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Child Victims of the Nazis ~Part 2


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Living in Hell: Children during the Holocaust

By Barbra Beverly, Lee High School

The actual number of children who died during the Holocaust will never accurately be known. Estimates range as high as 1.5 million, including more than 1.2 million Jewish children. In addition, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of handicapped German, Polish, French, and Eastern European children were also murdered while under Nazi rule.

Children were especially vulnerable victims of the Nazis. It is estimated that over one million Jewish boys and girls were murdered under Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe. Nazi Germany and its collaborators established more than 800 ghettos throughout Eastern Europe to isolate and control Jewish populations. Many children and babies died in these ghettos due to lack of food, clothing, and shelter, as well as unsanitary and overcrowded conditions that spread disease. The Nazis considered most children in the ghettos useless for productive activity. They were generally not used for forced labor, thereby increasing the chance of early deportation to concentration camps and extermination camps, where they were usually killed. In the ghettos, Jewish council (Judenrat) chairmen were sometimes forced to make the painful and controversial decision whether to fill German quotas of children for deportation to these camps. Janusz Korczak, director of an orphanage in the Warsaw ghetto, refused to abandon children chosen for deportation. He accompanied them on the transport to the Treblinka extermination camp, where he was killed along with nearly 200 children.

Jewish children were frequently among the first victims when the Germans and their collaborators sought to destroy a Jewish community by shooting the inhabitants en masse or deporting them to an extermination camp to be murdered. Upon arrival at Auschwitz and other extermination camps, the majority of children were sent straight to their deaths in poison gas chambers. A number of children in the camps, especially twins, were used in Nazi medical experiments and suffered permanent physical damage.

Some Jewish children discovered ways to survive. Many smuggled food into the ghettos. A number of children in youth movements were involved in resistance activities and even participated in escapes to join partisan fighters.

A small number of Jewish children were rescued during the Holocaust era. Some non-Jews provided hiding places for Jewish children between 1938 and 1940; the 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. In France, almost the entire Protestant Huguenot population in the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon hid Jewish children.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, refugees searched throughout Europe for missing children,. Thousands of orphaned boys and girls waited in displaced persons camps, hoping to be reunited with any surviving relatives. Many fled Eastern Europe as part of the mass exodus.

Only a fraction of European Jewish children survived the Holocaust. But “Even in the most barbaric time, a human spark glowed in the rudest heart, and children were spared.”


  • 1941~1945

Nazi Angel of Death Josef Mengele ‘Created Twin Town in Brazil’

The Nazi doctor Josef Mengele is responsible for the astonishing number of twins in a small Brazilian town, an Argentine historian has claimed. The steely hearted „Angel of Death“, whose mission was to create a master race fit for the Third Reich, was the resident medic at Auschwitz from May 1943 until his flight in the face of the Red Army advance in January 1945.

His task was to carry out experiments to discover by what method of genetic quirk twins were produced – and then to artificially increase the Aryan birthrate for his master, Adolf Hitler.

Now, a historian claims, Mengele’s notorious experiments may have borne fruit. For years scientists have failed to discover why as many as one in five pregnancies in a small Brazilian town have resulted in twins – most of them blond haired and blue eyed. But residents of Candido Godoi now claim that Mengele made repeated visits there in the early 1960s, posing at first as a vet but then offering medical treatment to the women of the town.

Shuttling between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, he managed to evade justice before his death in 1979, but his dreams of a Nazi master race appeared unfulfilled. In a new book, Mengele: the Angel of Death in South America, the Argentine historian Jorge Camarasa, a specialist in the post-war Nazi flight to South America, has painstakingly pieced together the Nazi doctor’s mysterious later years. After speaking to the townspeople of Candido Godoi, he is convinced that Mengele continued his genetic experiments with twins – with startling results.

siehe auch: Do Aryans come in pairs from Brazil? The notorious Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele, tinkered with women in a Brazilian town to produce ‘master-race’ twins, a historian claims. The reviled Nazi war criminal was dubbed the ‘Angel of Death’ for his cruel human experiments. Most of Doctor Mengele’s victims in the Auschwitz death camp died painfully. Oddly, Mengele seemed to have had an obsession with identical twins and selected them for his inhumane research, reports the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

After the war he fled to Latin America and successfully evaded justice up until his death in 1979. Now an Argentinean historian claims Mengele went on with his experiments in hiding, causing a sharp increase in the birth of twins in a small Brazilian town. According to Jorge Camarasa, who is investigating the flight of Nazis to Latin America after WW2, Mengele often visited the town of Candido Godoi on the Paraguay-Brazilian border.

Under the name of Rudolph Weiss, it is claimed, Mengele initially provided veterinary services. Later he began treating people. He had a special interest in fertility, tended pregnant women, and claimed he could perform artificial insemination. Anencia Flores da Silva, former mayor of Candido Godoi, recalled: “He appeared to be some sort of rural medic who went from house to house. He attended women who had varicose veins and gave them a potion which he carried in a bottle, or tablets which he brought with him.”; ‘Mengele created twin town in Brazil’. In a new book, Argentine historian Jorge Camarasa claims that Nazi doctor Josef Mengele was responsible for the unusually high number of twins in the small Brazilian town of Cândido Godói, the British daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday. In his book, Mengele: the Angel of Death in South America, Camarasa, a historian specializing in the post-war Nazi flight to South America, researched the Nazi doctor’s activities after the Second World War. „I think Cândido Godói may have been Mengele’s laboratory, where he finally managed to fulfill his dreams of creating a master race of blond haired, blue eyed Aryans,“ he was quoted in the British newspaper as saying; The Twins from Brazil: Did Nazi doctor Mengele – the Angel of Death – cause twin surge in South American town? Nazi doctor Josef Mengele is behind the high proportion of blond-haired, blue-eyed twins in a Brazilian town, according to a new book A notorious Nazi doctor known as the ‘Angel of Death’ is behind an alarming number of twins born in a small Brazilian town, a historian has claimed. Josef Mengele was an SS physician in Auschwitz concentration camp where in a bid to create a master race for Adolf Hitler he carried out genetic experiments to find the key to producing twins.



Forgiving Josef Mengele,1518,389491,00.html

Eva Kor and her twin sister both miraculously survived Auschwitz and the infamous SS doctor Josef Mengele. But despite almost being murdered, Eva forgave the Nazis. The documentary of her life has now been shown for the first time in Germany.

A quick look at the medical charts was enough. “You have just two weeks to live,” the doctor said. That was it; he then left the sick bay -- without giving his patient, the 10-year-old Eva, any medication. Why should he when he wanted the young Romanian girl to die. The doctor, Josef Mengele, had himself injected her with a lethal cocktail of bacteria.

It was the spring of 1944 when Eva Kor, along with her twin sister Miriam and her mother, arrived in the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. When the family climbed down from the train, an agitated SS guard ran up to them yelling “Twins! Twins!” A few moments later, Eva and Miriam were torn away from their mother. They never saw her again.

Fast forward more than 60 years, and the young girl Eva is now an old woman of 71. She has curly white hair and is, on this Tuesday evening, sporting a blue outfit with short sleeves and a silk shawl. On her left forearm, her tattoo from Auschwitz is still easily visible: A-7063. Yet while the fact that Eva is still alive may be astounding enough, it is her presence in Hamburg at the invitation of the Körber Foundation this week -- and the German debut of a documentary film about her life -- that really takes one’s breath away. The film -- made by filmmaker Bob Hercules and historian Cheri Pugh, both American -- is called “Forgiving Dr. Mengele.” Because that is exactly what Eva Mozes Kor did.

Her story, though, came close to ending prematurely -- as did so many in the death camps of World War II. After being selected from among the new arrivals, the sisters were brought to the now-infamous camp doctor Josef Mengele. Mengele had a standing order for twins; he needed them for his “medical experiments.” Most of the time, he injected one of the twins with poison or with a bacteria or virus and then documented the development of the disease and the onset of death. As soon as the test patient died, he and his assistants would then immediately murder the twin sibling -- usually with an injection in the heart -- before performing simultaneous autopsies. Some 1,400 pairs of twins fell victim to Mengele’s barbaric experiments.

Forgiveness and healing

And it was exactly this that he intended to do with the Kor twins. “But he had another thing coming,” Eva says defiantly. Thanks to an iron will -- and a strong immune system -- Eva survived the disease Mengele had injected into her veins. “I just kept thinking, ‘If I die, then Miriam will be murdered as well.’”

On Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army liberated the survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau and brought their nightmare to an end. Not too much later, the Kor twins emigrated to Israel. Eva then moved on to the United States, started her own family and became a real estate broker. But the suffering stayed with them. Miriam, too, had apparently received an injection from Mengele, but nobody could figure out what she was suffering from. Her kidneys, though, were failing. Once again, Eva did what she could to save her sister’s life and donated one of her own kidneys. But the disease could not be stopped and, in 1993, Miriam died in Israel.

Since then, however, Eva’s story has become one of forgiveness and personal healing. It has also become one of controversy. After all, the film, shown at the Körber Foundation on Tuesday night, does not focus on annihilation and guilt, as do so many Holocaust films that came before it. Rather, it is about a woman who made peace with those who exterminated her family and who tried to exterminate her.

Kor’s path to peace began with a trip to the country of her would-be murderers from her current hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana. Only a few weeks after the death of her sister, Eva flew to Germany to meet with a German doctor. Hans Münch was his name, and he had worked alongside Mengele in Auschwitz. After World War II ended, the SS-medic faced war crimes charges, but was found not guilty. In contrast to his colleagues, it was found that Münch had not carried out any experiments on his patients.

A former Nazi with a shy smile

She was incredibly nervous when she finally found herself standing in front of Münch’s door, Kor says. But then, an elderly gentleman with snow-white hair, a carefully trimmed beard and a shy smile opened the door. Yes, he admitted, he had been there during the gassings. “And that’s my problem,” he went on. He still suffers from depression and nightmares as a result. Kor had gone looking for a monster, but found a human being instead. “I then decided that I would write Münch a letter in which I forgave him,” Kor says.

But the resolute Auschwitz survivor went even further than that. When, in January 1995, the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was celebrated, Kor brought Münch along. On the snow-covered site of the former extermination camp, she read a confession of guilt from Münch to the gathered press. She saw it as an important statement from an eye-witness that could be used to contradict those who would deny the Holocaust. But then, she said, “In my own name, I forgive all Nazis.”

The other former concentration camp prisoners were horrified. “We have no right to forgive the perpetrators in the names of the victims,” was the formulation often used. Kor’s private amnesty was shocking, said one woman who had also been a victim of Mengele’s experiments on twins. And ever since Kor’s personal clemency, a number of Auschwitz survivors have done their best to avoid her. The pain and anger is just too deep. Can one really forgive pure evil? By doing so, does one not exonerate the murderers and torturers who ran the camps?

The American real estate agent today, though, is certain that she did the right thing. “I felt as though an incredibly heavy weight of suffering had been lifted,” she says. “I never thought I could be so strong.” She says that because she was able to forgive her worst enemies, she was finally able to free herself from her victim status. But, she is quick to add, forgiveness does not mean forgetting. “What the victims do does not change what happened,” she says. But every victim has the right to heal themselves as well as they can. “And the best thing about the remedy of forgiveness,” she says, “is that there are no side effects. And everybody can afford it.”

Holocaust Survivor: Sarah Shefer (nee Eckstein)

Born 1938 in Sarvar, Hungary. Deported to Auschwitz. Few memories of period together with twin sister under Mengele's supervision and medical experiments performed on them. In convent at Kattowice, Poland. From convent to Hungary with help of Jewish woman from Budapest who took them under her wing. Youth Aliya institution in Deszk. Eretz Yisrael, 1946. Youth Aliya boarding school at Kfar Batya. Marries and joins Moshav Nir Galim, 1953. Reunion with Margit Weiss, woman who took sisters from Kattowice convent.

Children as medical guinea pigs

It is hard to believe that I was part of a nightmarish scene that would not occur even to a sick imagination. In the midst of all the other horrors of Auschwitz to see children including very small children standing for hours in a Zehlappell (rollcall lineup), sometimes sitting on stools, like in kindergarten children aged six to eight. Children snatched from their mothers' arms by Mengele, who with a swing of his hand, right or left, determined whether people were to live or die. This operation, called Selektzie (selection), was carried out amid inhuman shouts and roars. Only later did we learn that Mama and all those on the left had been sent to the gas chamber.

One doctor there immediately had his eye on us, as we were twins, and were candidates for the medical-scientific experiments Mengele was conducting in order to learn how to improve the German race. The experimental barrack was called B Lager (Camp B). It was a long barrack filled with triple-tiers of bunks. Each bunk contained three children. We had to curl up for lack of space. I remember that the girl in the bunk with me and my sister got kicked whenever we tried to straighten our legs. In the middle of the barrack was a big stove. There were about 100 twins in the barrack. Our group included a family of midgets, though they were in a separate room. Among the horrible things that happened, there was the shocking case of the woman who gave birth. After the baby, a girl, was born, they experimented to see how long she would survive without food and drink, until finally, a woman doctor (a Jew) ended the baby's suffering with a lethal injection.

They tattooed numbers on our arms, and from time to time they took us to the infirmary to conduct various experiments on us. They gave us all kinds of injections, put drops in our eyes, repeatedly checked our blood. The food was very skimpy: insipid soup, bread the breadloaf was shaped like a brick and 333366 coffee. We would stand in the fenced-in yard watching skeleton-like people in striped clothing trudging around hauling the corpses on litters. The air was always filled with the stench of bodies burning in the crematorium not far from there.

Some children had their mothers nearby. The others were very jealous, because all of us desperately wanted our mothers. Today I realize how hard it must have been, in that hell, for those mothers to see what their children were undergoing.

I came down with typhus and I was put in isolation. All I did all day was crush the lice and bugs on the wall near my bunk. I recovered. One day I heard that we were free to go. We started walking. The younger children were placed in a convent at Kattowice. Out of the 2,000 walkers who had been freed, many died along the way. It was rumored that there were Jewish orphans at that convent and relatives or acquaintances were allowed to take children out of there. A certain fine woman took me and my twin sister, despite her illness. She was called "Margit Nanni." She rescued us from hell. She looked after the two of us utterly spent and completely bald as we were. From the moment we laid eyes on her we clung to her for the next few weeks till, together with her, we completed the long route back to Hungary.

