jews won the sympathy of the peasants. In November 1943, a new cabinet permitted the Jews of Sofia to return to their homes. By January 1944, massive allied bombing of Bulgaria began, and plans to deport the Jews were completely shelved. The Jews of Old Bulgaria were saved due to the courageous defiance of the King of Bulgaria and his people.

Nissim Mordehay

 

Born January 8, 1932 in Ihtiman, Bulgaria

Nissim, the son of Mina (Masiach) and Behor Mordehay, was nine years old when Bulgaria allied itself with Germany. He had a younger sister, Lida who was five. Nissim's family owned a large store that sold textiles and clothing. They lived in the largest building in the city. It was so large that they rented out the first floor to the police department. The town jail was even located in their basement. The family was quite well-off. Each child had a nanny, and there were other servants to do the laundry and cleaning. The family was well-respected by their non-Jewish neighbors, and all of Nissim's playmates were non-Jews.

Because there were so few Jews in Ihtiman, Nissim's family did not feel the brunt of the harsh anti-Jewish measures passed by the Bulgarian government in 1941. Life went on much as before. His parents were forced to wear the yellow star required by the government, but Nissim and his sister were exempt from wearing it because they were children. However, Nissim and Lida were not permitted to attend public school during the 1942-43 school year, because they were Jews. Their cousin tutored them at home.

In 1943, the Germans began pressing their Bulgarian allies to deport their Jews to concentration camps in Poland. Over 20,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz from Macedonia and Thrace, areas that had recently been annexed to Bulgaria. The Jews of Old Bulgaria were to be next. The King of Bulgaria ordered all plans for deportations of Bulgaria's Jews stopped. He was, however, unable to prevent the expulsion to the countryside of Sofia's 20,000 Jews. From there, they were to be transported by ship to "the East." The people of Bulgaria protested this action. Nissim's many relatives from Sofia were given shelter in his home. The Bulgarian people began large-scale protests against the treatment of the Jews. Instead of arousing antisemitism, the expelled Jews won the sympathy of the peasants. By January 1944, massive allied bombing of Bulgaria began, and plans to deport the Jews were completely shelved. The Jews of Old Bulgaria were saved due to the courageous defiance of the King of Bulgaria and his people.

Jacqueline Morganstern

 

Born 1932 in Czernowitz, Rumania

Jacqueline was the daughter of Suzanne and Karl Morganstern. She moved to Paris with her parents as a tiny child to escape the oppressive antisemitism of Rumania. Jacqueline's father and uncle owned a beauty shop in the center of the city. When the Germans occupied Paris in 1940, Jacqueline was an eight year-old schoolgirl. Her parents were forced to give their shop to a non-Jewish Frenchman.

Jacqueline and her parents fled to Marseilles, a city in southern France not occupied by the Germans. They carried forged papers identifying them as non-Jews. They were discovered, however, and denounced to the Gestapo.

On June 20, 1944, Jacqueline and her parents were deported to the Auschwitz death camp. For the time being, Jacqueline and her parents were spared. Jacqueline and her mother were sent to the women's camp. Jacqueline's mother became weak because she gave most of her food to her daughter. After she fell ill, her mother was murdered in the gas chamber.

Upon her mother's death, Jacqueline was sent to a special children's barracks. The 20 children in these barracks were being held for use in experiments. The barracks were heated and the children were provided with decent food. The staff sang songs to the children, taught them games and distracted them from the horrible smells of the crematoria. Most of the children spoke only Polish, but Jacqueline found one child who spoke French, and they became close friends.

In the fall of 1944, Dr. Kurt Heissmeyer, the doctor who had requested the children for experimentation, had them transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp. Jacqueline and the rest of the children were injected with tuberculosis cultures. Shortly before the end of December 1944, they became extremely ill. In January 1945, Dr. Heissmeyer decided to operate on the children. He wanted to find out how their glands had reacted to the TB infection.

On April 20, 1945, when the British were less than three miles from the camp, all 20 children were brought to a school in Hamburg. They were injected with morphine and fell asleep. Thirteen year-old Jacqueline and her friends were then hanged one by one.

