Please tell me your name and where you were born.
My name is Rosa Weissman, née Braun. I was born in Ujhel, Hungary.
What memories can you share with us about your family?
My father was a chassidishe man (although we didn’t belong to a specific Chassidus) and a big talmid chacham. We were a family of nine children — seven boys and two girls. I was the middle child. The youngest died before we were taken to the ghetto. My father owned a seltzer factory. My mother took care of the house. She was the nicest person around.
What kind of education did you receive?
I went to a Jewish, Orthodox school until I was 15 years old.
When did you begin feeling the pressures of the war?
One day my father asked me to come with him outside to the backyard, for he wanted to discuss something in private. This is when he explained to me that there was a war and it was headed in the direction of our town. We were next. He didn’t tell me exact details for he didn’t know; however, he told me that we were going to be taken away; but he did not know where we would be taken to. My father told me that he was trying to arrange for me to be hidden at the home of a gentile. I began to cry. I refused to stay alone; I insisted on going along with my parents. My father tried to persuade me to stay. He explained to me about the hard work being given those who were deported.
My father enlightened me that young girls had a chance of survival. They were being taken to work as maids in non-Jewish homes or other jobs of this type. My father was afraid that I was too young to work. He told me that when they ask my age I should say that I am 18 years old.
Boys were rounded up to be taken to munkatabor, labor camp; my oldest brother was among them.
Did your family try to escape?
My family did not try to escape for we had nowhere to run; besides, no one really knew how bad the situation was. The people in the city wanted to make a bunker in the hills to hide in, but my father would not leave the family.
Did you spend time in a ghetto?
It was Shavuos time when a ghetto was formed in our city; however, our house was not situated within the ghetto walls. We had to pack up and move. We were allowed to take only a small amount of belongings with us as we were transported to the ghetto. Once in the ghetto, four to five families slept in one apartment. We were not given much to eat; the women in the house tried to cook some food from the minimal amount of ingredients they had brought with them.
During this time, in a nearby village, a chashuve Yid passed away. The village dwellers asked the Judenrat to allow a few men out of the ghetto in order to make a levayah. My father was chosen to go. My mother was terrified.
The weather was dismal and rainy. In the late afternoon, someone came by our living quarters to inform my mother that he saw my father running toward the ghetto. An S.S. officer noticed him and began chasing him. He tried to climb over a gate and that is when he slipped and fell. He was taken to a hospital where they casted his foot before sending him back to the ghetto.
We remained in the ghetto for a couple of weeks before the ghetto was liquidated. There were four transports. We were taken in the fourth selection — the last one.
What greeted you upon your arrival in Auschwitz?
When we finally arrived in Auschwitz and were let off the wagons, we were lined up in rows of five. I was holding onto my mother, as was my eight-year-old sister. Mengele was in the front, making his selections. We were not allowed to talk. When Mengele got to our line he pointed at me and said, “Vi alt bist du? — How old are you?” I answered that I was 18, just as my father had instructed me to do. Mengele separated me from my mother and sent me to the right. My mother and my little sister were sent to the left — to death.
to be continued…
These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.