Holocaust Survivor: Eliezer Shimoni

Born 1928 in Feldebro, Hungary. Antisemitism in Nyirbator. Problems because of lack of Hungarian citizenship. News from BBC and refugees from Poland, and Jews' reaction. March from Nyiregyhaza to Auschwitz and selection before entering camp. Attitude to religious precepts in Auschwitz. Death march to Gleiwitz camp, January 17, 1945. Travel in open freight wagons via Czechoslovakia to Buchenwald. Czechs' friendly attitude. Special selection for Jews in Buchenwald, April 1945. Joins transport; last-minute escape. Liberation, May 1945. In uncle's home at Nyirbator. Zionist training camp in Budapest. To Eretz Yisrael, 1946. News of father's fate.


From Weimar we travelled to Buchenwald. The Buchenwald main camp branched off into many sub-camps, to which many prisoners were sent. When I arrived in February 1945, there was a tremendous number of prisoners there of various nationalities. I was in the children's camp, far from the entrance gate, behind the adults' camps.

My big brother had been with me all the way until we were separated during the journey to Buchenwald. He was about two years older than me, but he was weak, and I had helped him along during all that period. I had given him moral support, and had tried to share with him every day whatever food I was able to get hold of.

In Buchenwald we were not put right to work, and I used the time to try to find him. I was overjoyed when I located him in a barrack of older youth. After about a month I was sent to Holzen camp, a Buchenwald sub-camp not far from Hannover. It was in a marshy area, and conditions there were rough. Every day we had to march several kilometers to work in underground factories in the Hannover area.

With the U.S. Army approaching, we were evacuated to Buchenwald. During the journey back, we saw a lot of German military. Our intuition told us that the war would soon end. But the Germans made the prisoners work right up to the end, as if nothing was happening.

As soon as I got back I went looking for my brother and was happy to find him in his barrack. There were thousands of new prisoners in the camp, who had been evacuated there from other camps, and things were becoming chaotic.

On April 4 we suddenly heard an announcement in German over the loudspeakers: "All Jews to the assembly area!" The Jewish prisoners were in a panic and they started rushing about looking for places to hide. The Germans tried to force the Jews to assemble, but to no avail. Then they withheld the regular food rations and promised bread and sausage to those who would go on the transports. The hunt for Jews went on for several days.

I was in block 66 in the children's camp. The block chief was a Czech. He knew what those transports meant, and he did everything he could to save us. Once or twice he couldn't get out of it and our whole barrack had to report to the assembly area. Twice we were saved thanks to the sudden appearance of Allied bombers and the sirens that sent everybody rushing for shelter.

At one point I broke. This was shortly before the liberation. I had lost my brother and didn't know where he was. Apparently he could no longer take the hunger and had gone on one of the transports. I also told myself that I had to eat. I informed them that I was leaving the block and going on a transport.

The transports were arranged in a large hall used as a movie theater. Those caught were placed between two barbed-wire fences leading to the hall's door. I went in, got the food, and instead of going out again with the streaming crowd I did an about-face and went back in. At the far end of the theatre there was a corner that led outside. There was a fence there, and, holding the food, I climbed the fence, threw the food down, and jumped. I hurt myself, but I made my way back to my camp, to block 66. That is how I was saved.

Holocaust Survivor: Nehemiah David

Born 1924 in Nagyida, Transylvania. Life in Nagyida village. Forsakes idea of escaping to Rumania. Szaszragen ghetto. How Jews saw Hungarians and Rumanians. Drafted for forced labor. In Nagybanya camp. Easier work in Budapest area thanks to prior acquaintance with Hungarian officer. Dispatch of labor unit to Austrian border and escape to Budapest. Released, re-drafted into labor unit. Trial at Szombathely. Labor camp in Austria. Religious observance in camp. German retreat and liberation by Russians. Year in Nagyida. Attitude of local populace. Conversation with village's two priests. Displaced-persons' camps in Austria. To Israel in 1949 from British internment camp in Cyprus.

My honor

On my journey home to the village, I wondered what it would be like. I surveyed the area from the ridge. From that height, you could see a great distance. I saw our vineyard, the fields, our houses. I recalled the dreams I had dreamt about being a tree part of that countryside, part of those mountains, belonging to them. I thought about what had been done to the Jewish People in general and to my family in particular.

About how all that was beautiful in Man here likened to the beautiful natural landscape, the mountains had descended to such depths, to such unprecedented cruelty. How wretched for humanity! Towards what end?! How is it said? "What is my crime, what is my sin?" Nature is so gorgeous. I remembered the Sabbaths, the festivals, among our extended family. We would go into the countryside: the stillness, the pure air, the beauty, the harmony there was room for all. You didn't see anyone push. There was no wickedness there. Everybody and everything was forbearing, patient, as though some Hand were directing everything thus. Everything was alive, everything grew, with nothing and no one interfering. It hurts so what human being are capable of doing to each other.

Why, I mused, go into the village by daylight, to see the man you lived with, grew up with, went to school with, trusted, helped in good times and bad, shared his joys? I didn't want them running after me saying: "Here he is, poor fellow..." I couldn't forget those moments when they didn't stand by our side not a single one of them not the Rumanians, not the Hungarians, not the Saxonians. I didn't want to see them at the moment of my homecoming.

I walked on. It was turning dark. It was May, springtime. The young people were outside. I recognized many of them, to the right and to the left. I didn't answer them. They called out: "There's a stranger in the village!" One of them followed me and recognized me. He let out a shout: "Nehemiah!" It turned into a circus. All of a sudden they were all friends: "Come over to our house! You'll have a meal with us! How we cried for you, how it hurt us to see how they humiliated you!" I said: "No! I want to go see my honor." "What honor?" "Our house! I want to see what kind of respect you paid our house. I want to see what condition it's in." Not a soul was there. I went into the rooms no door, no window, no table, not a single piece of furniture... The house was empty. The winepress was empty. Books volumes of the Mishna and Talmud, festival prayerbooks piled up in the yard, soaked from rain and snow. Pictures one or two. It was evening and the older people came, Hungarians: "Young man, come over to us, come and sit with us; why stay here alone?" I said: "No, thanks." There was no one in the village who didn't come and shake his head.

The next day I went to the vineyard. Here a big surprise awaited me: in the middle of the vineyard there came running toward me Who? My only true friend, who really didn't know how to lie, and I believed him I mean the dog. He gave me a proper welcome. A human-on-four. He didn't budge from me, didn't forsake me for a moment. The cat also came back. Afterwards all the members of my family arrived. We were four brothers and sisters. We rehabilitated everything the vineyard, the trees. But to enjoy life there?!... Not for a single moment did I consider staying. Every minute, every second I thought of nothing but going to live in Eretz Yisrael. I spent nearly a year in the village. I had returned in May 1945 and I left the place in March 1946.

Hanna Shimoni (nee Gottdiener)

Holocaust Survivor: Hanna Shimoni (nee Gottdiener)

Born 1936 in Debrecen, Hungary. (Named Judith at birth and so called till coming to Eretz Yisrael, when sister registered her as Hanna, which is the name in all her documents.) In Debrecen till German entry. In ghetto, then to brick factory. Train journey to Slovakia, June 1944, and return to Strasshof, Austria. Her family and another one at farm near Heidenreichstein, Austria, July-September 1944. Father dies of illness. Back to Strasshof, then month's work in children's clothing factory, autumn 1944. In Bergen-Belsen, till evacuation in April 1945. At Hilersleben after liberation. Family splits up: children go to Eretz Yisrael and elder members go to Hungary to seek kin. Shimoni with mother in displaced-persons' camp in Belgium, then in uncle's home in France. To Eretz Yisrael as "legal" immigrant, September 1945.

"We shall never separate"

At the end of Passover we were transferred to the Debrecen ghetto. The problems of supporting ourselves had begun before. From the Debrecen period, I especially remember the son of the concierge of the building in which we lived. The building had once been a hotel. Below was a large compound. The concierge's son always scared me. Whenever I wanted to go in, I made sure to do so together with some adult.

When things got bad, our family made up that whenever one of us came home, we would whistle a special signal. We lived in an atmosphere of constant suspicion and fear. When the Germans entered Debrecen, they set up their command post in the building opposite, and we hung blankets over the windows, so they shouldn't see what we were doing.

The ghetto was in a strictly Jewish neighborhood. There was a Jewish school. My married sister lived in the the area included in the ghetto. We moved only a few pieces of our furniture. All of us my parents, my brothers and my sisters crowded into that tiny apartment and we slept two to a bed.

I remember a heavy air raid when we went down to the shelters. When the bombing was over the people went out to clear the rubble and attend to the wounded. My brothers also went out. When they came back, they said the balcony of our building had collapsed. Later we learned that the whole building had been destroyed.

We had taken along to the ghetto all the flour and oil in our pantry. Mama and my sisters constantly baked cookies and other things. I remember them putting jewelry into the cookies, and coloring Papa's gold cufflinks to camouflage them. We were in the ghetto a few weeks.

In June 1944 they rounded us up, piled us into trucks and moved us to the brick factory. The place was packed; they seem to have brought all the Jews of the region there. We were moved from place to place with our bundles, and around us marched gendarmes bearing whips. My big sister was very pretty. She seems to have attracted the attention of one of the gendarmes a young fellow of about 18. He hit her across the back with his whip. My sister picked up a wooden tub and was about to throw it at his head, but my two brothers grabbed her and stopped her. If she had done what she intended, she would have been killed on the spot.

I also had a difficult experience at this time. I had long braids and didn't want my hair cut. One day I heard my named being called. There was a big crowd there and I was frightened. Mama said: "Go! Go!" She apparently knew why I was being called. I went, and they shaved my skull clean. Mama was unhappy. She had been worried about our hygiene, but she hadn't expected such an outcome. For me it was a trauma, the first trauma of my life. I was eight at the time.

I remember how the big families were separated from the small ones. Papa and Mama held a consultation with my big brothers about whether it might not be a good idea to split up the family. Small families might have a better chance of survival. It was decided that come what may, we will never split up! So we joined the group of large families.

Yisrael Feld

Born 1928 in Satoraljaujhely, Hungary. Parents can't get Hungarian citizenship; expelled to Ukraine. Flight during murders at Kamenitz-Podolsk. Attempt to reach Hungary; arrested after someone informs. Detention camp in Hungary till 1943. Refugees bring news from Czechoslovakia and Poland. Privileges to communal leaders till deportation to Auschwitz. Transfer to Durnau camp. How different prisoners cope with plight. Flossenburg camp. Death march. Return to Hungary. Zionist training camp. To Israel, 1948.

They won't take it out of your belly

After the air raid along the way, they collected all the people who had been hit. Instead of treating them, someone with scissors simply went around snipping as needed a hand, a foot. Sheared them off like trouser fabric, and tied them; those who had the strength did their own tying. Some of those hit whether killed or just wounded were piled up criss-cross, the way freshly cut logs are piled in the forest. I can still see that sight next to the rail line. They piled them up the way wooden carts are sometimes piled in rows alongside the railroad tracks. Inside the pile there were some people who were still alive. But we paid no attention. Our minds were no longer functioning enough for us to notice.

When we had got ourselves reorganized, I started entering the wagons to see if there was anyone from my town, somebody Hungarian. In one wagon I saw someone from Ungvar. "Who is that?" It seems it was the younger of two brothers who had been with us. He was so exhausted that he didn't have the strength to come out of the wagon. I went over to him and asked: "What happened to my brother? What happened to your brother?" He answered: "We ran away! I didn't have any strength left, so they put me on the train and they continued walking." That was the last bit of information I got about my brother. Meanwhile, they re-assembled us. They got the wagons ready, brought a locomotive and repaired the rails.

Again they packed us into the wagons. We didn't eat a thing, because they didn't give us any food. Only at the beginning of our journey, before we boarded the wagons, they gave everyone a portion or two of bread, which was supposed to suffice for the entire trip. They didn't give us a thing after that. I don't even remember us drinking water. I had already eaten my bread. I had already learned from experience not to save bread for the next day. It was when I was still together with my brother. He had less will power than I when it came to going without food.

He always ate up his ration while I left some over. The next afternoon, while I was eating the bread I had saved, he would ask me for some and I gave him. In the evening he would pay me back, and he had less to eat. The next day I would again have some "extra" bread, and again I would give him some. Then I told him: "You know what? Don't pay me back. Let's make a common pantry. We'll combine our rations and we'll save some and eat it together. I'll do the dividing." He was always very hungry, and so was I, but I seem to have had more will power, or my body didn't need as much food. Then I remember: we had a bigger ration of bread, and I wrapped it well and put it under my head before we went to sleep.

The next morning it was gone. My brother cursed me: "Not only didn't we eat it, but we don't have anything left! From now on I'm finishing my bread the second I get it." I also learned the lesson: I ate up my food the moment I got it. What is already inside the belly is there to stay; nobody will take it out of there.

Hanna Deutsch (nee Frenkel)

Born 1930 in Vasarosnameny, Hungary. Parents' home. Schoolday memories. Expulsion of families lacking Hungarian citizenship. Collecting money to bribe authorities in Budapest. Family's economic situation after father declared missing. April 1944: Jews concentrated in Beregszasz ghetto. Deportation to Auschwitz. "Selections" and living conditions in Auschwitz. Hanna and sister deported to Germany. Markleeberg camp. Work in factory making airplane spare parts till evacuation in spring 1945. Work on German peasant's farm before and after liberation. Russian soldiers. Return to Budapest via Prague, and return to Vasarosnameny. Loss of belongings that had been hidden. Year in Vac. At camp for young girls of Bnai Akiva religious Zionist youth movement. Difficulties in getting out of Communist Hungary. Smuggling Jews out of country. Failed attempt to steal across Slovakian border. Arrest. Another effort to leave Hungary, 1949. Arrival in Israel in 1949 after stay in Austria and Italy. Attitude to Holocaust. Attitude to visits in Germany and Hungary.