Ruth Moses

 

Born 1935 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Ruth was the only child of Berta and Hugo Moses. She lived in Frankfurt am Main, one of Europe's most important Jewish centers. Frankfurt's Jewish community participated in all aspects of the city's social and cultural life. Jewish citizens played an important role in the city's commerce and industry. In 1933, the city even had a Jewish mayor, Ludwig Landmann.

Following the Nazi rise to power on January 30, 1933, Frankfurt's Jews were subjected to physical assaults and to a general boycott of Jewish businesses, even before any official laws were enacted. All public institutions dismissed Jews from their staffs - hospitals, courts, schools, universities, and institutions of culture and the arts. Economic conditions grew even worse after the passage of the "Nuremberg Laws" in 1935. Ruth was born in that year.

After October 1941, Jews were forbidden to leave Germany. The Nazis began rounding them up and sending them to ghettos in eastern Europe. Six year-old Ruth and her parents were deported to a sealed-off ghetto in the city of Riga, the capital of Latvia.

The Riga ghetto's previous residents, 30,000 local Jews, were murdered by the Nazis in November 1941, to make room for the newly arriving German Jews. Conditions in the ghetto were horrendous. The ghetto was plagued with little food, poor sanitation, and horrible overcrowding. Thousands of people died of starvation, disease, and exposure.

The ghetto was eventually emptied of its inhabitants. Most of the inhabitants were gassed to death in transport vans or were shot. Others were sent to labor camps, where they were worked to death. By December 1943, there were no Jews left in the Riga ghetto.

Nothing is known about Ruth's fate after she was sent to Riga. No trace has ever been found.

Magda Mozes

 

Born June 7, 1927 in Cluj, Rumania

 

Magda Mozes was born on June 7, 1927 in the northern Transylvanian town of Cluj. She was the only child of Gus and Bertha Mozes. At the time of Magda's birth, Cluj was part of Rumania, but in 1940 northern Transylvania was taken over by Hungary, an ally of Nazi Germany. Magda, a thirteen year-old schoolgirl at the time, found out overnight that she was no longer Rumanian, but Hungarian.

Hungary was a staunch ally of Nazi Germany. As such, the Germans did not invade the country, but urged the government to deport its Jews to concentration camps. The Hungarian government was not willing to send its Jewish citizens to their deaths, but passed many discriminatory laws against the Jewish population. Magda continued her studies at the local Jewish high school until her seventeenth year.

Realizing by 1943 that its German ally was losing the war, Hungary tried to break its alliance with Germany. In a fit of rage, Hitler ordered his armies into Hungary. In 1944, German troops occupied the entire country. With the help of Hungarian collaborators, the Germans began deporting local Jews to concentration camps. Magda and her family were rounded up and herded into a brickyard where they were kept for three weeks.

On June 6, 1944, they were deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Because Magda was a healthy seventeen year-old, she was not sent to the gas chambers, but was put to work as a slave laborer. When she attempted to stay with her mother, camp guards broke her shoulder and collar bone. Magda and others were transported to work camps in Germany, as the Germans were forced to retreat from eastern Europe. Near the very end of the war she was liberated at Meklenburg by allied soldiers. Magda returned to her home town, Cluj, on August 26, 1945, but could find no trace of her family. They had all been murdered by the Nazis.

Samuel Oliner

 

Born 1930 in Zyndranowa, Poland

Samuel, the son of Aron and Jaffa Oliner, grew up on his grandparents' farm in eastern Poland. His father owned some land in the area and ran a small general store. Samuel had an older brother and sister. Samuel's mother died when he was seven, and his father moved away and remarried, leaving Samuel with his maternal grandparents. When the Germans occupied Poland, Samuel was a nine year-old schoolboy. The Nazi occupation was harsh. The Germans immediately began brutalizing Jews. Jews were forced to wear the yellow star, their property was confiscated, and they were subjected to random brutality and murder. Ten year-old Samuel decided to live with his father, stepmother, young stepbrother and baby stepsister.

