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Judith Beker

Jonava, Lithuania

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

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

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

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


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