A "good" camp

Compared to the other camps, the Markleeberg camp near Leipzig was a good one. It was a small camp for women, mainly from Hungary, and in my estimation there were no more than 4,000 women there; some say even less.

We worked in a factory making spare parts for airplanes. We that is: I, my sister, my cousin and about 20 other girls were lucky. We only had to do a 12-hour day shift, while the others had to alternate between day and night shifts. Our setup had a big advantage. The others were jealous of us. We were given lunch in the factory consisting of a loaf of bread, margarine and victuals. People didn't grab. Everything was done in orderly fashion.

On Sundays we didn't work; we just did our laundry and washed up. My foreman was a German Socialist and he always brought us the latest news about the war. His secretary was a very fat woman. She wore a swastika on her chest, and she had a son serving in the SS, yet she was very good to me. Every morning, when I rinsed her coffee cup, I knew she had saved a thin slice of bread for me. She gave me an extra undergarment so I should be warm. And the foreman always gave me a smile.

The guarding of the camp was done mainly by SS women, and the camp commander was also decent to us. I and my sister took care how we looked: we wanted to look as pretty as possible. We painted the wooden shoes we had been issued in the camp dark-gray. The foreman saw what we had done but didn't say a word. He seemed to like it. Usually people were tried and punished for such things. There were all kinds of punishments. The work was checked, and it was forbidden to work without wearing a frock over our clothing. I felt very warm and I took off the frock. I was punished. I had to stand beside the fence for many hours. There was another thing I was afraid of. I was wearing an extra undergarment, the one I had been given by the German woman. That was also something for which they punished people. I was ready to stand there wearing just one garment, but my sister took my frock and stood there instead of me.

There was still another punishment, an ugly one. Belgian, Russian and Dutch prisoners-of-war worked in the factory. They were the foremen. They trained the girls, and no conversation was allowed except about the work. Some girls were caught conversing. Our hair had begun to grow. The girls who were caught had a strip shaved up the middle of their skull. It was an awful sight, awful. They stood out so.

Afterwards we were told that one of the Belgian young men fell in love with one of the girls. They got married later. Yes, love also flourished there. This camp can't be compared to other camps. One day we were told that a baby had been born at the hospital. The camp commander offered to be the baby's godfather. We told ourselves that if that was the case, then we were not badly off. But it seems that the authorities had other ideas. We heard that the mother and baby were taken away. We don't know where they were taken.

Haya (Katie) Goldberger (nee Schindler)

Born 1930 in Hajdunanas, Hungary. Jewish life in Hajdunanas. Trouble because of lack of Hungarian citizenship. Mayor places father under house arrest so he shouldn't be banished from Hungary. Subsisting after father deprived of livelihood. Young Haya rebels against degrading treatment by Hungarians. To ghetto, then to Debrecen brick factory. Putting on Tefillin at Bar Mitzva despite danger. Journey in cattlecars toward Czechoslovakia and back to Strasshof. Families able to work sent to Austria. Work at Amaliendorf in factory making clothing for German Army. Father deported to Bergen-Belsen. Teresienstadt. To Hungary after liberation. Rumania. Haya's attempt to get to Eretz Yisrael from Brno with group of youths. In Germany with Dror Habonim Socialist Zionist youth group. With parents in Austria. To Eretz Yisrael from Italy with Youth Aliya, December 1947.

The Rebel

When Mama decided to go to Budapest to try to earn some money to support the family, Papa became very edgy and short-tempered. The fact that Mama had to go and he was under house arrest literally made him sick. When the yeshivot were closed, my brothers came home and our situation became even more difficult. At that time we were producing shoes of woven straw for the Hungarian and German Armies. The shoes were supposed to protect the feet against frostbite. Papa brought piles of straw. We had to weave the straw on forms.

I was a rebellious, unforgiving sort: if anyone hit me, I hit back. Papa once grabbed me and shook me, saying: "What are you doing? Do you want that Gentile whose son you spit at to come in here? Do you realize what he'll do if he comes into our house? You'll be the ruin of us!"

This worked for two or three weeks, and then again I lost control of myself. Only this time I did something very serious: I didn't pull the straw tight enough. And again the Gentile in charge complained: "Do you want the feet of our soldiers to freeze?" Nothing dire happened to us, but we were not permitted to do that work anymore. Again I felt that I was to blame, that instead of helping I had done something wrong.

Mama stopped going to Budapest, because she saw that it made Papa sick. She bought some ducks and geese. We would slaughter them ritually, cook them and sell the smoked meat. We had some income from that and we had food, but this didn't go on for long. House searches began. This was marketeering, an unforgivable crime. We did it in the house between two doors, and we mailed the meat once a week to Miskolc, packed in marmalade containers, about five kilograms per container. From time to time I would bring the stuff to the post office. For a nice portion of goose liver, the clerk would turn a blind eye. There were special detectives whose job it was to look out for such illegal activities.

I remember once setting out with the boxes and seeing one of the detectives standing there watching me. I stopped and said to him: "Tell me, sir, why are you standing there staring at me? Didn't you ever see a box of marmalade before?" He knew Papa and knew that I was his daughter. He said: "Cheeky Jew! Beat it before I give you a couple of slaps." Since we did not have Hungarian citizenship, we were very much afraid. If anyone were to complain against Papa, the whole family would be deported immediately. When Papa heard what happened, he was angry again: "What do you want," he said to me, "that they should deport us?"

I felt awful, but something similar happened again. Our drinking-water supply was some distance from the house. I took water from one of the nearby courtyards, and one of the Gentile children came toward me and called out: "Dirty Jew!" I retorted: "I'm not dirty. I'm a Jew alright, but I'm not dirty!" He said: "How come you say you're not dirty? The Jews are cry-babies. Filthy and dirty!" I spilled the contents of my pitcher on him. I told Papa. "Now what have you done?" he scolded me. Poor Papa. He waited for that boy's father to show, but nothing happened. I tried to stop doing things like that.

David Leitner

Born 1930 in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary. Father conscripted into labor units, 1940, 1941, 1942. Attitudes of local populace and Slovak neighbors. Ghetto and Nyirjes camp. To Auschwitz, end of May or early June. Gypsy camp in Birkenau. Children to Camp E after Gypsy camp liquidated. In Scheisskommando (latrine squad) till Sonderkommando revolt, October 7, 1944. Mengele removes 51 children, including David, from crematorium number 5. Unloading potatoes. March to Althammer. Mauthausen camp. March to Gunskirchen; conditions there. Return to Hungary. To Eretz Yisrael, 1949.

How they were ransomed

In Birkenau the barracks were in the charge of Blockaelteste (block chiefs). They were generally non-Jewish Poles, with assistants. Every one of them had a boy or two of whom he was very fond to serve him and perhaps for other purposes about which we had no inkling then. They didn't want "their" boys to be selected for the gas chambers, so each one saw to ransoming "his" boy. How did they ransom them? They would go into the barracks and indiscriminately pick children to be sent to the gas chamber instead of "their" boys.

Once, on the day before the Simhat Torah holiday, some block chiefs came to snatch children. Not many were left, as most of them had been sent off in the first two selections. I was one of those seized for dispatch to the crematorium. It was impossible to escape, since they had locked us in a sealed barrack. Those including me slated for extermination in the third selection, scheduled for Simhat Torah, were herded into blocks 11 and 13.

Several hundred of us all children marched out of block 11 toward the crematorium. It was midday. I don't remember whether SS men escorted us. Oh, yes there was an SS man, an awful Ukrainian by the name of Bartsky. They hadn't come out of block 13  yet. The selection was going on in there. The stronger ones were sent back inside and the rest marched to the crematorium, behind us. We walked.

They took us inside and ordered us to strip naked. Of course, we knew what they intended to do with us. We stood there naked. An order came and we were told to wait. It seems that more fit children were needed, and there was an order to select 50 of us. I was among the 50 children they took. There must have been about a thousand children inside the crematorium building. All of us were Jews from Hungary and Transvylvania and possibly also Czechoslovakia, from the areas that had been annexed to Hungary. There were 50 of us, and another one managed to join us. He had been with me in the Scheisskommando, the labor platoon that cleaned the latrines and sometimes also served the underground by delivering materials and information from camp to camp. He was short but healthy. I don't know how he got to be Number 51.

When the selection was over we were stood to the side. We stood there  naked, wondering what they were going to with to us. We thought they might be taking us to bring wood to the crematorium, or to turn us into soap. They drove us naked outside and shoved the others inside, into the crematorium. They used their truncheons on us. Then the SS men and the kapo brought us clothing to put on and walked us back to the camp. I think that that Simhat Torah, the Day of the Rejoicing Over the Torah, we all rejoiced, even the antisemitic Polish Gentiles, for that was the first time that anyone had ever come back from the crematorium alive.

Of course, afterwards we kept looking for the children in whose place we had been taken to the crematorium. I remember one block chief's telling me and another child, I think not maliciously: "You see? When God wants it, you're saved." I saw this as a kind of apology; maybe there was a bit of humanity in that Blockaeltester.

Ruth Netzer (nee Gottlieb)

Born 1929 in Orkucany, Czechoslovakia. Only Jewish family in Orkucany. Expelled to Kosice after Hungarian annexation on grounds that father is Hungarian. Father detained in Garany camp because of lack of Hungarian citizenship. Zionist youth flee from Kosice to Budapest. Cousins flee to Czechoslovakia after Germans enter Hungary. To Auschwitz. Month in Bergen-Belsen, autumn 1944. To Markleeberg labor camp near Leipzig. Work in camp and in factory for airplane spare parts. Released from infirmary with help of Jewish doctor. Evacuated from Markleeberg. Hides in barn, arrested by German police. In camp for Russian women prisoners till liberation. Return to Kosice. Zionist training camp and Zionist activity till journey to Israel, 1949.

The compassion of Jewish women

I was in Bergen-Belsen about a month. In the middle of October they rounded up our group and took us to Markleeberg, a town not far from Leipzig. In this camp (a sub-camp of Buchenwald) in the Leipzig industrial zone there were only women. A group of Jewish women prisoners from Auschwitz had preceded us here, and we were followed a little later by the group that had remained in Bergen-Belsen. It was a small camp. I can't give an exact estimate of the number of prisoners, but there must have been about a thousand women. At the outset, we didn't work in the factory near the camp. We were kept in a barrack to make sure we weren't carrying any disease and we worked inside the camp. In the camp we were guarded by SS people SS women, but also men.

There was a factory producing airplane spare parts. Later our group was assigned to work there. I didn't work in this factory, but my friend did. The workers had to stand at the machine for many long hours turning out a certain quota of parts. The workers included German civilians, and prisoners Russians, Poles, Dutch and perhaps other nationalities. They were in a separate camp, and we met only in the factory.

At first I worked in the Baukommando, the construction unit. Our work consisted mainly of filling wheelbarrows with sand and hauling the loads from place to place, under the vigilant supervision of SS women. We worked in pairs one girl would fill up the wheelbarrow and the other would wheel it from place to place. I was the youngest, and I had a hard time hauling the wheelbarrow. My partner tried to make it easier for me by not filling our wheelbarrow. The SS woman noticed. I don't remember if I got slapped, but we were warned not to do it again. After that I had to haul full wheelbarows all over the place, and it was very hard for me. After one day's work I fell sick. When work ended I came down with a high fever and I was put in the infirmary. There was a Jewish woman doctor there, a member of our group of prisoners. She took very good care of me, but it was a long time before my fever went down. I was there nearly a month, and I was in very weak condition.

From time to time SS men came to check up on the patients. One day that doctor said to me: "You shouldn't stay here. It's dangerous to be in a place like this too long. The SS officer has been coming here too frequently, and I'm afraid they're planning something." Shortly afterwards we were all called out to a lineup, which the sick people also had to attend. One of the SS men demanded 10 women for work. The work was in the big kitchen of the factory, involving peeling potatoes. That doctor recommended me for the job. There were about 15 of us. Much to our luck, the person in charge of the kitchen was a German civilian, and we were not under the regular watch of the SS women. He and his wife treated us very decently. The place was warm and I didn't go hungry. The job I got thanks to that doctor saved my life, because my health had deteriorated, and there I gradually came back to myself.

Joshua Yehoshua Amsel

Born 1922 in Nyirbeltek, Hungary. There and in Budapest till April 1943. Forced-labor unit at Zombor, spring 1943. Bor, Yugoslavia, July. Changes in Hungarian command and worsening treatment of Jews, April 1944. March from Bor to Belgrade and massacre at Cservenka, September 1944. Labor camps at Mohacs and Szentkiraly Szabadia. Camps in Germany Uhrdorf and Bergen-Belsen till liberation. Zionist training camp in Hungary till move to Israel, 1948.

What life was like there

On November 25 we travelled to Uhrdorf. At that stage I already realized what was going on in the camps. I had been right in the Valley of Slaughter and still I had not believed that human beings were capable of such things. There was one positive thing about me: I didn't want to die. I may have that to thank for my survival. Already in November I saw the Allied airplanes. I reckoned that the war would soon be over. I told myself: "Yehoshua, we're going to try our hardest. You don't have to die." But how do you do this? At Uhrdorf, the Nazi command staff was helped to run things by prisoners assigned to various jobs as Blockaelteste (block chiefs) and Zimmeraelteste (room chiefs), and also as kitchen staff. Ukrainians and Russians worked in the kitchens. The Russians were comparatively decent. The Ukrainians were terrible. I think that group included some Jews. I knew of one Jew, a Communist, and several times I wanted to go over to him and ask for a job in the kitchen, but I was afraid I might be made a kapo, and people in that post were in the habit of hitting and harassing people, and sometimes even killing.