In July 1942, Jews living in rural villages were forced to leave their homes and move into sealed-off ghettos. Samuel and his family moved to Bobowa, a small town that was 80 percent Jewish. The ghetto was overcrowded, filled with disease-carrying vermin, had little sanitation, very little food, and no medicine. The Germans entered the ghetto at will, randomly brutalizing the residents and taking away the young men, girls, and skilled workers. Many died of starvation and disease. Samuel would often sneak out of the ghetto to bring food back to his starving family.

On August 14, 1942, the Germans rounded up all the remaining residents of the ghetto and murdered them in a nearby forest. Urged on by his stepmother, twelve year-old Samuel escaped into the countryside. After walking for two days, he found refuge with a friendly peasant woman who risked her life by teaching him how to pass as a non-Jew. Samuel was given a new name, different clothes, and was taught to read in Polish and recite the catechism. When he was ready, Samuel left her home to seek work in a village where he was not known. He found work tending cows on a farm. The Polish couple who lived there had moved from the city and rented the formerly Jewish-owned farm from the Germans. They knew little about farm work and needed help. Samuel lived there for three years. Constantly faced with the threat of discovery, Samuel carefully concealed his origins. In March 1945, the Russian army pushed the Germans out of the region. At first, fifteen year-old Samuel was afraid to reveal his true identity, but when other Jewish survivors came out of hiding, he left the farm and joined them. He hoped to find his family, but Samuel soon learned that he was the only survivor.

Naomi Posinova

 

Born January 4, 1932 in Prague, Czechoslovakia

Naomi Posinova was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia on January 4, 1932. She was an only child, part of a large, extended family. Her father, Max, was a hat-maker who also owned a plastics factory. Her mother, Rachel, was a housewife.

Prague was a large, urban city, and was home to one of Europe's oldest and most revered Jewish communities. Jews contributed greatly to the economic progress of the city and played a key role in its rich cultural life.

After the German army occupied Prague in March 1939, various antisemitic measures were enacted. Jews were barred from their professions; their property was confiscated; they were prohibited from participating in religious, cultural or any other form of public activity. They could not attend public school, use public transportation, or the telephone. From October 1941 to March 1945, the Germans deported 46,067 Jews from Prague to the death camps.

In August 1942, Naomi and her parents were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Naomi's father worked there in a cap factory and her mother worked in a children's home. Though children over the age of ten were forced to work, Naomi was somehow able to continue her education. Conditions in the camp were horrible. There was terrible overcrowding, lack of adequate nutrition, and limited primitive sanitary facilities. Typhus carrying vermin infested the camp. There were daily "selections," and those chosen were deported to the death camps at Auschwitz and Treblinka.

In late 1944 or early 1945, Naomi and her parents were "selected" for transport to Auschwitz. Soon after their arrival, Naomi and her mother were murdered in the gas chambers. Naomi was twelve years old.

Agnes Ringwald

 

Born November 17, 1935 in Pestszenterzsebet, Hungary

Agnes, the daughter of Eugene and Ilona (Roth) Ringwald, lived in the town of Pestszenterzsebet, a suburb of Budapest, Hungary. Agnes's father was a medical doctor. The town's 4,522 Jewish citizens were mostly laborers, but some were businessmen, lawyers, and doctors. A Jewish school had been established in 1922.

When Hungary allied itself with Germany, antisemitic measures were enacted, but the majority of the Jewish citizens were only vaguely aware of the large-scale destruction of the Jews elsewhere in Europe. Jews were considered important to Hungary's economic stability. Many Jewish men, however, were forced to join hard labor battalions and were treated harshly.

In March 1944, when Agnes was an eight year-old schoolgirl, the Germans invaded Hungary and immediately set into action their plan for the destruction of all Hungarian Jewry. Forced to wear the yellow star and herded into sealed-off ghettos, the Jews of Hungary refused to believe that they would be sent to concentration camps and to their deaths.

In July 1944, the 3,000 Jews remaining in Agnes's town were among the last to be deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

Eight and a half year-old Agnes and her mother were immediately taken to the gas chambers and murdered.

Victor Rona

 

Born December 26, 1928 in Satu-Mare, Rumania

Victor was born on December 26, 1928 in Satu-Mare, where he lived with his parents and his older brother Erwin. His father, Alexander Samuel Rona, had attended university in Budapest, and he was a professor in the State Commercial College in Satu-Mare. His mother, Magdalena (Balkany), was active in Jewish communal activities.

