Mrs. Henchie Stark (Part II)

As told to Mrs. Chaya Feigy Grossman

Please describe the situation in Auschwitz.

When we arrived in Auschwitz, we were met by the sight of people with shaven heads, tall people in short dresses, short people in long dresses. It was terrible. Whatever clothing or belongings we had smuggled along we were forced to throw over the barbed wires.

Suddenly, my mother spotted my younger sister Malky, who was 13 years old at the time, standing alone to the side, separated from the rest of the family. I ran over to her and a German tried to shoot me but I mingled into the crowd. In the meantime, the rest of my family — my parents along with most of my siblings — was killed. It was the second day of Shavuosthat’s my family’s yahrtzeit.

We had been at Auschwitz for six or eight months when Mengele started making his selections. There was a Polish girl named Rebecca in charge. She saw that my little sister was too young to work and sent her off the line. My sister ran to hide. She knew what would happen if she was found, because we had seen the smoke from the crematoriums. They caught her. She was screaming to me, “Losn mich nisht gein!” — “Don’t let go of me! Don’t let them take me!” But they murdered her. And I still had to be nice to this Rebecca; she was in charge and if I made her angry, I would be killed too.

At 4:00 in the morning we were called to the appel platz — the assembly ground — and at 6:00 we were on our way to work. We worked until 10:00 at night. We made ammunition and bombs. We didn’t know they could blow up until the first person was killed.

We were sent to a second camp where they made us carry stones from one place to another. The weak people were given heavy stones, while those a bit stronger were given the smaller stones.

One day, they came to draw blood from us for injured soldiers. They took pints and pints of it. If they couldn’t find a good vein, they pricked us as many times as necessary. If anyone cried, the soldiers would draw all the blood out of her body, until she died. Then we had to take the bodies out and leave them on the ground. We awaited our turn, watching in horror while the girls before us were tortured. We weren’t allowed to say a word.

My married sister Goldie was twenty, two years older than I. She was always hungry and crying. Some of the barracks had 1,000 girls sleeping in them. There were 15 girls to a bed, each one pulling for a bit of the blanket that we had. The roofs were broken; when it rained, it poured on us. I don’t know how we survived.

How did you keep your emunah through these horrors?

For some people it wasn’t easy. I cried, but I never asked, “What is the Ribbono shel Olam doing to us? Why is this happening to me?” I never questioned the Eibershter.

How long were you on the Death March?

We walked very far, for long periods at a time. We were given wooden shoes, which made it so much harder. When it snowed, it was impossible. We walked in rows of five girls across. We tried to hold on to each other.

We slept every night in stables. They were dirty and many people died from diseases. Many got shot along the way. Some of us tried to hide under haystacks. The Nazis knew this, so, in the morning, before we left, the soldiers would go through the haystacks and stick long knives into the hay to kill anyone hiding. Often we saw blood pouring through the hay.

to be continued


These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.