Every morning we walked from camp to the nearby town. From there we rode about 20-30 kilometers. We were laying a rail line. When we set out for work, we would be given a loaf of bread for every five men, and on our return in the evening we got two bowls of soup. The work was overseen by SS men who patrolled the area. There were two problems: hunger and cold. The cold was the more serious problem. We had cloth hats, like those bakers wear, one pair of pants, a battle jacket and a belt to protect the kidneys a flannel strip, to keep the cold out. That was all we wore.>

One day a Jew from Munkacs, who felt very cold, came over alongside me. We were working with pickaxes and the ground was frozen. He didn't work, and actually I didn't either. But as soon as I saw the SS man approaching, I would lift my pickaxe and let it fall. One day the SS man noticed that the Jew beside me wasn't doing any work, and he ordered me in German to show the man what to do. I explained to that Munkacs Jew in Hungarian how to do the job: "You lift the pickaxe and bring it down, lift and down," and I added, in Hungarian, "tov bb is," meaning, "and so on." At this the SS man drew his pistol from his holster and cocked it. "Why, Kamerad?" I asked as calmly as I could. "You're a Communist," he replied. "You said `tovarisch'" [the Russian Communist salutation meaning `comrade']. I explained that what I had said was "tov bb is," Hungarian for "and so on," and that he could confirm this by asking anyone who spoke Hungarian.

He returned the pistol to the holster. From this you can tell what little value life had there: nothing, zero. Such things happened. What could a person do at such moments, run away? There was nowhere to run. It's a good thing I was capable of asking "Why?" If I had tried to run, he'd have killed me.

Sarah Shefer (nee Eckstein)

Born 1938 in Sarvar, Hungary. Deported to Auschwitz. Few memories of period together with twin sister under Mengele's supervision and medical experiments performed on them. In convent at Kattowice, Poland. From convent to Hungary with help of Jewish woman from Budapest who took them under her wing. Youth Aliya institution in Deszk. Eretz Yisrael, 1946. Youth Aliya boarding school at Kfar Batya. Marries and joins Moshav Nir Galim, 1953. Reunion with Margit Weiss, woman who took sisters from Kattowice convent.

Children as medical guinea pigs

It is hard to believe that I was part of a nightmarish scene that would not occur even to a sick imagination. In the midst of all the other horrors of Auschwitz to see children including very small children standing for hours in a Zehlappell (rollcall lineup), sometimes sitting on stools, like in kindergarten children aged six to eight. Children snatched from their mothers' arms by Mengele, who with a swing of his hand, right or left, determined whether people were to live or die. This operation, called Selektzie (selection), was carried out amid inhuman shouts and roars. Only later did we learn that Mama and all those on the left had been sent to the gas chamber.

One doctor there immediately had his eye on us, as we were twins, and were candidates for the medical-scientific experiments Mengele was conducting in order to learn how to improve the German race. The experimental barrack was called B Lager (Camp B). It was a long barrack filled with triple-tiers of bunks. Each bunk contained three children. We had to curl up for lack of space. I remember that the girl in the bunk with me and my sister got kicked whenever we tried to straighten our legs. In the middle of the barrack was a big stove. There were about 100 twins in the barrack. Our group included a family of midgets, though they were in a separate room. Among the horrible things that happened, there was the shocking case of the woman who gave birth. After the baby, a girl, was born, they experimented to see how long she would survive without food and drink, until finally, a woman doctor (a Jew) ended the baby's suffering with a lethal injection.

They tattooed numbers on our arms, and from time to time they took us to the infirmary to conduct various experiments on us. They gave us all kinds of injections, put drops in our eyes, repeatedly checked our blood. The food was very skimpy: insipid soup, bread the breadloaf was shaped like a brick and 333366 coffee. We would stand in the fenced-in yard watching skeleton-like people in striped clothing trudging around hauling the corpses on litters. The air was always filled with the stench of bodies burning in the crematorium not far from there.

Some children had their mothers nearby. The others were very jealous, because all of us desperately wanted our mothers. Today I realize how hard it must have been, in that hell, for those mothers to see what their children were undergoing.

I came down with typhus and I was put in isolation. All I did all day was crush the lice and bugs on the wall near my bunk. I recovered. One day I heard that we were free to go. We started walking. The younger children were placed in a convent at Kattowice. Out of the 2,000 walkers who had been freed, many died along the way. It was rumored that there were Jewish orphans at that convent and relatives or acquaintances were allowed to take children out of there. A certain fine woman took me and my twin sister, despite her illness. She was called "Margit Nanni." She rescued us from hell. She looked after the two of us utterly spent and completely bald as we were. From the moment we laid eyes on her we clung to her for the next few weeks till, together with her, we completed the long route back to Hungary.

Yisrael Goldberger

Born 1922 in Szatmar, Transylvania. Parents' home. Hungarians arrive, October 5, 1940. Evades draft by means of false documents. In Margareten, 1942. Returns home when Germans enter Hungary; drafted for forced labor in Ukraine, May 1944. Hungarians' cruelty in forced-labor camp at Stri-Doline, and arduous work chopping trees for fortifications. On foot to Hungary and escape, October 1944. Arrest by gendarmes at Debrecen on way to Budapest. In Budapest, shelter in protected buildings in Arena Street, 32 Benczur Street and Columbus camp. Bergen-Belsen; Sonderlager. To Teresienstadt by train, April 1944. Liberated by Americans at Teresienstadt, May 8, 1945. Back to Szatmar, July 1945. To Austria with help of Briha, Zionist underground movement taking survivors to Eretz Yisrael. Six-week military course by Hagana, Zionist underground military formation, in Hochland, Germany. To Eretz Yisrael via Austria and Italy.

The singer from Bergen-Belsen

From Columbus camp in Budapest we were taken to Bergen-Belsen. In the railroad station they promptly lined us up five abreast that was their system. From the station we walked several kilometers to Bergen-Belsen. We walked through the gateway. We were all wearing ordinary clothing. They took us to a warehouse and ordered us to undress in order to put on clothes and shoes they would give us, but they didn't give us a thing. Fortunately, I was in the Sonderlager, a special camp in Bergen-Belsen, whose Jewish inmates were considered candidates for exchange for German subjects held in "enemy" countries. After we undressed, they ordered us to put on our clothing again. In my pocket I had my Tefillin, and they remained with me throughout that period. They put us in barracks the familiar barracks of Bergen-Belsen. Every barrack was long as Exile, and from one end it was impossible to see the other end.

We began the daily Bergen-Belsen schedule. They woke us in the dark and ordered us outside for Zehlappel (rollcall). We stood for hours in that hellish frost, dressed in almost nothing. I had no shoes, nothing but rags covering my feet. On the first day they gave us Gemuese an insipid vegetable soup. We were still finicky and didn't want to eat the soup. The SS men laughed and said that we would yet eat it. I ate it on the very first day, because I was no longer so finicky. They distributed a very carefully measured square of bread. I don't remember exactly how many people shared that bread, but there were plenty of them.

The bread was also weighed, and someone devised a scale with cord at each side, lest, God forbid, someone get a slice weighing as much as a gram more than someone else got. I saved up bread to get myself shoes. I had saved up half a loaf, when it was stolen. If someone took sombody else's bread, that was a great disaster, for bread meant life.

Luckily for me, I could sing. God had blessed me with a pleasant voice, and to this day, for the past 40 years, I lead the Mussaf service in the High Holy Day services. In the evenings I would go from barrack to barrack singing Yiddish songs. The next day each barrack would give me a spoonful of Gemuese. There was a woman in the Sonderlager who had come from Austria with five children. She had obtained milk for the children, and she gave me some, for my singing. Later I met her in Israel.

When I got engaged, I visited my wife's relatives. She took me to an aunt of hers, my future father-in-law's sister. When we arrived, the aunt was sleeping, but her daughter, who had received us, jumped up with a shout: "The singer from Bergen!" I didn't remember her, but she had recognized me. In Bergen I had always worn a cap. She took off my fedora and put a cap on my head, saying: "Yes, that's him." She woke her mother and said: "Mama, the singer from Bergen is here!" This happened to me several times.

I think those songs had taken them back to their homes. I sang Yiddish songs that had been popular then Sabbath songs, family melodies. In Bergen-Belsen I had several friends from our hometown. They came along on my singing rounds as my assistants. I already had assistants, and they also enjoyed part of the "fees" I collected. It may be said that that is what kept me alive. I'm sure of that, because every gram of bread there meant: life.

Esther (Magdi) Unger (nee Fried)

Born 1928 in Sarret Udvari, Hungary. Effects of antisemitic policy on Jewish life from 1938. Extremist-antisemitic Nyilasok gangs attack Jews. Corresponds with cousin in Hungarian labor unit, May 1944. Nagyvarad ghetto. Auschwitz Birkenau, Ravensbrveik, Berlin- Scheinolz, Reinickendorf camp till April 1945. Death march to Sachsenhausen and Freienstadt till liberation. Attitude of Russians. To Budapest via Dresden and Prague. Father's fate. Bnai Akiva training camp in Hungary till move to Israel, June 1948.

Between trepidation and hope

Our family's daily life fluctuated between trepidation and hope. My parents read in the newspapers about the situation on the Russian front and about the Russian Army's rapid advance. They thought this might be our salvation. In fact, that wasn't far from the truth. We stayed in the house and spoke a great deal about the situation of the Jews. At long last I squeezed a promise out of my father that when the war was over we wouldn't go on living in Hungary we would go to Eretz Yisrael. I was 16. The previous winter, a close relationship had developed between me and my cousin Erno Berkovits. So it was only natural that we should write to each other when he was taken to the forced-labor camp. I managed to save one of his letters to me... Let's go back to Papa's fate and how our correspondence was found. My father was taken to a forced-labor camp four days before we were taken to the Nagyvarad ghetto. We got to say goodbye to each other at the railroad station. My father was released from the Hungarian forced-labor camp in September 1944 and died on Shevat 12, 5705-January 26, 1945 from a beating by the Russian "liberators." When the war ended, I went back to my native village. My heart pounded as I entered our house... I had no illusions... All I could hear was the voices of my dear ones echoing in that desolation... Papa had managed to fix up the house a bit for the surviving family members... Even my sewing-machine was among the items my father retrieved from the Gentile homes, and I managed to bring it along to Israel; I still have it. ...I roamed from room to room... In one room there was a solitary couch, on which my father, of blessed memory, had spent his nights... I remembered dear Papa, whom our whole family had loved so...and in the end had died alone, with no one at his bedside. Incidentally, he received the postcard I sent from Auschwitz care of neighbors. There were feathers all over my room. Hostile hands must have looked for valuables... I groped amid the feathers and found an envelope containing the letter of my cousin Erno and also the letter I had sent him. At that time I didn't fully appreciate the value of those letters. I have kept them as living mementoes of those times: "Dear Magda! In your letter you write that you never thought that this is what life would be like. I can say the same. Life has its disappointments. Life's disappointments or so we at least hope turn into pleasanter things. All we can do is believe and hope that everything will turn out all right. We mustn't lose `Hope' "Tikva" [the name of the Zionist hymn, today the Israeli national anthem]." And my letter: "Dear Erno! Your letter found us at home, thank God. I can't tell you how delighted we are when evening comes, giving us a chance to relax a bit. You probably also want to hear some good news, not just bad news, but I have no words of comfort at all to write you. `Let's have no illusions,' you write in your last letter. But that's all we have left. At such a time we at least forget a little. The thought of leaving for the ghetto is with us constantly. I can't decide which of my effects to take along. The thought that we'll have to leave everything behind is a painful one. You wrote that the torrent swept you along. Now it has swept us, too. The question is: will we stay afloat, or will we sink? God only knows. But we go on hoping the only thing keeping us alive is hope."

Shmuel Nesher (Adler)

Born 1924 in Satoraljaujhely, Hungary. Details about town: Torah scholars, congregations, charitable institutions, schools. Parents' home. Attitude of Hungarians to Jews. Youth movements. Germans enter Hungary, March 19, 1944. Ghetto established. Deported to Auschwitz. Chopping down trees in Kittlitzstreben camp. Russians approach weak people remain in camp, stronger ones taken on march. Liberated by Russians. In Heinau. Russians' attitude to liberated people. Lignitz camp for Slovaks. 28 Hungarian SS men seized in Lignitz. Vicissitudes on way to Hungary. In Satoraljaujhely and Budapest. First Zionist training camp in Hungary. Persuading Jews to go to Eretz Yisrael. Set out for Eretz Yisrael via Austria. In infirmary in Gnadenwald and Italy. From Venice by ship to Eretz Yisrael. Deported to Cyprus detention camp. Liberated. To Eretz Yisrael on s.s. Galila.

Conversation with the Almighty

The Lageraeltester at Kittlitzstreben was a convicted German criminal. You can well imagine how a person serving time for murdering his wife and two little children treated Jews. When he got into one of his sadistic moods, he would grab the first Jew unlucky enough to happen his way and beat him unconscious with his club. He would then pour water on him, reviving him, and then again beat him unconscious, again pour water on him, and again beat him. More than once I saw Jews die from the man's beatings. When he caught a Jew praying he would lay into him with his club. "You got nobody to believe in!" he would scream. "You got nobody to depend on! We're the lords and masters here!"

At Kittlitzstreben I worked at chopping down trees in the forest. We walked about an hour to the forest and about an hour back to camp. I used the time to say the prayers I knew by heart: the Kriat Shma, Shmoneh Essray. Then I usually carried on a conversation with the Blessed Holy One.

I asked the Blessed Holy One: "Tell me, what did we do to deserve this? What is our sin? How are we worse than any other nation? Is it because we wouldn't go to Eretz Yisrael?" And I told the Blessed Holy One the story about the Rebbe of Koznitz, who said: Because we don't know how to pray right.

The Rebbe related:The Russian Tsar was waging a war against an enemy, and the Crown Prince was participating in that war. A soldier saw an enemy coming with his sword drawn to kill the Crown Prince, and he jumped in front of the horse and chased him away. The enemy's sword missed the mark and the Crown Prince was saved. The Tsar summoned the soldier and said to him: "Listen, soldier, you saved the Crown Prince's life.

Ask for whatever you want and I'll give it to you." The soldier said: "I'm in Battalion X. The battalion commander is a bad man. Couldn't you please transfer him to another battalion?" The Tsar said: "You fool! Why don't you ask me to transfer you to another place and make you commander?" It's the same with us Jews. We are always praying to God to move us from one king to another: if there is a country that has a good king, move us to that country. We don't know how to pray right that is our problem: we don't pray for the Redemption. Is that why we've got all this coming to us? Do you mean to say, Master of the Universe, that ours is the worst generation ever? Do we really deserve such treatment, Master of the Universe? What is it You want? Do You want to exterminate the Jewish People? Now I'm talking about myself. I'm not asking You, Master of the Universe, to satiate me with food. All I ask is that You bring us the Redemption. I'm not asking You to give me easier work. Just give me the strength to bear it!! That's all I ask."

