Krulik's story
Hugo's story
Rose K's story
Abraham's story
Salek's story
Rose D's story
Roman's story
Pinchas' story

Rose D's story

Like many of the children who survived the Holocaust, Rose had happy memories of family life before the war. She particularly loved her father. 'He had great compassion for humanity, and was busy in all sorts of community organisations. He had a wonderful sense of humour, which helped us in the bad times.'

She remembers clearly the day of deportation, on the railway by cattle wagon, from the ghetto to the camp at Auschwitz. 'We could only take one suitcase each. When we were in the cattle car my father opened his suitcase, which was full of books instead of clothes. Everyone around was weeping, but my father managed to cheer them up by reading aloud from a humorous book. That was the last time I heard his voice. When the train stopped they took the men to one side, the women to the other. Soon after that a German hooked his cane around my mother's neck and pulled her away. When my sisters and I began to cry hysterically, the Germans told us that we would meet in heaven soon.

'We were stripped of our belongings and had our heads shaved. Then we were marched into the barracks of Auschwitz-Birkenau. There was a woman in command, and she had a whip in her hand. We were told to lie down on the cold ground, one on top of another, and that we'd better do as we were told or we'd be taken to the crematoriums where the smoke was coming out. I managed to sleep, and when I woke up I thought I had died and gone to hell.

'After three terrible weeks, one of my sisters fell ill. When Doctor Mengele made the selection, he pulled my sick sister one way, my other sister Zisi and me the other. Zisi then made an extraordinary sacrifice. She told me to stay alive and tell the world what had happened in Auschwitz. Then she leapt across to my other sister, and they were led to the crematorium.

'One minute I was standing in line with my two sisters, feeling protected by their presence. Then suddenly I was alone. I can still feel the cold dirt floor on which I lay crying, feeling helpless and lonely. There were many others like me crying for their lost loved ones. One girl held out her hand to me and we hugged each other. For a moment I felt comforted by someone else sharing the same tragedy.

'We became good friends, and were both sent to an ammunition factory to work. We looked out for one another. We were like sisters, and managed to stay together, even up to and after liberation in 1945.'

In war and genocide acts of great courage and generosity are recorded - and there must be many more that remain untold. But Rose's sisters should never have needed to die like this. This was not a natural catastrophe in which acts of bravery save lives, but a man-made act of mass brutality in which people lose them. Shouldn't this be something to be deeply ashamed of? When we're caught up in quarrels, hatred, violence and war, what happens to our capacity to feel shame?



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