Liberation and the Immediate Postwar Period: April to September 1945
We looked at all the beautiful American tanks lined up. It was unbelievable. God bless the American soldiers—they had soda and chocolate. They said don't eat too fast—just a little at a time. They told us to go into a house nearby because the war wasn't over yet. In Esther's voice: So I went into the house, and fell asleep under the oven. I didn't wake up until Monday morning. There were pails of milk and fresh white bread. The soldiers made us cream of wheat—they made sure that we ate slowly. It was like a dream. I am still looking for those guys from Texas—they were tall, blond, and so good-looking! We had a good time. We went to live in a repurposed school—there were ten girls together in a room.
Meanwhile, they took our sister Adel (Udika) out of the hospital, with the other sick people. She wrote to us from a town named Penig. When we went to see her, she was near the end. She was very weak. We brought her some food but she couldn't eat it. At that time I had a terrible pain in my stomach. It was appendicitis, so they removed my appendix. While I was in the hospital, I learned that Udika had died. An American rabbi buried her in an Evangelist [Lutheran] cemetery in Germany.
In August 1945, the Russians took over the camp in Germany, so we had to leave. We went home to Hungary, to look for our parents. First we went to see our oldest sister Borishka, who was living in Debrecen. After the war, she had returned to Mad, where she found that our family's house had been trashed.
After visiting Borishka in Debrecen, we decided to return to our family home in Mad. We were driven by two wagon-drivers, who left us on the wagon. Some Russians took the wagon, and threw us down into a ditch—the wagon, the horse, the wine barrels. Both of our sister's arms were broken. In Esther's voice: I had a terrible concussion. We went back to Debrecen. The doctor said that I had to lie quietly. In December 1945 we went to Budapest, and from there we illegally returned to Germany.
Barry and Bina Move from Hungary to Israel: 1958
Our brother Berel (Barry) was a big dreamer. He left Hungary to live in Italy and Switzerland. He tried to go to Palestine, but he was caught as an illegal.
In 1945, when the Russians entered Hungary, Barry returned from a labor camp. He was wearing a German uniform, because that's all he had. The Russians thought he was a German so they sent him to Siberia. He was there until 1948, when everybody was liberated. In 1956, at the time of the Hungarian revolution, he and his family went to Israel. So did our sister Berta (Bina), who also had been living in Hungary.
DP Camp, Leipheim: 1946 to 1948
We had illegal papers—mine showed that I was from Poland. I was placed in Leipheim, a displaced persons camp, and given housing in a “kibbutz.” There were a lot of young people there. When I first arrived, I didn't know how to speak Yiddish. I met a Lithuanian man, who asked me who I was staying with. I responded that I had two “shveegers”—I meant brother-in-law but I said mother-in-law. So he thought I was married and didn't ask me on a date!
Goldie and Anna both got married to men they met in Leipheim. In Esther's voice: I met Sammy in Leipheim, but I didn't want to get married right away—I wanted to live first. I traveled around Germany with my friend Marta Sternbach. In Auschwitz, Marta had been separated from her sister, who said to her “follow the Grossman girls.”
In Esther's voice: I went to Toronto. JIAS (Canada's Jewish Immigrant Aid Society) placed me with a family as a housekeeper. In 1951, Sammy came to visit his cousin in Toronto, and he found out that I was there. We went to a movie, and I came home and told my landlady that I was getting married. When I saw Sammy again I knew that he was “the one.”
USA, a New Life: Starting in 1952
Some quotes from Esther:
I always dream about carrying my grandmother. I dream about jumping through fences. At the Holocaust Museum in Washington, I cried when looking at the liberation exhibit, when the Americans came in… seeing Eisenhower standing at Ohrdruf…my sisters saved me… my mother saved me when I was dying—she told me I had to live.
I am blessed with three wonderful children, six beautiful grandchildren, and one adorable great-granddaughter.
The Grossman Family Legacy
The six Grossman siblings who survived the Holocaust started families soon after liberation. There are now almost 300 descendants living in the United States and Israel.
To request access to view the Grossman family tree, contact the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shoah foundation video interview of Esther Cizek
Transcript of interview, Esther Cizek, by David Fox
Transcript of interview, Irene (Goldie) Greenberger, by Naomi Greenberger Lerman
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