That was my daily prayer: "May our eyes behold Your merciful return to Zion;" and: "Return us to You and we will return; renew our days as of old;" and: " Guardian of Israel, save the remnant of Israel." Prayer from the heart. Saying those prayers today isn't as meaningful as it was then. Only Jews in such a dire predicament can fully appreciate their significance.

Naftali Weinberger

Born 1928 in Szarvas, Hungary. Jewish communal life before German arrival. From Szarvas ghetto to Szolnok, April 1944. By train to Strasshof camp, Austria. Labor at Potendorf farm till November 1944. Back to Strasshof and deported to Bergen-Belsen, end November. In Bergen-Belsen, evacuation and march to railroad station. Liberated by Americans. In Farsleben and Millersleben after liberation.

For Papa

In April they started evacuating the people from the Bergen-Belsen camp. The first transport was of Hungarian and Dutch Jews from the Sonderlager. Each of us was given bread and a can of preserves. We started marching to the railway station 6-7 kilometers away. My father was very feeble. His face was swollen. He had diarrhea and was barely able to walk. Mama and my sisters carried their own bundles while I carried mine and Papa's. We had marched about 3-4 kilometers when I realized it was getting dark, and I rushed ahead to the head of the procession. On reaching the train, I and several acquaintances seized places in one of the wagons and I rushed back to help Papa. I knew what was likely to happen to anyone left behind. The road was a difficult one, climbing and descending sharply. On either side was the German army.

Among the soldiers were many Volksdeutsche, ethnic Germans, many of them from Hungary, who hurled threats and curses at us as we passed. When I got to the top of a hill, an SS man, one of those escorting our procession, who spoke fluent Hungarian and was apparently a Volksdeutscher, stopped me and asked: "Is that your father sitting on that rock up there?" I saw Papa sitting on a rock. Apparently, he was unable to go on. The soldier said he would wait till I got him. "If you don't bring him," he said, "the soldiers will kill him." I, a 16-year-old boy, ran madly. Papa hugged me and said: "I thought I'd never see you again." He was totally spent. I carried him on my shoulders till we got to that soldier. We walked together to try to catch up to the rear of the procession. Along the way the soldiers from the camps threatened us, and the SS soldier threatened them back, waving his gun at them and shouting: "Go be heroes at the front, not here against unarmed people!" Gradually, with our last strength, we reached the train.

We were liberated by the Americans. My father was very weak and was sent to the hospital and Farsleben. We were sent to Millersleben. We lived in villas that had been occupied by SS people. When I visited the hospital, I couldn't find my father. He had died a week after the liberation, on the 8th of [the Jewish month] Iyar. He had been buried in a mass grave in a corner of the Farsleben cemetery. The man in charge of the cemetery told me that a number of people had been buried together that day, and there was no way of knowing where Papa was buried. Before I left I asked the chairman of the Magdeburg Jewish community to see to it that the cemetery was tended, that a fence was built around it, and that a monument to the victims was put up.

Two days after the liberation I met that SS soldier, dressed in civilian clothes. He said he wanted to go home to his family, and he had no time to go to a prisoner-of-war camp. He asked me not to tell anyone about him. I promised: "I won't say a word. But if someone else informs on you..." I don't know if anyone did. I never set eyes on him again. I only want to say that I couldn't have informed on him. In any event they were released a few months later.

Shmuel Roth

Born 1919 in Sziget, Transylvania. Conscripted into labour unit, 1941. With unit in Munkacs. Relations between Jews of Budapest and rural Jews, and with Hungarian command. Hungarian officer's antisemitism and his removal after contact between commanding officer and Budapest Jewish Community Council. Witnesses liquidation of Polish Jews at Drohobycz. Hungarian Jews' reaction to his report. Jewish woman murdered by Germans buried at commanding officer's initiative. Efforts to avoid being sent to Ukrainian front. Events in Drohobycz, April 1943: hundreds of labor-unit members die in arson attempt. Service as cook in unit of Hungarian and German officers. Gets out of march toward Austria. Famine in Budapest ghetto during fighting of January 1945. To Israel via Cyprus detention, 1949.

The officer who sided with us

There were various kinds of Hungarian officers. Some were sadists, whose cruelty is indescribable. Fortunately, our commanding officer was a refined person. I had a cousin in Munkacs. One evening I went to visit her, and came back at 12 midnight. This officer had come to make a checkup and saw me arriving. He asked me where I had been. I didn't have a pass, and it was forbidden to leave the camp without a pass. I said to him: "My cousin lives here in Munkacs, and I heard she's sick, so I went to see her." He said: "You're lucky: if the rest of them weren't asleep, I'd have given you a couple of slaps that would have made you remember me the rest of your life." He let me off without anything. Why am I telling all this? To show his attitude. It may be said that he treated us like a father. And since the commander was a good, brave man, the other members of the command staff couldn't just do as they pleased.

I was the unit's chief cook, and he I don't know why liked me a lot. After we had seen the murder of Polish Jews by the Germans in Drohobycz, one of the sergeants called us all out to the assembly area. The commander arrived, and showed us a girl's hand, which a dog had found and brought over. The hand was still fresh. You could tell by the fingrnails that it was a girl's hand. He said: "Look, today is Sunday. For me this is a religious holy day, but we're allowed to work; not like with you people. We have to find the place from which this hand was taken.

If anybody wants to go look I'm ready to go along with you." We agreed, of course. We broke up into small groups and went searching. Finally we found a communications trench about 50 meters long, one of many trenches in the area, and that is where we found the bodies. It was the hand of one of the girls the Germans had murdered there three or four days earlier.

The corpses were covered by two or three centimeters of earth, and we worked till long after dark to bury them one meter deep. He wanted us to mark the place with a cross, but we decided not to do so. All we did was put a marker saying that "people" were buried there. I came home and reported that Jews were being executed. They simply refused to believe me. They reacted coldly, as though to say: "It won't happen to me! That's not going to happen to me!"

Another story: Shortly before the Russians routed the Hungarians and Germans in December 1942, we were ordered to go to the Ukraine via the Czech border. We arrived at Gilanta. Our officer knew what going to the front would mean for us. There were some Jewish doctors in our unit, and we decided on the following stratagem: We would cause our unit to seem to have a typhus epidemic, so we would be quarantined. How? Five of us including me drank coffee with a lot of salt, which caused us all to have fever. And five men coming down with a fever is cause to suspect typhus. When the mayor of Gilanta refused to let us enter the city, the commander said to him: "Give me a note signed by you allowing me to proceed and cause the infection of thousands of Hungarian and German soldiers." The mayor refused to sign, so we were in quarantine in Gilanta for a month and a half. Our fevers disappeared after a day. But orders are orders: people with typhus have to be in quarantine, and, just to make sure, for a month and a half.

Shalom Reichman

Born 1919 in Mezokovacshaza village, Hungary. Jewish life in area. Conscripted into Hungarian Army cavalry, then to labour units. In Munkacs, Nagybanya, Sasregem. Discharged, re-conscripted at Margitta. Work in Budapest area. Assigned to east. In Scole region till September 1944. March toward Austrian border. Work at Nagykaniza till March 1945. Death march toward Mauthausen. Liberated at Gunskirchen. Return to Mezokovacshaza. Bnai Akiva religious Zionist youth movement training camp. To Israel, 1948.

The Liberation

We were liberated at Gunskirchen early in May. The first moments of the liberation that is a story in itself. I almost lost my life then. Right after the liberation my friend and I saw people helping themselves to margarine, synthetic honey, bread. My friend said that we should go grab some for ourselves, only whoever carried bread in the open was taking a chance. People pounced on you and everybody got filthy in the mud you, those who pounced on you, the bread, and nobody got to eat it.

A few days before the liberation I removed a knapsack from somebody who had died and found toothpaste in it. That was a good thing. I and my friend licked it several times a day, to have a good taste in our mouths. I made a deal to give away the knapsack in exchange for half a sugar beet, only the knapsack was taken but I never got the sugar beet. In the early days of the liberation my friend sent me to "get something too." I saw people attacking the warehouses and stockrooms. I took my knapsack and went foraging. I found a supply of sugar beet and filled my knapsack with it. Then I found salt. What a find salt! A very important item. You could get anything in exchange for salt. I filled both pockets with salt. In the stockrooms I found a German army coat and a duffel bag, which I also filled with pieces of sugar beet. As I headed back, some Jew came toward me carrying a gun. It seems that the departing Germans had left some weapons behind, and some of the Jews had helped themselves to guns. He came toward me: "What have you got there?" I said: "Here, you want it? Take it." I left him all my treasures. When I got back my friend yelled at me: "Everybody else brings margarine, sugar and you?!..." I went back for another try.

In the course of these searches I found sugar. There were stockrooms of sugar, mountains of sugar. I immediately sensed that it was sugar, as I had been a grocer in Hungary. I took some and tasted it. Sugar! And I immediately started eating. Suddenly I took hold of myself: "What are you doing? We've been liberated! Why are you pouncing on the sugar that way?" I found a small towel and filled it with two kilograms of sugar, and then I tied up the towel and hid it under the sugar beet, so no one should see it. My friend said: "That's all you brought?! Why didn't you dump the beet and bring sugar instead?" I went back to bring more sugar. This time there was a mob there, only the sugar sack wasn't open. It was like when a fire breaks out inside a house, and everybody charges the door to try to break out, only the door opens inward, so they can't open it. It was impossible to open the sugar sack, because nobody would let go of it. I said: "Get off the sack! Let's lift it up! Let's open it!" Nobody would budge. I was almost trampled to death. I said to myself: "To hell with the sugar, we're free! I don't want to die now!" There was no place for me to budge, but somehow I don't know how I mustered all my strength and managed to get out from under the mountain of people covering me.

The sugar I brought came in handy. We had something to eat. Only the next day we were very thirsty, and there was no drinking water in the camp. There was a filthy brook, but no water to drink. We traded a cup of sugar for half a cup of water which had to do for my friend and me.

Twin Holocaust Survivors Describe Arriving at Auschwitz

Identical twin sisters Iudit Barnea and Lia Huber (nées Tchengar) were born in 1937 in the town of ?imleul Silvaniei (Szilagysomlyo), Transylvania. In 1940, Transylvania was annexed to Hungary, and in June 1942 their father Zvi was taken to a forced labor unit on the Russian front.

With the German conquest of Hungary in March 1944, the familys property and belongings were confiscated, and they were forced to wear a yellow star. In May 1944 Iudit, Lia and their mother, Miriam-Rachel, were interned in a ghetto, and the following month they were deported to Auschwitz, along with many other members of their family. 

At Auschwitz, Iudit and Lia suffered the infamous medical experiments of Josef Mengele. The twins always stayed close together. Every night, their mother would sneak into their block and give them her meager portion of bread. She would also take them outside, in all weathers, to wash them and comb their hair, and thus preventing them from getting infested by lice and being doomed to the gas chambers. One day, as Mengele was experimenting on the girls, Miriam-Rachel burst into the shack and begged him to stop. In response, she was injected with a concoction that nearly killed her, and caused her permanent deafness.

In January 1945 the girls and their mother were liberated by the Red Army. They returned to ?imleul Silvaniei, and in August 1945 they were reunited with their father, who had survived many camps. In 1960 the family immigrated to Israel. Both girls married: Lia and her husband Jean have two children and seven grandchildren; Iudit and Moshe have three children and five grandchildren.

Mengele's Children: The Twins of Auschwitz

by Jennifer Rosenberg


.Dr. Mengele relaxing at Solahutte 
retreat outside of Auschwitz. The notorious doctor of Auschwitz, Josef Mengele, has become an enigma of the twentieth century. Mengele's handsome physical appearance, fastidious dress, and calm demeanor greatly contradicted his attraction to murder and gruesome experiments.

Mengele's seeming omnipresence at the ramp as well as his fascination with twins have incited images of a mad, evil monster. His ability to elude capture had increased his notoriety as well as given him a mystical and devious persona.

But in May 1943, Mengele entered Auschwitz as an educated, experienced, medical researcher. With funding for his experiments, he worked alongside some of the top medical researchers of the time. Anxious to make a name for himself, Mengele searched for the secrets of heredity. The Nazi ideal of the future would benefit from the help of genetics: if Aryan women could assuredly give birth to twins who were sure to be blond and blue eyed - then the future could be saved.

Mengele, as he learned while working for Professor Otmar Freiherr von Vershuer, believed that twins held these secrets. Auschwitz seemed the best location for such research because of the large number of available twins to use as specimens.

The Ramp

Mengele took his turn as the selector on the ramp, but unlike most of the other selectors, he arrived sober. With a small flick of his finger or riding crop, a person would either be sent to the left or to the right, to the gas chamber or to hard labor. Mengele would get very excited when finding twins. The other SS who helped unload the transports had been given special instructions to find twins, dwarfs, giants, or anyone else with a unique hereditary trait like a club foot or heterochromia (each eye a different color). Mengele's seeming omnipresence on the ramp stemmed not only from his selection duty, but his additional appearance when it was not his turn as selector to ensure twins would not be missed.


Renate and Rene Guttmann were subjected to injection and x-ray experiments by Josef Mengele.
(Courtesy of USHMM) As the unsuspecting people were herded off the train and ordered into separate lines, SS would shout "Zwillinge!" ("twins!"). Parents were forced to make a quick decision. Unsure of their situation, already being separated from family members when forced to form lines, seeing barbed wire, smelling an unfamiliar stench - was it good or bad to be a twin?

Some parents did announce their twins. Some relatives, friends, or neighbors would announce the twins. Some mothers tried to hide their twins. The SS and Mengele would search through the surging ranks of people in search of twins and anyone with unusual traits. While many twins were either announced or discovered, some sets of twins were successfully hidden and walked with their mother into the gas chamber.

Which was the right decision - to announce or not to announce their twins? I don't think there necessarily was one. Approximately three thousand twins were pulled from the masses on the ramp, most of them children; only around two hundred survived.

When the twins were found, they were taken away from their parents.

