b. Lodz, Poland, 1926
Before we landed in Auschwitz, my family lived in Lodz, Poland. All Jewish people in Lodz were forced to move to the assigned area of the ghetto. Our home was located in the ghetto area, so for a while we had a semblance of regular family life. But we didn't know what was going on outside the ghetto—we were not allowed to possess radios or read newspapers. Although in 1944 the tide of war had finally turned in favor of the Allied forces, I personally thought that by this time the Germans had conquered the whole world.
All we knew was that in the early fall of that year, the ghetto was being liquidated. My family now consisted of my father, brother, and myself. My eldest brother had died in the ghetto in 1943. My mother had died in 1938 of a stroke after the horrible news of Kristallnacht when all the synagogues were set on fire in Germany.
Since the ghetto was now ninety percent empty, my brother and I decided to look for food and coal in the abandoned buildings. As we were looking for something to eat, we got the shock of our lives. On a plate in an empty apartment we found several human ears.
We left the apartment in a hurry, disgusted and frightened beyond belief. As we were heading for our home in the ghetto, we were surprised by an SS officer. At first he threatened to put us on the wagon, but he relented as I was pleading with him that we were only looking for coal. We were happy that he let us go, but the officer knew that in a few days we would be herded onto cattle cars on the way to Auschwitz.
My father, brother and I were in the last transport, because my brother was working for the fire department in the ghetto.
My arrival in Birkenau-Auschwitz in 1944 was a shocking eye-opener. I said to my brother, “We are going to die here.” I had no time even to say anything to my father as the selection officer, “Gottesfinger, ” sent my father to the left. For all I know it may have been the notorious Dr. Mengele. When I asked the “Canadian” (Commando units which searched the new arrival transports) where my father was, he pointed to the billowing smoke from the crematoria and said, “That's where your father went.”
My brother died in Ebensee, a concentration camp in Austria, about two weeks before the liberation by the U.S. Armed Forces. Had the liberation been one or two weeks later, I would not have survived.