Were you able to keep any Yiddishkeit?
When we were in Kristianshtat, someone told us that Tishah B’Av would be on Sunday. On Shabbos afternoon when we had finished our work, we walked the four to five miles to our bunkers. We knew that we had to eat whatever we could get our hands on, because tomorrow we would have to fast.
There was a woman who was in charge of the whole bunker and when we were called for tzeil appel, we told her about our plans to fast on Tishah B’Av, not realizing of course how wicked she was. The next day when they called tzeil appel, she made sure that we stood in the hot, hot sun. We were given shovels and told to shovel sand from one hole to the other and back to the first hole.
When nighttime arrived and we thought we would finally be able to eat, they called tzeil appel again. They took us into the military dining room which was securely protected. Then one girl had to get up and tell them what each girl’s name and place of birth was, and what each girl was best at doing. When they were finally done and had prolonged our fast long enough, we were allowed to go back to our bunkers.
On Yom Kippur we fasted too. Before the fast we had nothing to eat, and afterwards we had nothing as well. There was a woman by the name of Mrs. Kupfer, who came from Warsaw, Poland. She knew Kol Nidrei by heart. She told us all to come to her bunker for Kol Nidrei. On the way we were stopped. We cried so hard that we couldn’t cry anymore.
Please tell me how you kept your emunah through the horrors of the Holocaust.
You always have to have emunah and bitachon. You are not allowed to give up. We never thought that we would live here in America. We never dreamed that we would have homes and children and yeshivos. We never imagined that we would have the opportunity to speak about it.
What can you tell the children today?
We are very lucky here in America that we belong to a generation that can keep Yiddishkeit freely. I am very grateful that I was able to bring into this world wonderful children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who are all frum and shomrei Torah umitzvos and who continue in the path of their elders. I, baruch Hashem, have tremendous nachas and thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu for it.
It’s impossible to believe that I survived this horror. At every simchah I think of Bergen-Belsen, and I realize more and more the nissim that I encountered. May we live to see Moshiach, speedily in our days.
These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.