Jews comprised 20 percent of the population of Satu-Mare. They took an active role in the development of commerce and industry in the city, and were found in almost all professions.

When Hungary annexed this part of Rumania in 1940, it passed antisemitic measures barring Jews from various professions. Victor's father lost his job, but he became director of the Jewish High School, which was founded in 1941. Life for the Jews of Hungary became extremely difficult, but few felt that their lives were in danger.

As a high school student, Victor excelled in literature, music and sports. He won a medal in a fencing competition against a non-Jewish team, despite the prevailing antisemitic attitude of the period. He took piano lessons, and he spent hours working on his stamp collection. He was also active in several Jewish youth organizations, where he was well liked.

In March 1944, Germany invaded Hungary. Two months later, the Jews of Satu-Mare were suddenly forced by the Germans to live in a sealed-off ghetto. Deportations to death camps began almost immediately. Victor and his family were deported on May 30, 1944.

Strong and healthy, fifteen year-old Victor was chosen for forced labor instead of immediate death. From June 1944 until April 1945, he was sent to four different slave labor camps in Germany. Somehow he survived the horrors and terrible deprivations of the camps. He was liberated in April 1945.

Five days later, he died of a bayonet wound in his left arm that he had received in a labor camp two weeks earlier. He received no medical help.

Victor was sixteen years old when he died.

Frida Scheps

 

Born October 1936 in Paris, France

Frida Scheps was born in 1936 to a Russian-Jewish immigrant family living in Paris, France. Frida's father, an engineer by profession, wanted to move the family to Palestine. Shortly before the war, Mr. Scheps travelled to Jerusalem to pave the way for the move. While he was making the necessary arrangements, war broke out in Europe, and Frida and her mother were trapped in France.

In 1940, the Nazis invaded France and the persecution of the Jews of France began. At first, various laws restricting the rights of the French Jewish community were enacted. But by 1942, the Germans began rounding up Jews and shipping them to various death camps in Poland.

Seeking somehow to save her six year-old daughter, Mrs. Scheps placed Frida in a Catholic convent school at the Chateau de Beaujeu. Isolated from her past, Frida soon began to forget her Jewish roots. She soon became the best student in her class at catechism and asked to be baptized as a Catholic. Mrs. Scheps wrote to her daughter, begging her not to abandon her faith.

Frida received packages from her mother on a regular basis. One day, however, the packages stopped coming. Frida understood that the Germans had taken her mother away. In the middle of the night, Frida was haunted by dreams reminding her of her Jewish heritage. At the end of the war, nine year-old Frida left the convent school. Two years later, she was reunited with her father in Jerusalem.

Renya Sieger

 

Born October 10, 1936 in Cracow, Poland

Renya, the daughter of Josef and Mala (Reifer) Sieger, was born in Cracow, Poland. Cracow was a large industrial city. Between the two world wars, Jewish cultural and social life flourished in Cracow. By 1939, approximately 60,000 Jews lived in Cracow, Poland's third largest city.

Cracow was occupied by the Germans on September 6, 1939. Renya was not yet three years old when the Germans began persecuting Cracow's Jews. Jewish property was seized and several synagogues were burned down. By March 1941, approximately 40,000 Jews had been expelled to neighboring towns, their property confiscated. At the same time, a sealed-off ghetto was established. The worst problems were the result of overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions. The population was impoverished, and the Germans set up several factories to exploit the cheap labor in the ghetto. Thousands of Jews died in the streets from starvation, disease, and exposure. At the end of May 1942, the Germans began deporting Jews from the ghetto to death camps. By June 8, 1942, approximately 3,000 Jews were deported to the Belzec death camp; 300 had been shot on the spot.

Many strong and healthy Jews were sent to work in the Plaszow slave labor camp. In October 1943, approximately 7,000 Jews were deported to Belzec and Auschwitz. In addition, 600 Jews were shot on the spot. At this time, the Jews living in the old age home, the hospital, and the orphanage were all arrested and sent to death camps. The round ups continued until the end of March 1943 when the ghetto was emptied. Of the Jews sent to the Plaszow labor camp, only a few hundred survived.

