b. Uzhorod, Czechoslovakia (became Ungvár, Hungary), 1920
My mother often talked about plans for after liberation. She talked about her sister Helen who lived in the United States. My mother planned to go there and open a restaurant.
We were sitting and talking one night at Stutthof Concentration Camp—my mother, sisters, and I. The temperature was near freezing. We were starving and thirsty. Icicles had formed on the inside of the roof. They were low enough for us to reach, so we broke them off and sucked on them to moisten our mouths.
We were walking skeletons—I weighed about sixty-five pounds. So I asked my mother, “Do you think that we can survive in this physical condition?”
She replied, “Children, I remember World War I. The war went on for years and then one day it was over.”
As we talked, we heard airplanes and loud noises in the distance. It was 1945 and the Russians were approaching.
Soon after this night, the Germans rounded us up for the last death march, telling us to form rows of five. Those too tired to walk were told to stay behind and they would be taken by wagon. My mother's feet were very swollen, so she chose to stay. My sister, a doctor, stayed with her. That was the last time we saw them.
Later we found out that those left behind that night went to a Russian hospital. There was a typhus epidemic and with no medication available, my mother and sister died there.
The Germans marched us for several hours until it was too dark to see. They pushed us into a field where we tripped over people. In the morning we saw that the field contained thousands of people dead and dying of typhus.
The Russian Army had the area surrounded, so the Germans were not able to take us further. So that was the end of the war—April 17, 1945.
Left on our own, sick as we were, thirteen of us found an abandoned house where we stayed for a few days without food before some Russians found us. I thought my sister Roshi was dead, but when I put a few drops of vodka that the officer gave me on her lips, she coughed.
A Russian woman wanted to give us some soup, but a Jewish officer said it was too rich in fat and it would make us sicker. They gave us canned milk and we found canned sardines, but we had no opener.