Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust

By Carol Rittner; John K. Roth | Go to book overview

5
Olga Lengyel

How should I have known? I had spared them from hard work, but I had condemned Arvad and my mother to death in the gas chambers.

OLGA LENGYEL

Formerly a part of Romania, the city of Cluj in northern Transylvania had come under Hungarian control in 1940. Its residents included the family of a well-known Jewish physician named Miklos Lengyel. Assisted by his wife Olga, who was also trained in medicine, he directed a hospital in Cluj. The Lengyels had two sons, Thomas and Arvad. "No one," Olga Lengyel thought before war broke out, "could be happier than we were."

Even as the war years accumulated, the Lengyels "looked upon Germany as a nation which had given much culture to the world" and found it hard to believe the frightening stories of concentration camp atrocities that could be heard in Cluj. All too soon, however, seeing became believing. For according to statistics cited in Israel Gutman's Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, more than 1.4 million Jews lived in Romania and Hungary in 1941. By the end of the Holocaust, half a million Hungarian Jews and more than 270,000 Romanian Jews were dead.

In May 1944 the Lengyel family was deported to Auschwitz. Their journey in the stifling cattle cars took seven days. Upon arrival, the usual routine followed. Nearly five thousand men, women, and children from this Cluj transport "formed fives" in columns that stretched on and on. Men were separated from women and children. Miklos Lengyel and Olga Lengyel's father were in one column, Olga's mother and two sons stayed with her in the other. Then the "selection" started.

Isabella Leitner lost her mother at Auschwitz. So did Olga Lengyel, and her

-69-

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Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • ALSO BY CAROL RITTNER AND JOHN K. ROTH ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps and Photographs ix
  • Preface xi
  • Prologue Women and the Holocaust 1
  • General Suggestions for Further Reading 20
  • Chronology 22
  • Part One Voices of Experience 35
  • Notes 39
  • 1: Ida Fink 40
  • 2: Etty Hillesum 46
  • Notes 57
  • 3: Charlotte Delbo 58
  • 4: Isabella Leitner 65
  • 5: Olga Lengyel 69
  • 6: Livia E. Bitton Jackson 73
  • 7: Pelagia Lewinska 84
  • 8: Charlotte Delbo 99
  • 9: Gisella Perl 104
  • 10: Olga Lengyel 119
  • 11: Anna Heilman and Rose Meth 130
  • Notes 134
  • Notes 141
  • 12: Sara Nomberg-Przytyk 143
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 149
  • Part Two Voices of Interpretation 155
  • Notes 159
  • 13: Gisela Bock 161
  • Notes 179
  • 14: Marion A. Kaplan 187
  • Notes 207
  • 15: Sybil Milton 213
  • Notes 237
  • 16: Vera Laska 250
  • Notes 267
  • 17: Gitta Sereny 270
  • Preface 271
  • 18: Claudia Koonz 287
  • Notes 304
  • 19: Magda Trocmeé 309
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 317
  • Part Three Voices of Reflection 319
  • Notes 323
  • 20: Irena Klepfisz 324
  • 21: Charlotte Delbo 328
  • 22: Ida Fink 332
  • 23: Deborah E. Lipstadt 349
  • 24: Mary Jo Leddy 355
  • 25: Rachel Altman 363
  • Notes 372
  • 26: Joan Ringelheim 373
  • Notes 400
  • Appendices 406
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 419
  • Epilogue - Different Voices 421
  • Notes 426
  • Glossary 427
  • Index 431
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