Renya and her family disappeared without a trace.

Gabriele Silten

 

Born May 30, 1933 in Berlin, Germany

Gabriele, the daughter of Fritz and Ilse (Teppich) Silten, was born in Berlin, Germany. Berlin, a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city, was home to a highly assimilated Jewish community. Gabriele's father was a pharmacist and the Siltens had a comfortable life.

After Hitler came into power in Germany in 1933, life for Germany's Jews became increasingly difficult. Hitler's Nazi party passed various antisemitic measures stripping German Jews of their citizenship, cutting them off from all social interaction with non-Jews, and harshly restricting Jewish economic life. Jews were barred from most professions and the majority became impoverished. In 1938, Gabriele and her family fled to Holland. Settling in Amsterdam, Gabriele made friends with a girl her own age living in the same building. They attended kindergarten together, and Gabriele quickly learned Dutch.

The Nazis invaded Holland in May 1940, just before Gabriele's seventh birthday. Gabriele was no longer allowed to play with her non-Jewish friends. She had to attend a private school for Jewish children and wear the yellow star.

Arrested in a massive raid on June 20, 1943, Gabriele and her family were sent to the Westerbork transit camp. In January 1944, Gabriele and her parents were transported in cattle cars to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Conditions were horrible. The ghetto was extremely overcrowded and infested with typhus-spreading vermin. Gabriele was fortunate to be able to stay with her mother and father. Nearly everyone worked 10 hours a day, seven days a week. There was little food, and Gabriele often went hungry. Ten year-old Gabriele was put to work as a message carrier in the old-age home.

Prisoners at Theresienstadt were generally transported to other camps in Poland, where they were murdered. Gabriele and her parents were still in Theresienstadt when it was liberated on May 8, 1945. They were weak and in poor health.

Only 100 of the many thousands of Jewish children who passed through Theresienstadt survived the Holocaust. Gabriele was fortunate to be among them.

Greti Skala

 

Born August 10, 1935 in Secovce, Czechoslovakia

Greti, the daughter of Emery and Stefania (Bley), was three years old when the Germans occupied Czechoslovakia. Her father worked in the family hardware store. The Germans immediately began persecuting and brutalizing the Jewish residents of her town. When they confiscated her father's store, he lost his livelihood. Greti's father desperately searched for a way to survive.

Through a friend, he was able to obtain false baptism certificates, giving the family a new identity. They changed their last name to Skala and moved to Bratislava, the capital city of the region. The family lived as best as they could under wartime conditions. They constantly lived in fear that they would be betrayed. Greti began school and became the top studemt in her class. She even helped her Christian classmates with their religious lessons.

In early 1944, Hungary seemed to be a relatively safe haven. Greti's father obtained visas for Hungary. Soon after their arrival at a Hungarian hotel, the Germans occupied Hungary. The Skalas were recognized as Jews and denounced. Handed over to the Nazis, Greti and her parents were deported to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp in Germany.

Conditions in Ravensbrueck barely sustained life. The Germans were determined to stave their prisoners to death. Typhus-carrying vermin infested the entire camp. Eight year-old Greti and her mother managed to stay alive. In April 1945, as the Allies approached, Greti and her mother, along with thousands of sick and starving inmates, were evacuated from Ravensbrueck and forced to march westward. Many hundreds died of exhaustion, while others were shot. Some were even killed by allied bombs.

They arrived at Bergan-Belsen, a camp filled with dead and dying prisoners. In May 1945, the camp was liberated. Greti, who had contracted typhus in Bergen-Belsen, and her mother were sent home in trucks to Bratislava. Greti was immediately hospitalized. She soon died. Greti was only nine years old.

Mario Sonnino

 

Born May 31, 1941 in Rome, Italy

Mario, the son of Settimio and Ida Sonnino, was born in Rome in 1941. Jews had lived in Rome for over 20 centuries, dating back to the time of the Roman empire. They were fully integrated into Italian society, holding positions in nearly all professions, including the government and the military.

