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Henia Ring

Krzepice, Poland

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

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

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

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

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