Once the SS guard knew we were twins, Miriam and I were taken away from our mother, without any warning or explanation.

Our screams fell on deaf ears. I remember looking back and seeing my mother's arms stretched out in despair as we were led away by a soldier.

That was the last time I saw her.

As the twins were led away to be processed, their parents and family stayed on the ramp and went through selection. Occasionally, if the twins were very young Mengele would allow the mother to join her children in order for their health to be assured for the experiments.


After the twins had been taken from their parents, they were taken to the showers. Since they were "Mengele's children," they were treated differently than other prisoners. Besides the obvious, suffering through medical experiments, the twins were often allowed to keep their hair and allowed to keep their own clothes.

The twins were then tattooed. They were given a number from a special sequence. They were then taken to the twin's barracks where they were required to fill out a form. The form asked for a brief history and basic measurements such as age and height. Many of the twins were too young to fill the form out by themselves so the Zwillingsvater ("Twin's Father") helped them. (This inmate was assigned to the job of taking care of the male twins.) Once the form was filled out, the twins were taken to Mengele. Mengele asked them more questions and looked for any unusual traits.

Life for the Twins

Each morning, life for the twins began at six o'clock. The twins were required to report for roll call in front of their barracks no matter what the weather. After roll call, they ate a small breakfast. Then each morning, Mengele would appear for an inspection.

Mengele's presence did not necessarily connote fear in the children. He was often known to appear with pockets full of candy and chocolates, to pat them on the head, to talk with them, and sometimes even play. Many of the children, especially the younger ones, called him "Uncle Mengele."

The twins were given brief instruction in makeshift "classes" and were sometimes even allowed to play soccer. The children were not required to do hard work and had jobs like being a messenger. Twins were also spared from punishments as well as from the frequent selections within the camp.

Conditions for the twins were one of the best in Auschwitz, until the trucks came to take them to the experiments.


Generally, every day, every twin had to have blood drawn.

Blood, often in large quantities, was drawn from twins' fingers and arms, and sometimes both their arms simultaneously. The youngest children, whose arms and hands were very small, suffered the most: Blood was drawn from their necks, a painful and frightening procedure.

It was estimated that approximately ten cubic centimeters of blood was drawn daily.

Besides having blood drawn, the twins were to undergo various medical experiments. Mengele kept his exact reasoning for his experiments a secret. Many of the twins that he experimented on weren't sure for what purpose the individual experiments were for nor what exactly what was being injected or done to them.

Each morning, the twins would wonder what was in store for them that day. Would their number be called? If yes, then the trucks would pick them up and take them to one of several laboratories.

  • Measurements

The twins were forced to undress and lay next to each other. Then every detail of their anatomy was carefully examined, studied, and measured. What was the same was deemed to be hereditary and was different was deemed to be the result of the environment. These tests would last for several hours.

  • Blood

Blood tests included mass transfusions of blood from one twin to another.

  • Eyes

In attempts to fabricate blue eyes, drops or injections of chemicals would be put in the eyes. This often caused severe pain, infections, and temporary or permanent blindness.

  • Shots and Diseases

Mysterious injections that caused severe pain. Injections into the spine and spinal taps with no anesthesia. Diseases, including typhus and tuberculosis, would be purposely given to one twin and not the other. When one died, the other was often killed to examine and compare the effects of the disease.

  • Surgeries

Various surgeries without anesthesia including organ removal, castration, and amputations.

One day, my twin brother, Tibi, was taken away for some special experiments. Dr. Mengele had always been more interested in Tibi. I am not sure why - perhaps because he was the older twin.

Mengele made several operations on Tibi. One surgery on his spine left my brother paralyzed. He could not walk anymore. Then they took out his sexual organs. After the fourth operation, I did not see Tibi anymore.

I cannot tell you how I felt. It is impossible to put into words how I felt. They had taken away my father, my mother, my two older brothers - and now, my twin.

  • Death

Dr Miklos Nyiszli was Mengele's prisoner pathologist. The autopsies became the final experiment. Dr. Nyiszli performed autopsies on twins whom had died from the experiments or whom had been purposely killed just for after-death measurements and examination. Some of the twins had been stabbed with a needle that pierced their heart and then were injected with chloroform or phenol which caused near immediate blood coagulation and death.

Some of the organs, eyes, blood samples, and tissues would be sent to Verschuer for further study.

Meet the Notorious Dr. Joseph Mengele

Dr Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death, was a Nazi German SS officer and a physician in Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp. He gained notoriety chiefly for being one of the SS physicians who supervised the selection of arriving transports of prisoners, determining who was to be killed and who was to become a forced laborer, and for performing human experiments of dubious scientific value on camp inmates including attempts to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children's eyes, various amputations of limbs, and shock treatments. Most of those Mengele experimented on died, either due to the experiments or later infections. On several occasions, he killed subjects simply to be able to dissect them afterwards.


At the end of the war, Mengele was captured but paradoxically released from a U.S. detention center and fled abroad. He remained in hiding in Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil until his death of an apparent drowning in 1979.

Dr. Mengele's home in Hohenau, Itapua, Paraguay. Photo taken August 2007.


Mengele promoted medical experimentation on inmates, especially dwarfs and twins. He is said to have supervised an operation by which two Gypsy children were sewn together to create Siamses twins; the hands of the children became badly infected where the veins had been resected. (Snyder)

"The only firsthand evidence on these experiments comes from a handful of survivors and from a Jewish doctor, Miklos Nyiszli, who worked under Mengele as a pathologist. Mengele subjected his victims - twins and dwarfs aged two and above - to clinical examinations, blood tests, X rays, and anthropological measurements. In the case of the twins, he drew sketches of each twin, for comparison. He also injected his victims with various substances, dripping chemicals into their eyes (apparently in an attempt to change their color).

He then killed them himself by injecting chloroform into their hearts, so as to carry out comparative pathological examinations of their internal organs. Mengele's purpose, according to Dr. Nyiszli, was to establish the genetic cause for the birth of twins, in order to facilitate the formulation of a program for doubling the birthrate of the 'Aryan' race. The experiments on twins affected 180 persons, adults and children.

Mengele also carried out a large number of experiments in the field of contageous diseases, (typhoid and tuberculosis) to find out how human beings of different races withstood these diseases. He used Gypsy twins for this purpose. Mengele's experiments combined scientific (perhaps even important) research with the racist and ideological aims of the Nazi regime. which made use of government offices, scientific institutions, and concentration camps.

From the scanty information available, it appears that his research differed from the other medical experiments in that the victims' death was programmed into his experiments and formed a central element in it."
(Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 964)

Selected Links:

Dr. Mengele (right) relaxing at Solahutte retreat outside of Auschwitz with Richard Baer (commandant of the Auschwitz Camp) and with other members of the "Master Race."


When liberation came, it came quickly. One night in January 1945, as ten-year-old Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister Miriam lay in their bunks at Auschwitz-Birkenau, they were suddenly awoken by a huge explosion. 

Outside, the winter sky was red with flames. 

The Nazis had blown up the crematoria where the bodies of hundreds of thousands of Jews had been burned, for fear that the approaching Soviet Army would discover them. 

Facing the unknown: Children liberated from Auschwitz in 1945

Moments later, Eva and Miriam were forced by guards out of their barracks with all the other young twins in Birkenau and marched by the SS down the road to the main camp at Auschwitz, one-and-a-half miles away. 

It was a miracle that any of them were alive, for all had been subject to Dr Mengele's evil medical experiments in 'hereditary biology'.

In one experiment, Eva had been injected with a disease that Mengele wanted to study. She had become extremely ill - but kept telling herself she must survive. 

'If I had died, my twin sister Miriam would have been killed with an injection to the heart and then Mengele would have done the comparative autopsies,' she explained later.

Yet now Eva was enduring another nightmare as the twins were frog-marched towards the main Auschwitz camp in the dark, their gaunt expressions occasionally illuminated by the flames and flashes of the artillery of the Red Army. 

Those children who could not continue were shot, their bodies left by the roadside.

Eva made it to Auschwitz. And it was there, shortly afterwards, that she realised her suffering might finally be over when one of the women in the barracks started shouting: 'We're free! We're free!' 

Nightmare: One million Jews were killed at Auschwitz, but the Russian Army was largely indifferent to their suffering and keen to repress the horrors of the camp


Eva ran to the door of her hut, but could see nothing in the snow. Only after some minutes could she make out Red Army soldiers dressed in white camouflage coats. 

'We ran up to them, and they gave us hugs, cookies and chocolates,' she remembers. 

'Being so alone, a hug meant more than anybody could imagine because that replaced the human warmth we were starving for. 

'We were not only starved for food but we were starved for human kindness, and the Soviet Army did provide some of that.'

For the several thousands of weakened, emaciated prisoners who had survived Auschwitz, the Red Army soldiers of the First Ukrainian Front who liberated the camp of death on January 27, 1945, were the first friendly faces they had seen for years.

Undoubtedly, it was a moment for celebration. 

Just as the anniversary this week, 65 years on, is reason to rejoice that the unimaginable horror of Auschwitz and one of the darkest chapters in mankind's history had finally come to an end.

Yet while we acknowledge the liberation, we should also pause to consider what happened afterwards to those who survived the camp's appalling regime.

Notorious: People walk to a ceremony at the former Nazi death camp on Wednesday to mark 65 years since it was liberated

Although some Holocaust survivors truly found joy after being freed from Auschwitz, for many it was a very different story - and one that most definitely does not offer us a happy ending. 

A story of abuse, rape, theft and terrible betrayal. 

For a start, despite being friendly to the victims, the Russians were strangely unaffected by what they saw at Auschwitz. 

Indeed, the liberation was hardly reported in the Soviet Press - on February 2, 1945, there was a small report in Pravda, but hardly the coverage you would imagine.

One reason is that many of the Soviet soldiers who first arrived at Auschwitz had themselves endured horrors beyond imagining on the Eastern Front.

'I had seen towns destroyed,' said Ivan Martynushkin, one of the liberating soldiers. 'I had seen the destruction of villages. I had seen the suffering of our own people. 

'I had seen small children maimed. There was not one village which had not experienced this horror, this tragedy, these sufferings.'

To such soldiers, Auschwitz was just one more terrible sight in a war already overflowing with atrocity.

Another factor was that the Soviets wanted to make political capital out of the death camps. 

Betrayal: The train tracks leading to Auschwitz. Many survivors endured arduous journeys home just find their houses had been occupied by Soviets

Their Marxist propaganda downplayed the suffering of the Jews - even though out of the 1,100,000 people killed at Auschwitz, 1,000,000 <cite>were Jews - in order to claim that the murder factory was an example of fascist capitalism's exploitation of expendable workers.

In Soviet minds, there was little suggestion that this was genocide, no real belief that the souls they had liberated deserved special sympathy.

After liberating Auschwitz, the Red Army marched on to attack Berlin and 'trap the fascist beast in his lair'. 

And the survivors they had set free were left to find their own way home from the torment they had suffered in Poland.

This was a time when Eastern Europe was awash with the human debris of the war. 

Millions of civilians were travelling - some to try to get home, others to escape from the brutal Soviet advance. And the newly liberated prisoners of Auschwitz joined that great river of humanity.

Two of them were Helena Citronova and her elder sister. Helena was a pretty young woman in her early 20s; her sister was ten years her senior - but looked almost old enough to be her mother.

Helena and her sister trudged the roads of Poland by day, trying to get home to Czechoslovakia, and then sheltered in hedgerows or barns at night. 

Often, they would share whatever shelter they could find with other women, also newly freed from Nazi camps.

They soon discovered that, in the darkness, Red Army soldiers would search for women. 

'They were drunk - totally drunk,' says Helena. 'They were wild animals.' Red Army soldiers looked 'for cute girls and raped them'.

'Like wild animals, they hunted for girls at night' 

In order to try to escape the attentions of the Soviet soldiers, Helena would often hide, helped by her older sister who would make herself look as unattractive as possible. 

As a result, it was the other women cowering alongside them who suffered. 

And Helena was all too aware of exactly what was happening: 'I heard screaming until they were quiet and had no more strength left.

'There were cases where they were raped to death. They strangled them. 

'I turned my head because I didn't want to see because I couldn't help them.

'I was afraid they would rape my sister and me. They were animals. No matter where we hid, they found our hiding places and raped some of my girlfriends. 

'They did horrible things to them. Right up to the last minute we couldn't believe that we were still meant to survive.

' We thought if we didn't die of the Germans, we'd die of the Russians.'

One day, just weeks after she had been liberated from Auschwitz, and while she and her sister were still trying to make their way home, Helena managed to borrow a bicycle and went for a ride. 

It was one of the first moments of joy she had felt for years.

With the sun on her back, the wind in her air and the fresh countryside around her, she finally felt free. 

After she had ridden for a little while, she stopped by the side of the country road for a rest. Then she saw a Red Army soldier approaching on a motorbike. 

The soldier stopped and looked at Helena, bright and pretty in front of him.

'He'd seen a young woman,' says Helena. 'He threw his motorcycle down and a terrible battle began. 

'I don't know how I managed to get away from this cruel Russian soldier, this criminal. He hadn't had sex in a long time but he did not manage to rape me.

'I kicked and I bit and I screamed and he asked me all the time if I was German. I said: "No, I am Jewish from the camp." 

'I showed him the number on my arm. And at that moment he recoiled. Maybe he himself was Jewish. 

'I don't know what he was. He turned, stood up and ran.'

Helena and her sister finally managed to make it back to their home, and from there they emigrated to Israel, where at last they felt able to put their horrendous experiences at the hands of both the Nazis and the Red Army behind them.

The exact number of sexual attacks perpetrated by Soviet soldiers as they advanced through Germany, and then in the immediate aftermath of the war, will never be known, but the figure is certainly in the hundreds of thousands if not millions.

The revelation that women who had already endured so much mistreatment in camps such as Auschwitz were then subsequently raped by their liberators adds a grotesque level of nausea to the story that did not exist before.

Auschwitz prisoners, like Linda Breder, say - incredibly - that they found their homecoming even more appalling than their time in the camp.

Like many of the other liberated Auschwitz prisoners, Linda was wandering through Poland in the late spring and early summer of 1945 trying to make her way home. 

