Gerda Weissmann Klein
Born: 1924, Bielsko, Poland
Describes her birthday celebration in the Bielsko ghetto [Interview: 1990]
My mother decided that I'm going to have a party. And uh, I just had a wonderful thing, I just had a, another big birthday, my sixty-fifth. And a friend of mine who now lives in Detroit met my uh--husband and children gave me a party--she came to the party and she was in in Arizona now, and she was at that birthday party. The birthday party was rather grand because my mother had some oatmeal and she had made some wonderful cookies which we all swore were absolutely like uh tasted like uh nuts. And I had a birthday party which was crowned by an incredible thing. I got an orange. I always loved oranges. Only later did I find out that my mother had gone out of the ghetto, sold a diamond and pearl ring to get me an orange. That was the last birthday gift from my parents.
In 1939, Gerda's brother was deported for forced labor. In June 1942, Gerda's family was deported from the Bielsko ghetto. While her parents were transported to Auschwitz, Gerda was sent to the Gross-Rosen camp system, where for the remainder of the war she performed forced labor in textile factories. Gerda was liberated after a death march, wearing the ski boots her father insisted would help her to survive. She married her American liberator.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum - Collections