As told to Mrs. Chaya Feigy Grossman
Please describe the death march and the period right before liberation.
Finally, we arrived at a barn. There were cows sleeping in the barn and we were supposed to sleep together with the cows. I went outside and I saw a cook from our hometown. I begged him to let me take two potatoes. So he said to me, “I’m going to go inside and you take some potatoes. When I scream, you run away.” I took many potatoes back to the barn where all the girls were sleeping. Everyone piled on top of me to grab a potato. They were all starving. My sisters had to pull me out from underneath where I was being crushed. I ended up with nothing but my life. When I see people throwing out food, I remind myself what a piece of bread meant to us.
When were you liberated?
The Russians were coming closer and closer, and we were taken deeper and deeper into Germany. And then, miraculously, in May of 1945, the gates were opened and we went free.
Once we were liberated and we were actually free, we were allowed into the German houses to destroy them and take what we wanted. But we weren’t interested in their things — we wanted food. They opened up the bakery and we filled our dresses with bread. We schlepped the bread back to the lager. Two of my sisters, who were not with me in the lager, died from typhus. People died from overeating. Their bodies could not handle it. They were thrown into graves with hundreds of people.
We stayed in the lager another couple of weeks. Then they transported us to Czechoslovakia and to Bucharest. A Jewish organization located in Bucharest gave everyone some money to continue on.
How did you keep your emunah through the horrors of the Holocaust?
We knew that we had no father and no mother. We had no choice but to believe that the Ribbono shel Olam would help us.
Have you ever revisited your hometown?
When I went back home, I did not see any Yidden. Later, I learned that of the 37 families who lived in our town, I was the only survivor. When we opened up the bunkers, the things we had hidden were still there. There wasn’t too much left because we took our jewelry with us. The non-Jews who were occupying our house were using our furniture and they claimed that everything was theirs. We were warned to go away, otherwise we would be shot.
Since then, I have gone back twice. I went to kever avos. The town is not the same as it was when we left. When we lived there, there wasn’t even electrical lighting. Of course, today they have electricity and cars, just like the rest of the world. I have a cousin living in Romania.
When were you reunited with family members?
Two months after I returned to my hometown, my fiancée met me there. I didn’t recognize him. We got married in his hometown in Romania in August [of 1945]. No one from his family suffered through Auschwitz.
My third sister, who was separated from us in Auschwitz, ended up in Sweden after the war. My husband and I went to Israel and when my sister found out that we were alive, she joined us in Israel. She died two years ago.
What can you tell the children today?
We have to thank Hashem for everything. The main thing is that you should all be matzliach in everything that you do.
These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.