On the road, she and a group of other women accepted a lift in a truck from Soviet soldiers. 

'They didn't want us to come back, they didn't want to have to settle their accounts with us and look us in the eye'

They did this only because they were so tired they felt they couldn't carry on walking - but still they were afraid, because they were well aware that the Soviets 'often raped girls'.

After a few miles the truck stopped. The women were ordered to get down from the back. 

They were terrified, thinking they would all be raped. But the soldiers had another crime on their minds that day, and decided instead to rob them of everything they had. 

This was bad enough, but, as Linda Breder said, 'at least we escaped with our lives'.

Worse was to follow for Linda when she finally made it back to her home town of Stropkov in Slovakia. She walked down her old street and knocked on the door of her house. 

'The door was opened by a Russian or Ukrainian man,' she says. He was a complete stranger, and yet he was living in her house. 

'Go back to where you came from,' he said, and then slammed the door in her face.

With the Soviets now occupying Slovakia, Linda felt that she had no hope of recovering her past life.

She had been sustained through her time in Auschwitz by the belief that, one day, she could go home and rebuild her shattered existence. That hope was now destroyed.

She turned down the main street of her home town and realised the houses that had previously belonged to friends and relations were now occupied by people from the Soviet Union. Only the non-Jews remained.

'When I looked into the windows of those houses, I had a feeling that all eyes were gazing at me. 

'Everyone was keeping their distance as if I was poisoned or something. I left the next day and never went back. Going back was my worst experience. It was really catastrophic.'

And it wasn't just prisoners from Auschwitz who suffered on their release in 1945. 

Walter Fried was an Eastern European Jew who had been forced to work in a Nazi labour camp.

After liberation, he went back home, together with his father, to the town of Topolcany in Slovakia, where they discovered that their successful family-run restaurant business had now been 'nationalised' and given to someone else to manage.

But Walter's father knew that all was not completely lost. Because before he and his son had been taken away by the Nazis, they had given their most valuable possessions to good friends - Christians - for safekeeping.

Now Walter's father visited them, saying: 'We left a little package with you, and you know exactly what the package contained - there was gold, diamonds and money.'

But the friends had a different recollection. 'Ah,' they said in reply, 'all you left was a few clothes.'

'We gave you gold and diamonds!' said Walter's father, in despair. But it was useless; they never recovered their valuables. 

'We lost our last element of hope,' says Walter Fried, 'that the good Christian, who used to be a friend of the Jew, someone the Jew supported all the time - who used to be given food when he didn't have any money when he came to our restaurant - would respond like this.

'They didn't want us to come back, they didn't want to have to settle their accounts with us and look us in the eye. Our best friends from before became our worst enemies. 

'In 1945, we were more threatened than in 1942 when we left. That's how much hatred there was.'

But it was not just the Jews. Perhaps the worst treatment after liberation was inflicted by the Red Army on their own compatriots. 

Stalin had decreed there were no Soviet prisoners of war held by Germans, only 'betrayers of the motherland'.

This attitude could not have been expressed with more clarity than when units of the Red Army arrived at the concentration camp in southern Poland where Tatiana Nanieva was held.

Captured in 1942, when the hospital in which she worked had been encircled, she endured 2 1/2 years of imprisonment and in the process had to witness fellow Soviet prisoners being raped by Germans.

Then, in January 1945, she heard soldiers of the Red Army arriving, patriotic songs with their heads held high.

'Our feelings were joyful, elated,' she said. 'We believed normal life would begin again. I was yearning for my family.' 

But the joy of liberation turned to despair as two Red Army officers approached her, one of them obviously drunk. 

'So how did you live it up here? You whores!' he shouted. Tatiana felt her world collapse as he stood swaying, reaching for his pistol.

She ran, and managed to hide until the soldiers had sobered up. But whether they were drunk or sober, the charge against her was still clear: 'Betrayal of the motherland.'

For the 'crime' of allowing herself to be captured by the Germans, she was sentenced to six years in a Gulag and a lifetime's exile in Siberia.

No one has ever made a comprehensive study of the fate of all the survivors of Auschwitz and other camps who were then released into the maelstrom of Eastern Europe in 1945. 

Certainly, there will be some happy stories among them.

But the overwhelming feeling among many of those who were liberated is one of betrayal and crushed dreams of freedom and happiness.

• LAURENCE REES wrote Auschwitz: The Nazis And The Final Solution, and wrote and produced the BBC TV documentary series of the same name.

Read more:


Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, January 27, 1945




Survivors of Birkenau walk out of the camp after their liberation



The photograph above shows some of the 5,800 Birkenau survivors, most of whom look like well-fed Polish peasants, walking out of the camp shortly after Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945. In the background you can see the wooden barracks buildings, with windows under the roof, and the posts of the barbed wire fence. These survivors are walking along the interior camp road that bisects the Birkenau camp from north to south, connecting the women's camp with the new section of Birkenau, known as "Mexico." This is a still picture taken from the Soviet movie which is shown at the beginning of the tour at the Auschwitz Museum.

The tall, skinny guy wearing an arm band is Dr. Otto Wolken, a medical doctor in the Birkenau Quarantine camp, who stayed behind to help his fellow prisoners when the Birkenau camp was evacuated. He was the first witness to testify at the Auschwitz Trial, held by the German government in Frankfurt between 1963 and 1965.




Soviet soldier talks with elderly survivor at Birkenau camp


The young woman in the center of the photo above is a Communist political prisoner named Olga. This is a still shot from the Soviet movie shown at the Auschwitz Museum. Note the badge worn by the elderly woman, which indicates that she is a political prisoner.

The photo below shows some of the small children walking out of the Birkenau camp after they were liberated.




Child survivors of Birkenau death camp


Note the little girl on the far left in the front row in the photo above. She is on the left in the front row of the photo below, which is also a still shot taken from the documentary film made by the Soviet Union in February, after they had liberated the camp. It shows a few of the 611 children at Birkenau who greeted the liberators. They are holding out their arms to show their tattoos. Notice that the boy in the front is wearing a prison uniform which looks as though it would fit an adult. This same film clip is included in a film entitled "The Nazis: Nazi War Crimes," produced by the Soviet Union in which it was claimed that this same film clip was shot by the Nazis just before these children were killed at Babi Yar, a ravine near Kiev in the Ukraine.




Children who were liberated from Birkenau camp






Eva Mozes Kor is on the far right in this photo of Birkenau child survivors


Shown in the photo above are some of the 611 Jewish children in the Birkenau camp when it was liberated. The girl on the far right is Eva Mozes Kor, one of the twins who were forced to be the subjects of medical experiments done by Dr. Josef Mengele. Eva and her sister Miriam both survived; Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated four days before their 11th birthday. As of January 2008, Eva Kor was still alive and very active in Holocaust education in American schools.

In the photo below, the child on the far right is Miriam Mozes. Miriam died in 1995, after battling cancer and kidney disease that Eva Kor says stemmed from her treatment at Auschwitz.




Child survivors at Birkenau


In a talk to students at a school in Boonville, Indiana on January 13, 2010, Eva Kor said that she and her twin sister, Miriam, spent nine months in the Nazi concentration camp eating only 200 to 300 calories per day and being injected regularly with mysterious substances as part of medical experiments. In spite of their meager diet, Miriam appears to be overweight.




Still photo from Soviet film shows twins walking out of Birkenau camp


There is one sequence in the Soviet liberation film, shown in the still photo above, which captures a parade of twins walking out of the camp; these were the children who were selected to be the subjects of the medical experiments done by Dr. Josef Mengele. In the front row in the photo above are Miriam Mozes on the left and Eva Mozes on the right.

Auschwitz-Birkenau ~ Continued

Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau,




Prisoners liberated at Auschwitz main camp





Gypsy children at Birkenau death camp


In February 1945, shortly after the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp on January 27, 1945, the Soviet Union made a film which showed the survivors of the camp. The photos above are still shots from the film. The photo immediately above shows Gypsy children who had allegedly been subjected to Nazi medical experiments. Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoess claimed that these children were suffering from a disease called Noma which was similar to leprosy.

The Soviet film showed male prisoners who had allegedly been sterilized in medical experiments done at the Auschwitz camp.




Soviet doctor examines an Auschwitz survivor


The photo below shows a young survivor being cared for by a Soviet doctor wearing an arm band.




Soviet doctors carry young survivor out of building at Auschwitz main camp


Only a few dead bodies, including some that were lying in the snow, are shown in the Soviet film, and there are no prisoners shown who were dying of typhus, as in the Dachau or Bergen-Belsen camps.




Dead bodies found in the snow near the barracks at Birkenau





Soviet soldiers interview survivors at the Birkenau death camp


The Soviet movie about the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau shows that few of the recently liberated prisoners were cheering or smiling; some of them looked angry, especially the woman in the photograph below, who is shown in the movie standing perfectly still with a hostile expression on her face. The film shows a whole crowd of survivors, wrapped in heavy blankets, who appear to be angry or unhappy, maybe because they had been dragged out of their beds to pose for the cameras.


Auschwitz survivor shown in Russian liberation movie



Hungarian Jewish women arrive in Birkenau, May 26, 1944


The woman on the right in the front row, the one wearing a black coat, might be the same woman who is shown in the previous photo, standing at the barbed wire fence after the liberation of Birkenau. If it is the same woman, she has aged 10 years after being in the camp for only eight months.




Ruins of gas chamber at Birkenau, January 1945


After the Germans had abandoned the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex and marched thousands of the prisoners out on January 18, 1945, they came back on January 20 and blew up two of the crematoria buildings where the underground gas chambers were located. The photo above shows the ruins of one of these buildings with an unidentified building still standing in the background.

The ruins of two of the gas chamber buildings are shown in the two photos below.




Ruins of gas chamber building #2 at Birkenau





Ruins of gas chamber building #5 at Birkenau


The photo below shows the gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp, as it looked in January 1945 after the camp was liberated by the Soviet Union.




Krema I gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp, January 1945


This view of the gas chamber in Krema I at the main Auschwitz camp shows how the room looked when the camp was liberated by the Soviet Union on January 27, 1945. The gas chamber had been converted into an air raid shelter and a new door, shown in the background of the photo, had been cut. Notice that there is no door into the oven room on the left side; this door had been closed up when the room was converted into an air raid shelter.

  • January 27, 1945

“Forgiveness is as Personal as Chemotherapy – I do it for Myself”

story image(s)

At the age of ten, twins Eva and Miriam Mozes, were taken to Auschwitz where Dr Josef Mengele used them for medical experiments. Both survived, but Miriam died in 1993 when she developed cancer of the bladder as a consequence of the experiments done to her as a child. Eva Kor has since spoken explicitly about her experiences at Auschwitz and founded The C.A.N.D.L.E.S Holocaust museum in Indiana where she now lives. In 2003 the museum was destroyed in an arson attack, believed to be by white supremacists.

Miriam and I were part of a group of children who were alive for one reason only – to be used as human guinea pigs. During our time in Auschwitz we talked very little. Starved for food and human kindness, it took every ounce of strength just to stay alive. Because we were twins, we were used in a variety of experiments. Three times a week we’d be placed naked in a room, for 6-8 hours to be measured and studied . It was unbelievably demeaning.

In another type of experiment they took blood from one arm and gave us injections in the other. After one such injection I became very ill and was taken to the hospital. Dr Mengele came in the next day, looked at my fever chart and declared that I had only two weeks to live. For two weeks I was between life and death but I refused to die. If I had died, Mengele would have given Miriam a lethal injection in order to do a double autopsy. When I didn’t die he carried on experimenting with us and as a result Miriam’s kidneys stopped growing. They remained the size of a child’s all her life.

On January 27th 1945, four days before my 11th birthday, Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army. After 9 months in refugee camps I returned to my village in Romania to find that no one from my family had survived

Echoes from Auschwitz were a part of my life but I did not speak publicly about my experiences until 1978 after the television series ‘The Holocaust’ was aired. People would ask me about the experiments but I couldn’t remember very much so I wanted to find other twins who were liberated with me. I wrote to newspapers asking them to publish an appeal for other survivors of Mengele to contact me. By 1980 I was sending out 500 letters a year – but still no response. In desperation one day I decided to start an organisation in which I would make myself President. People are always impressed if they get a letter from a president, and it worked. Finally I was able to find other twin survivors and exchange memories. It was an immensely healing experience.

In 1993 I was invited to lecture to some doctors in Boston and asked if I could bring a Nazi doctor with me. I thought it was a mad request until I remembered that I’d once been in a documentary which had also featured a Dr Hans Munch from Auschwitz. I contacted him in Germany and he said he would meet with me for a videotaped interview to take to the conference. In July 1993 I was on my way to meet this Nazi doctor. I was so scared but when I arrived at his home he treated me with the utmost respect. I asked him if he’d seen the gas chambers. He said this was a nightmare he dealt with every day of his life. I was surprised that Nazis had nightmares too and asked him if he would come with me to Auschwitz to sign a document at the ruins of the gas chambers.. He said that he would love to do it.

In my desperate effort to find a meaningful “thank you” gift for Dr. Munch I searched the stores, and my heart, for many months. Then the idea of a Forgiveness letter came to my mind. I knew it would a meaningful gift, but it became a gift to myself as well, because I realized I was NOT a hopeless, powerless victim. When I asked a friend to check my spelling, she challenged me to forgive Dr. Mengele too. At first I was adamant that I could never forgive Dr Mengele but then I realised I had the power now…the power to forgive. It was my right to use it. No one could take it away.

On January 27 1995, at the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, I stood by the ruins of the gas chambers with my children -Dr. Alex Kor and Rina Kor – and with Dr Munch and his children and grandchild. Dr Munch signed his document about the operation of the gas chambers while I read my document of forgiveness and signed it. As I did that I felt a burden of pain was lifted from me. I was no longer in the grip of pain and hate; I was finally free.

The day I forgave the Nazis, privately I forgave my parents whom I hated all my life for not having saved me from Auschwitz. Children expect their parents to protect them, mine couldn’t. And then I forgave myself for hating my parents.

Forgiveness is really nothing more than an act of self-healing and self-empowerment. I call it a miracle medicine. It is free, it works and has no side effects.

