Ida Tenenbaum (Part IV)

Did you know when it was Shabbos and Yom Tov?

There was a man who was in his forties, which to us seemed old, and he would constantly inform us. “Kinderlach, heint iz Pesach…heint iz Rosh Hashanah, heint iz Chanukah.” Although we had to go to work, at least we knew that it was Yom Tov.

Can you tell us more of the miracles that you witnessed?

One time while working on the machines, I was telling some jokes to keep us going. We were laughing as an S.S. passed by. She wrote down our numbers and reported us. When we stood on line at the appel platz to be counted, my number was called out. I was sent to the office of the Nazis. Here I was told that I was laughing instead of working and I was ordered to undress and lie down on the bench. I was going to get 25 whips with a leather belt. I was so thin already that the beating took off layers of skin. I couldn’t sit for months after. Then I was thrown down to the basement where there were rats and left there overnight. The next morning, I was taken back to the camp where I was given my ration of food.

It was a Shabbos morning and we decided that we were tired from a whole week and we were not going to work. Suddenly we heard footsteps of boots coming. We knew the Germans were coming. There was a bench against a wall that opened up and from there it was possible to jump down to the basement. That is what we did. When the Germans came in they saw an empty room. However, they opened the bench and found us. We were taken out and we were going to be taken away.

Suddenly, one of the kapos recognized me from my home town. He had been close to my father and had stayed at our house many times. Although he himself was not religious, he respected my father very much and loved him. Whenever he was around my father, he was careful not to smoke on Shabbos.

When this kapo noticed me he immediately took me as his prisoner while the other girls were taken by the other S.S. They took us outside and whipped us. I couldn’t understand why he was hitting me if he knew me so well. But then I understood that he had to show that he was doing his job. When the other S.S. finished lashing their prisoners they shackled them and put them in the place to be hanged. Everyone had to come out to see the punishment. But “my” kapo warned me never to skip work again and sent me back. He saved my life. It’s all nissim.

At one point while resting in the fields in the dark of night, I noticed German soldiers changing into civilian clothing. I pointed this out to my close friend who refused to believe it. When morning arrived, the soldiers were gone. That is when we realized we were free.

We were left on the fields, not knowing where we were. Bullets were flying. The Russians were attacking the Germans from one side and the Americans were attacking from the other side. We were frightened. We felt that we survived the Germans and now we would be killed by the bullets flying through the open fields. We had to find shelter from the rain and bullets.

to be continued…


These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.