As told to Mrs. Chaya Feigy Grossman
How did you spend your summers?
We stayed home and went swimming in the lake.
Was there anti-Semitism in town before the war began?
Hardly. We were friendly with the neighbors and they never outwardly showed any hate towards us.
Did you know what was happening in other parts of Europe at the time?
Many Polish people tried escaping from home. Those who came to our town begged my mother to send me and my sister away to Romania where it was still quiet. However, we didn’t want to leave my mother alone with my brothers, and we refused to go.
What laws were enforced before you were taken to the ghetto?
We had to wear a yellow star on our sleeve any time we left the house. A curfew was imposed, but in any case my mother was scared to send the girls out alone, for there was a great danger of Polish people attacking us.
Can you describe the scene that took place when the Germans invaded Satmar?
It was May of 1943. I remember that my mother was cooking kreplach when the order came to gather us together. We never got to eat those kreplach. We had to pack up quickly. We were taken to a ghetto in the more chassidish part of town. We took along just necessities and things that we could carry.
How long did you remain in the ghetto?
We remained in the ghetto for a very short time. When they began rounding us up, we had no idea where we were going. We never imagined that we were going to a place where they would execute us.
We were loaded onto cattle wagons; more people than could fit. There was a pail set down in the middle to use as the bathroom. We tried to give people their privacy by holding a blanket in front of them. My sister sat in a corner the entire time and cried. She refused to use the pail.
What greeted you upon your arrival in Auschwitz?
We were ordered to line up and Mengele stood there directing everyone to the right or to the left. I was sent to work, but I begged them to allow me to go with my mother and my sister. They pushed me away and I never saw them again.
Once we were in the barracks, we were called out for tzel apel. We had to line up outside and we were counted. If someone was missing we would stand for hours, until they were found.
Selections were made very often. Each time Mengele would appear and look each girl up and down. Anyone who seemed weak or sick was separated. I always tried to stand up straight and make myself look healthy and strong.
One time I saw three sisters together. Mengele decided that two of them looked strong and the third one looked weak. She was sent to a side room. It was a real miracle, but before these girls were taken away, we were able to sneak her out and take her back onto our line.
Some of the time in Auschwitz was spent doing nothing. The rest of the time we worked very hard, building roads and carrying bricks, while the sun beat down on our backs. We smelled the human flesh burning in the crematorium.
Every two weeks we were taken for disinfection. One time during these disinfection drills, my dress that I had given in to wash fell apart. They refused to give me a new one, and instead I was given a blanket. I walked around with the blanket for some time before I was given another dress.
to be continued…
These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.