I believe with every fibre of my being that every human being has the right to live without the pain of the past. For most people there is a big obstacle to forgiveness because society expects revenge. It seems we need to honour our victims but I always wonder if my dead loved ones would want me to live with pain and anger until the end of my life. Some survivors do not want to let go of the pain. They call me a traitor and accuse me of talking in their name. I have never done this. Forgiveness is as personal as chemotherapy – I do it for myself.....


Gertrud Gerda Levy

Passport issued to Gertrud Gerda Levy, who left Germany in August 1939 on a Children's Transport (Kindertransport) to Great Britain. Berlin, Germany, August 23, 1939.

Two Young Cousins

Two young cousins shortly before they were smuggled out of the Kovno ghetto. A Lithuanian family hid the children and both girls survived the war. Kovno, Lithuania, August 1943.

Jewish Refugee Children

Jewish refugee children, part of a Children's Transport (Kindertransport) from Germany, upon arrival in Harwich. Great Britain, December 12, 1938.

"The Poisonous Mushroom"

German children read an anti-Jewish propaganda book titled DER GIFTPILZ ( "The Poisonous Mushroom"). The girl on the left holds a companion volume, the translated title of which is "Trust No Fox." Germany, ca. 1938.

Refugee Girl

Refugee girl, part of a Children's Transport (Kindertransport), shortly after arrival in Harwich. Great Britain, December 2, 1938.

Refugee Children gather in the U.S. Zone of Occupation in Germany

Jewish refugee children gather in the U.S. zone of occupation in Germany, en route to Palestine. One refugee waves a Zionist flag. Frankfurt, Germany, April 10, 1946.

"This is a Photograph of me as I Wish I Looked all the Time.

Excerpt from Anne Frank's diary, October 10, 1942: "This is a photograph of me as I wish I looked all the time. Then I might still have a chance of getting to Hollywood. But now I am afraid I usually look quite different." Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Children in the Bad Reichenhall Displaced Persons Camp. Germany, 1945.

Children in the Bad Reichenhall Displaced Persons Camp. Germany, 1945.

Kloster Indersdorf Children's Center

A girl in the Kloster Indersdorf children's center who was photographed in an attempt to help locate surviving relatives. Such photographs of both Jewish and non-Jewish children were published in newspapers to facilitate the reunification of families. Germany, after May 1945.

An Emaciated Child

An emaciated child eats in the streets of the Warsaw ghetto. Warsaw, Poland, between 1940 and 1943.

Chaim Leib

An 18-month-old Jewish boy, Chaim Leib, who was murdered at the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland. Bukovina, Romania, 1942.


In May, 1944, a home for infant children was established in the village of Velpke, near Helmstedt, Germany. The home was for the offspring of Polish female slave labourers working on farms and food factories in the area. Food being scarce in Germany in 1944, more work was required from these Polish women whom the Nazi Bürgermeister of Velpke thought were spending too much time attending to their children.

Forcibly removed from their mothers, the children were incarcerated in an old building without running water, electric light or telephone. Ordered by the Reich Labour Office to take charge of the home and assume care of the infants, an ex teacher, Frau Billien, and four Polish and Russian girls were installed in the building.

Neither had any experience in running a clinic for infant children. When the Volkswagen factory at nearby Wolfsburg (where many of the women worked) required possession of the premises some months later it was discovered that eighty four Polish infants had died through sheer neglect, lack of mother's milk and a general disregard for their well being.

According to the village register the most common causes of death was general weakness, dysentery and intestinal catarrh. After the war, a British Military Court sentenced two of the the perpetrators to death and three to long terms of imprisonment.

Within the confines of the Wolkswagen factory a similar clinic was established under the care of the factory doctor, Dr Korbel, and a nurse, Ella Schmidt. The clinic was later moved to Rühen some twelve kilometres away. Between April, 1943 and April, 1945, it was established that around 400 infants had died there.

In 1944, 254 out of 310 admissions ended in death for these infants who lay in cots, weak with diarrhoea and infested with lice. Dr. Korbel was later tried and convicted by a British War Crimes Court and sentenced to death.

(The Volkswagen factory has in recent years traced many of its surviving former slave workers and paid each one of them the sum of DM 10,000)

  • May, 1944

Georges André Kohn

Georges André Kohn 

(April 23, 1932 – April 20, 1945)

Was a distant relative of the Rothschild banking family of England. His father Armand Edouard Kohn (1894–1962) was the manager of the Rothschild Hospital in Paris, and his mother Suzanne Jenny (née Netre; 1895–1945) was a first cousin of Bertrand Léopold Goldschmidt, son-in-law of Lionel Nathan de Rothschild. Georges' father was André was Jewish while but he, his mother and his elder brother and sisters were practicing Roman Catholics

Georges and his family were arrested in the last week of July, 1944 they were among a group of prominent Jews who had previously been awarded protective status in occupied France. Georges was among a group of 51 deportees deported in the last transport from the Drancy transit camp in France on August 17, 1944 a week prior to the liberation of Paris, along with his parents, grandmother Jeanne Marie (75), sisters Antoinette (22) and Rose Marie (18) and brother Philippe (21).

The railroad car they were deported in was attached to the end of the last train out of Drancy which also carried Drancy commandant SS Hauptsturmführer Alois Brunner and other German military personnel. They intended upon using the 51 Jewish deportees as potential hostages.

On the train ride east to the camps some of the prisoners escaped including Rose Marie and Phillipe Kohn. Georges wanted to go along with them but was stopped by his father who feared reprisals for the escapes on those who remained.

Armand went to Buchenwald and would survive the war, Suzanne and Antoinette were transported from Buchenwald to Bergen Belsen where both died a short while later, Jeanne Marie and Georges were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Jeanne Marie was gassed shortly after arrival. Georges was placed in Barracks No. 11, with other Jewish children. He quickly befriended Jacqueline Morgenstern who was close in age, was from France and also spoke French. Armand, Phillippe and Rose Marie survived the war.

Georges was among a group of twenty Jewish children chosen at the behest of Kurt Heissmeyer, by Josef Mengele to be sent from Auschwitz to Neuengamme concentration camp for medical experiments.

At Neuengamme Georges and the other children, 9 other boys and ten girls, from ages five to twelve, were infected with live tuberculosis bacilli by Heissmeyer.

They all later had their axillary lymph nodes surgically removed for study. In April 1945 the British Army was advancing through Lower Saxony the location of Neuengamme and the city of Hamburg. As the medical experiments conducted on the children would be grounds for being charged with war crimes, an order was issued from Berlin to dispose of the evidence, which included killing Georges and the other children.

On the night of April 20, 1945, Georges and the other children were brought to the Bullenhuser Damm School in Hamburg and hanged in the basement. His body was brought back to Neuengamme the next day and cremated.

  • April 23, 1932 – April 20, 1945

Solange and Albert Ben-David

Solange and Albert Ben-David, siblings born in Paris, who were deported together with their mother Fanny to the Sobibor death camp in Poland on transport No. 53, which left Drancy transit camp in France on March 25, 1943.
(photographed in Prewar France)


A group of children who crossed the Pyrenees into Spain with the help of the French Resistance, and made their way to the children’s home in the town of Estoril. Portugal, 1944

From right to left:
Top row

Second: Naomi Eilat
Fourth: Shlomo Arieli

Middle Row:
Fourth: Paul
Fifth: Gustav Manasse

Bottom row:
Fourth: Claude Buchinger


A group of children who crossed the Pyrenees into Spain with the help of the French Resistance and made their way to Portugal. At the children’s home in the town of Estoril. Portugal, 1944.

From right to left:
Top row

First: Naomi Eilat

Second row:
First: Gustav Manasse
Third: Shlomo Arieli

Third row:
First: Paul


A group of children who crossed the Pyrenees into Spain with the help of the French Resistance and made their way to Portugal. On their way to the town of Estoril. Lisbon, Portugal, 1944.

From right to left:
Top row

First: Nurit Reubinoff (Nelly Einhorn)
Second: Naomi Eilat
Third: Batya Ma’ayan (Berthe Einhorn)
Sixth: Shlomo Arieli

Bottom row:
Third: Toni Eliashar (Miquette Einhorn)
Fifth: Claude Buchinger

Brothers Emanuele and Raffaele Pacifici

Brothers Emanuele and Raffaele Pacifici (sons of Chief Rabbi Riccardo and Vanda Pacifici from Genoa, Italy) who were hidden in the Italian convent “Santa Marta” in Settignano. Photographed with sister Benedetta Vespignani and Jewish Brigade soldier Moshe Roshko, who found the brothers and took them out of the convent.
Settignano, Italy, 1944.

From right to left:
Top row:

First: Sister Benedetta Vespignani
Second: Moshe Roshko

Bottom row:
First: Raffaele Pacifici
Second: Emanuele Pacifici


A group of children and counselors from the children’s home of the "Zionist Coordination for the Redemption of Children in Poland", en route to Palestine. Lodz, Poland, 1946/1947.

From right to left:
Top row:

First: Chasia Bielicka-Bornstein
Second: Helena-Hela Leneman
Third: Kaplan

Second row:
First: Aviva Ostra
Third: Renya Sabynska
Fourth: Rachel Przemyslneitz-Leizon
Fifth: Hanan Przemyslneitz
Sixth: Miriam Perchikovitch

Third row:
First: Izchak Ostra
Second: Zipporah Przemyslneitz
Third: Rivka Przemyslneitz-Tal

Bottom row:
First: Margalit Brenner (Polcza Szliwinska)
Second: Zahava-Zusia Yismach
Third: Dan-Marcel Fuks
Fourth: Reuben Sadek
Fifth: Chaya Atlas (Genya Erlich)
Sixth: Chaim Kaplan


Children from the children’s home of the "Zionist Coordination for the Redemption of Children in Poland", with their counselor Chasia Bielicka-Bornstein, en route to Palestine. 1946/1947.

From right to left:
Top row:

Mendel Cohen

Bottom row:
First: Miriam Peleg (Mietka Michalska) 
Second: Chasia Bielicka-Bornstein
Third: Dina Revach (Danusia Michalska)

Children in Poland

Girls from the children’s home of the "Zionist Coordination for the Redemption of Children in Poland". Lodz, Poland, 1946/1947.

From right to left:
First: Hadassah Sat (Danusia Warszawska)
Second: Aviva Ostra 
Third: Bronia Sosnowska-Nagur


A Parade of Children

A parade of children from the children's home of the "Zionist Coordination for the Redemption of Children in Poland", accompanied by their counselor Chasia Bielicka-Bornstein. Zeilsheim DP camp, Germany, 1946.

From right to left:
First row:

First: Josef Alterwein-Tirosh
Second: Mendel Cohen
Third: Rachel Przemyslneitz-Leizon

Second row:
First: Chasia Bielicka-Bornstein
Second: Samek Kestenbaum-Armon

Third row:
First: Celina Szold-Mamet

Fifth row:
First: Batya Golan (Boske Klig)

Sixth row:
First: Mordechai Pozniak

Children's Memorial

Children's Memorial

This unique memorial, hollowed out from an underground cavern, is a tribute to the approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who perished during the Holocaust. Memorial candles, a customary Jewish tradition to remember the dead, are reflected infinitely in a dark and somber space, creating the impression of millions of stars shining in the firmament. The names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin can be heard in the background.
The children's names are taken from Pages of Testimony in the Hall of Names,Yad Vashem.

The Children's Memorial was designed by architect Moshe Safdie and built with the generous donation of Abe and Edita Spiegel, whose son Uziel was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of two and a half.

Mirjam and Hans (later known as Zwi) Hamerslag

Determined to help save Jewish children destined for deportation and death, Mirjam Waterman (subsequently Pinkhof) became active in the Dutch underground.

Her role was to take infants or small children whose parents were slated for deportation and to bring them to the Amstel train station. She would place the baby carriage where the other carriages were parked outside the station, go over to the platform and wait. A woman would approach her, Mirjam would hand her the child and the woman would then board the train together with the child.

After the transfer, Mirjam would disappear from the station leaving the baby carriage behind so as not to arouse suspicion. As secrecy was vital to protect the mission and the members of the underground, Mirjam would give over the children to another resistance member without ever knowing their destination.

In May 1943, Mirjam arrived at the train station with Mirjam Hamerslag (1½ yrs old) and her brother Hans (born just a few days earlier). Shortly after the exchange took place at the train station, the children’s’ parents Karel and Amalia Hamerslag were deported to Sobibor where they were murdered on May 28, 1943.

Mirjam and Hans (later known as Zwi) Hamerslag following the war in 1948

Mirjam and Hans reached a home in Hilversum under the management of Katy Mulder, recognized after the war as a Righteous Gentile for her actions. A young girl named Kitty Frank was placed in charge of the children’s care. Two weeks after their arrival, Kitty received a visit from her friend Mirjam Waterman. Needless to say, Mirjam was amazed to recognize the two small children that she had so recently helped to rescue.

Mirjam Waterman was later caught and sent to Bergen Belsen. Although subjected to harsh conditions and treatment for over a year, she managed to survive. After the war she was determined to return Hans and Mirjam Hamerslag to Jewish authorities. It was a difficult struggle but Mirjam persisted, and in 1949 the children were finally brought to Israel and adopted by the Araten family.

Katy Mulder, (known to the children in her care as “Aunt Katy”) kept the coat that Mirjam Hamerslag was wearing when she was brought to the home in Hilversum. She eventually gave it to Mirjam Waterman-Pinkhof who donated it to Yad Vashem along with other related items.

In the 1980’s, Zvi (formerly Hans) and Mirjam (Hamerslag-Araten) managed to locate the woman who had taken them from Mirjam Pinkhof at the train station and placed them in the home, thereby saving their lives.

Hetty Voute, their rescuer, had suffered greatly for her activities in the resistance. In 1943 she was arrested together with a friend Gisela Wieberdink-Söhnlein and together the two were deported to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp. In 1988 Hetty and Gisela were both honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

Zwi and Mirjam stayed in contact with Hetty until her death in 1999.

In a surprising coincidence, we discovered the names of both of these women embroidered on a cloth triangle received by a Jewish survivor of Ravensbrück Camp.

Kittie Frank, Holland, during the war


Contributor: bgill
Created: October 14, 2011 · Modified: December 7, 2011

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