Sara Grossman (Part III)

What greeted you upon your arrival in Auschwitz? (continued)

In the winter time we were in Gross-Rosen. During the day we walked, and at night we were given to rest in a barn. It was really cold, and we did not have any blankets. The saving feature for me was that I slept next to a dead horse, which shielded me from the fierce winds on those cold nights. There were other groups who had already experienced this route. We took their leftover scraps of food.

There were many girls from Hungary who grew up in a wealthy environment; they didn’t even know how to hold a shovel. I knew what it meant to work, and I was meticulous about my work. The German soldier who was in charge of us gave me his bowl of soup as a reward for my work. I don’t know if I was even able to get one full spoon of soup; the other girls flocked around me, shivering and longing for some hot soup. I gave each girl a spoonful of soup. We were in Gross-Rosen for just a couple of months.

Did you know when it was Shabbos and Yom Tov?

Yes. On Yom Kippur we hid our ration of bread in our bunker. There were many who did not fast, and they found our hidden slice of bread. By the time the fast was over, the bread was gone. The soup turned to gel and we could not eat it. In essence, we fasted two days. Yet, we survived.

Can you tell us about liberation?

The Germans led us up into the hills. When we awoke in the morning, we were all alone; the Germans had suddenly all disappeared. We were at a loss for what to do. My foot was all swollen and I could barely walk. I managed on all fours to get down this hill. Here there were German houses. We entered one of them and asked them for some potatoes. The woman of the house couldn’t understand why we were asking for potatoes, why didn’t we ask for bread? Honestly, we didn’t know any better.

When the war was over, I was very sick. I was taken to a hospital not far from Prague. A priest arrived and wanted to pray for me, but I refused his offer. Then the American soldiers arrived and brought with them all kinds of food. We had to keep a watchful eye out for the Russian soldiers who were up to no good.

I traveled by train to Satmar. When I arrived home, there were many people who had already returned home, but I had no family. I was not interested in remaining in Satmar; I wanted to go to America. So, together with some friends, we walked at night and hid during the day, for fear of the Russians, until we arrived in Valshtat. There were many Americans there. I met my husband there and we got married. My oldest son Chaim Leib was born in Germany.

At that point I asked one of the soldiers to help me write a letter to my father in America. I gave him my father’s address at 750 Monroe Avenue. He contacted my father to let him know that I was alive.

My mother and my brother died after the war in Russia. I never saw them. When I arrived in America, my father had already remarried. I moved in with an aunt. My mother had one sister and one brother living in America who were not shomer Shabbos. My second son Avraham Meir was born here in America.

What message would you like to impart to future generation?

Be good to each other, help each other and love one another. Keep to the right derech in Torah and mitzvos.

These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.

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