In normal circumstances, time goes fast, but in the ghetto, it dragged exceedingly long. Every day passed very slowly, as if to spite us.
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Behind Every Name a Story consists of essays describing survivors’ experiences during the Holocaust, written by survivors or their families. The essays, accompanying photographs, and other materials, including submissions that we are unable to feature on our website, will become a permanent part of the Museum’s records.
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My mother and aunt worked for the Russians until my mother was smuggled out of Poland to the American Zone in Germany, where she lived in a displaced persons camp, Feldafing, and married my father on October 16, 1946. They lived in the DP camp until they could immigrate to the United States in November, 1947.
In the car I tried to be excited about finally ending this ordeal, but I felt I was dying from agony and fear. I was trying to find a way out. If we went to Lehonia, it would be the end of us. Nobody knew us there. After a while, I asked, “Where are we going?”
Finding a way to remain in the United States as an illegal alien proved to be one heck of a sweet bargain.
While in Westerbork, Selma Simon wrote to her daughters, Ruth and Hilda in England. The last letter was written four or five days before they were deported to Poland in which, sadly, Selma said, “We hope to see you soon.”
When Marcel got the news of her deportation, he knew that he would never see his mother again—the person he adored beyond anyone else. It was with a broken body and a broken heart that he arrived in Paris.
Sima could easily pass as a non-Jewish Pole because she had a light complexion and was blonde, but to be able to live as a Pole, she needed a Kennkarte (identification card), and to get a Kennkarte she needed a Polish birth certificate.
I saw girls weeping—my friends, girls I had grown up with. Their bundles were placed in the last car and the people were herded onto the train. We lived not far from Dachau.
After three weeks in the ghetto of Czernowitz, we were sent to the camps in Transnistria for three terrible years of poverty, hunger, typhus, and fear for the future. We had hope in our hearts and only that kept us alive.
In the memories of those who lived through the occupation, the recollection of the existence and survival in the ghetto is still frightening. I will only say that out of our family, my mother and I were the only ones to survive.