In November 1938, before Mario was born, Italy's dictator, Mussolini, passed various anti-Jewish measures under the prodding of his German allies. These laws caused an abrupt end to most jobs and to public education for the Jews of Italy. Jews were forcibly separated from their non-Jewish friends, colleagues and neighbors. Many were impoverished. Mario's parents struggled to make a living and cope with the drastic changes.

When the Germans occupied Rome in August 1943, Mario was two years old. He lived with his parents, his older brother Sandro, and his three year-old sister, Cesira.

Early on the rainy Saturday morning of October 16, 1943, Mario and his family were arrested in a surprise raid by the Germans. They had decided to round up and deport all Italy's Jews. Mario and his family, along with over 1,000 other Jews, were thrown into trucks and brought to the Military College across from the Vatican. They were kept there for two days, without beds or toilet facilities.

Soon after, they were locked into crowded freight trains. Conditions barely sustained life. There was little food or water. There were no sanitary facilities. They travelled like this for five days.

On October 23, 1943, the trains were finally unsealed. They had arrived at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. The sick and the weak, the elderly, and all young children along with their mothers, were told to clean up in the shower room after their long journey. They undressed and entered a long sealed room, which turned out to be a gas chamber. They were dead within minutes. Mario was two years old when he was murdered.

Oro Torres

 

Born 1931 in Salonika, Greece

Oro, the daughter of Eliau Mose and Mazeltov (Sasoon) Torres, was the youngest of five children. Her father owned a family-run clothing store.

They lived in Salonika, Greece, which was home to over 60,000 Jews. The Sephardic Jews of Salonika, descendants of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, had a strong and active Jewish community and a vibrant, rich cultural life.

When the Germans occupied Salonika, Oro was ten years old. Her older brothers had fought the Germans. After the Greek army was defeated, they made their way back to a drastically changed Salonika. Jews were forbidden to enter restaurants and had to give up their radios. Other anti-Jewish measures were enacted making life exceedingly difficult. Economic measures were decreed, and the Torres family had to surrender the keys of their store to the Germans. They had no means of earning a living, and they were quickly impoverished. About 20,000 Salonika Jews were near starvation or ill with typhus. In July 1942, the Germans decreed heavy labor conscription for Jewish men. Many perished in malaria-infested swamps. On December 6, 1942, the ancient Jewish cemetery was plundered and the tombstones used to line latrines and to pave streets. In March 1943, the Jews were forced to live in a sealed-off ghetto and wear the yellow star.

On April 10, 1943, when Oro was twelve years old, her house was surrounded by Germans. They came inside, shouting, punching, and kicking everyone. They forced Oro and her family to leave the house, allowing them to take only a few personal items. Oro's older brother carried her father, who had recently suffered a stroke and could not walk. They were marched along the streets with other Jews to a transit camp near the train station. The next morning they were shoved into sealed, overcrowded cattle cars. For the 80 people in each car, there was one barrel of olives, one barrel of water, and one barrel for sanitation. Each person received a loaf of bread. They set off for a journey into the unknown.

Almost one month later, they arrived at the Auschwitz death camp. Oro, her mother and sister were sent to a holding area in the Birkenau section of the camp. One week later they were murdered in the gas chambers. Oro was twelve years old.

Natus Weissblatt

 

Born 1926 in Warsaw, Poland

Natus, the son of Rena and Mark Weissblatt, was a thirteen year-old schoolboy when the Germans occupied Warsaw in September 1939. Warsaw was a large, cosmopolitan city, home to Europe's largest Jewish community. His father was one of the few Jews who was permitted to work for the Polish government. Natus's mother gave private Hebrew lessons, and his grandfather was highly involved in the Jewish community. They lived in an affluent area of Warsaw. Natus was an outstanding student. Part of a large, loving, and highly educated family, Natus had a comfortable, secure early childhood.

In October 1940, Natus and his family, along with all the other Jewish residents of the city, were forced to leave their homes and to live in a ghetto. On November 15, after an 8-foot wall was built around the area, the Jews of Warsaw were cut off from the rest of the world. Over 265,000 people were packed into apartments within 73 streets. That number would soon grow by another 200,000.

Lacking money and the means to earn it, most residents were quickly impoverished. Food, medicine and heat were inadequate. Thousands died from starvation, exposure and disease. Children often risked their lives to smuggle food into the ghetto so that their families could eat. Yet, amidst all the horror, schools and other cultural events were organized.

