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April 13, 1925 | Yasinya, Czechoslovakia
Cecilie was the youngest of six children born to a religious Jewish family in the Czechoslovakian town of Yasinya. Her father, who was from Poland, taught private lessons in math and German. The family owned a small grocery store, which Cecilie's mother managed.
1933-39: My father died in 1934 when I was 9. In March 1939Hungary, which was sympathetic to Nazi Germany, annexed the area of Czechoslovakia where we lived. One day, I arrived home to find my mother and sister had been arrested and imprisoned in Budapest. Our Czech citizenship was revoked, we were reclassified as "Polish," and were informed that we were being expelled to Poland. My mother was able to beg successfully for a six-month extension for herself, one of my sisters and me.
1940-44: We remained in Hungary, concealing our identities. In March 1944 the Germans occupied Hungary and we were deported with the Hungarian Jews toAuschwitz. On arriving, my sister and I were ordered to undress and our clothes were taken. We were shaved from head to toe, herded into showers and blasted by scalding and then freezing water. Then we were thrown rags to wear. Outside there was smoke and a vile smell in the air. We were told, "There are your mothers, sisters and fathers. They are burning them."
In the winter of 1944, Cecilie was deported from Auschwitz to the first of several labor camps. She was liberated by the Soviet army in the spring of 1945.