90 years old as a working psychologist. Born in Czechoslovakia in a town of 20,000. 8,000 were Jews. She was born in a poor town. The town was Chust. Family was there for many generations. Many people didn’t even have a citizenship passport, including her dad. All the businesses and stores were owned by Jewish people. Father sold mineral waters at his business. 1939 the town of Chust was taken over. A week after Hitler took Poland, he started creating death camps, ghettos, and destroying temples. When she would walk in the streets as a child with her dad, people would call out, “Stinky Jew”, this was normal. One day at school someone passed into her backpack a note that said, “death to the Jews”. She didn’t think about this being an issue. One day she showed up at school when she was 12, the teacher came to her and said no more school for the Jews. She went when she was 40 to Brookland college. She also passed the GED/ high school equivalency test. The year prior she learned English language. Worked her way up to a doctorate.
One day a non-Jew came in to her dad’s shop and said he wanted to stay at the shop and learn how to run a shop. He was told he had to do this. After a few weeks, after learning enough, he took over the shop. Gradually all the Jewish stores were closed. The father wasn’t allowed to sell the mineral water. Eventually the father said he had no more money, when she was 13. To survive, they had a family friend who owned a hotel and they stayed and worked their.
Side story - Every Jewish 18 year old or older had to work in forced labor for the Hungarian army. They had hard work. Dig ditches in cold, frozen Russia. People lost limbs due to the frozen conditions. One boy who was 17 didn’t want to go. So a doctor said he could make an impairment on him in order to allow him not to go to Siberia. He’s cut off some fingers or break his ear drums and make him deaf. He was not sent to the army, but he was sent to Auschwitz later on.
The dad was caught selling bottles of water and caught. He was beaten for 3 days.
1943 Hitler declared Europe free of Jews. (only small groups and pockets of people hiding).
March 1944 - The Germans encouraged the Hungarians to open the gates so the Germans could come in. She knew it was her death sentence as a Hungarian Jew. The Jewish leaders were the liason. They were always updating the Jews of their current status. Her dad shaved his beard for the first time in his 49 year life. The Germans needed 200 strong men, and killed them all. They didn’t need them for anything besides striking fear in the people. Their community was turned into a ghetto. In each 2 bedroom house, they put in 4 - 5 families. One toilet, stove, etc. She was there for 5 weeks. They were boarded onto a wagon. There were two pales, one with water, one to use the bathroom. They bring what is absolutely necessary, no photos, but pots and pans. They assume it’ll be another place to live. 95 people were in half the wagon. Men debate if it is okay to pray in the wagon, because it’s unbecoming of themselves to pray where there is an open toilet. They end up praying. Through the barbed wire window, someone sees a sign, “Auschwitz Burchenaw”. No one knows what it means. There are no fences, only barbed wire fences. The doors open. There are two people in striped uniforms telling them to jump from the train. After getting out they couldn’t get their bags, they were told they’d get it later. They don’t know what’s happening in the front of the train. There are high ranking SS officers who are “doctors” who decide who will die immediately or who will die later. 90% of all transports were headed directly to the death camps. The men including her father were taken away to a coal mine. She was taken to a shower room to undress. Then they tell them to form two lines, they get a dress from a mountain of dresses. Someone came and clipped their hair off. Everyone is laughing because they looked so strange. No one in her group had their menstrual period their entire time, no one knows why. They put her into a camp where 27 big barracks, each with 1200 people. They didn’t do anything until 4pm and they’d take out people each day to be killed. For 5 months, they’d look at the faces of all the girls. This actually happened 2x a day. She is fearful for 5 months with her mother. She gets barely any soup that essentially is from grass and salt. You had to eat the soup with your hand. Mother’s would give up their food to give to their kids. She thought she’d try and get out on a transport. She prayed everyday, “Make this your day God to give us mercy”. 3 SS point out 8 women one day, including her mother and aunt. She worked at a labor camp in incredibly cruel situations. In snow and ice, just in a dress, only eating bread in the morning and night. No toilet paper for a year, some people went three years without it. One day they were hanging out on a day off, an SS asks why is it so cold and asks why didn’t you build a fire. They say they weren’t allowed to. The SS says they can, and it was like paradise. The next day they are told they won’t have food, but will still have to work. The last time they ate was in the previous morning. The reason was because they made a fire, even though the guard said they could. Work days were 12 hours long at least with no food.
She gets moved around to another camp as the Germans move people because the Russians are coming in. One day she hears whistling, which means line up. The loud speaker says no need to line up, just stand up. The SS says, “It’s May 8th, the war is over, and you are free, you can go wherever you want. We are there to only stay and watch over you. Please treat us right” (Again, this is the guard saying this).
She went back to her house. Nobody smiled. She had no one to take care of her, didn’t know where her sister was, her mother, and her father was. For 2 weeks her sister and herself, walked with thousands of other prisoners, full of anxiety, no shoes. People are constantly asking if they knew their mothers or their fathers. Stalin says that her home city is part of Ukraine, which was under Soviet control. He meets a man on a train after walking for 2 weeks. Someone asks who she is. She tells him. She says your mother is at home. She’s reunited at her home. Her once beautiful home has a hole in the roof possibly from a bomb. Every plank of wood is lifted up as the SS was probably looking for treasures. There’s no furniture. The only thing left was her father’s religious books, opened, with feces on them. Her other sister was alive too. Her father was killed at a camp.
She was later asked to share her story in Germany. She could have asked for money to appear. She didn’t, she asked one thing, “how come they didn’t see the human in me? I have two eyes, two ears, I am a human being”. She didn’t get an answer.