In July 1942, the Germans began rounding up and deporting ghetto residents in massive raids. Few were exempt. Packed like cattle into freight cars, they were sent to the nearby Treblinka death camp, where most were immediately taken to the gas chambers and murdered.

By September 1942, only 60,000 people, mostly young men and women, were left. They were the last remnants of their families and they resolved to fight the Germans. On Passover eve, April 19, 1943, the Germans began what they believed was to be the final round-up and deportation. Instead they were met with organized, armed resistance. The Germans began to systematically burn the buildings in order to force people out of hiding. Armed mostly with grenades and other incendiary devices, the young Jewish fighters fought the Germans, house by house, for almost a month. The Germans soon turned the ghetto into one great burning torch. On May 16, 1943, it was over.

Nothing is known of the fate of Natus and his family after they were forced into the ghetto and cut off from the world.

Doris Wohlfarth

 

Born October 28, 1937 in Amsterdam, Holland

Doris was born October 28, 1937 in Amsterdam, Holland. Her parents, Siegfried and Helene, had left their home in Frankfurt, Germany, three years earlier to escape persecution by the Nazis. Prior to that, Doris's father was an accountant working in the German courts, and her mother was the owner of a small mail order business. Doris's father lost his job in 1933 simply because he was Jewish. Realizing that things would only get worse, Siegfried and Helene decided to cross the border into Holland.

Holland accepted many refugees from Germany, and the Jews there enjoyed equal rights. But in 1940, the Nazis invaded the tiny country and immediately began persecuting its Jews. Fearing that the Germans would arrest them, Doris's parents began looking for someone to shelter their daughter. Knowing that they might never see Doris again, Siegfried and Helene tried to prepare their daughter for the separation by distancing themselves from her emotionally. With untold pain in their hearts, they stopped hugging and holding her. Doris was only three years old at the time.

With the help of the Dutch resistance, Doris's parents were able to place their child with a childless Dutch couple. Then they went into hiding. On Friday, August 25, 1944, the Gestapo located their hiding place and arrested them. Less than a month later, they were sent to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Doris's father was murdered there, but her mother was transferred to a slave-labor camp in Czechoslovakia. Doris's mother miraculously survived the Holocaust.

With the defeat of Nazi Germany and her liberation, Helene now began her trek back to Holland. Deathly ill and weighing only 70 pounds, she kept herself alive by hoping that the Germans had not found her little girl. When Helene finally located her daughter, Doris, now eight, she did not even recognize her mother.

Renate Wolff

 

Born October 19, 1933 in Hamburg, Germany

Renate, the older daughter of Georg and Lilli (Engers), lived with her family in Hamburg, Germany. Before the Nazi takeover, the Jews of Hamburg were prosperous and were well-integrated into the city's social and cultural life. They were prominent in most professions. Renate's father worked as a teacher and cantor for Hamburg's large Reform Jewish community.

The very year that Renate was born, the Nazis came to power in Germany and began passing a series of anti-Jewish measures. Jews were barred from most professions, public schools, and many public places, and Jewish businesses were confiscated. Jews were stripped of their German citizenship and were segregated from the population as a whole. Many Jews began to flee the country, but others, like Renate's parents, believed that the restrictions were only temporary and would soon end.

After the wide-scale destruction, violence, and acts of terror that occurred on the night of November 9-10, 1938, Renate's parents tried desperately to get their children out of Germany. They wrote to refugee assistance organizations in England, begging them to find a place for their daughters. Because their parents could not pay for their children's care in England, the two young girls remained trapped in Germany.

In December 1941, when Renate was eight years old, the entire family, along with 16,000 other German Jews, was deported to Riga, Latvia. The 30,000 local Jews, who had already been living in the sealed-off ghetto, had been murdered by the Germans to make room for them. There was inadequate food, water, and sanitary facilities. Thousands died from starvation, disease, and exposure.

By December 1943, the ghetto was emptied of its population. Most of the inhabitants were murdered by the Germans or sent to labor camps where they were worked to death.

Renate and her family disappeared without a trace.

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