b. The Hague, Netherlands, 1919
When the Germans brought me to Auschwitz in the fall of 1943, I came with nine other women. I can't remember all of the names or even all the faces, but I remember that there were nine and I was the tenth woman in our group. We were all young married women in our late teens or early twenties. We knew each other from our Hachsharah (a group of young people learning to work the land in order to leave Holland and emigrate to Palestine). We planned to stay together if we could because we would have more strength together than each alone.
The SS trooper separated the young married women and made us stand at one area together. Then he marched us to Block Ten, which was in the middle of the men's barracks. It was a long gray building made out of stone. Inside there was a big stove built of tiles that served as the only source of heat for one hundred and
fifty people. This was to be our home and our hell for the next two years.
We ten women managed to stand in a small group, so that we ended up with our bunks together. The wooden bunks were stacked three tiers high. The top beds were the choice picks because there was air up there; we could breathe. So we rotated bunks—we ten women gave what we could to help each other.
The Polish girls who were there already told us what was going to happen to us. We were to become, like them, a part of Dr. Mengele's experiments. He had bought us from the German government and he could do what he wanted to us. We were his property. We were to be his gynecological guinea pigs, and if we became sick or disabled, then came the gas.
We knew then that we had to stay strong—stay clean—stay together. We made each one wash every day. Only cleanliness could ward off typhus and cholera. The strong washed the weak. I was one of the strongest. With ice cold water and soap that felt like clay, I washed the women's backs and had them wash the front of their bodies when they could. Some of the girls had already given up and did not want to be washed. One girl in particular, Marta, already knew that her husband, a rabbi's son, had been gassed. We had to force her over to the buckets of water to wash. We made her stay alive.
We lived with a numbing routine. After roll call every morning came the watery tea for breakfast. Then most of the women went to the fields to work; but some were selected to go to the operating rooms that were located right in the barracks.