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tv   Oral Histories  CSPAN  May 25, 2015 12:05pm-2:02pm EDT

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helena wooizman. we lived in a large old home outside of town. it was a huge garden, many fruit trees and flowers and wonderful thing for children to roem in. i had ten cats, all black and knew all their names and now my children and grandchildren can now recite the name of my cats. my brother had two dogs. i used to love swimming in summer skiing in winter. and by and large i had a marvelous childhood. >> what about school? >> i went to public school first and then until the war broke out took catholic school called notre dame a private girl's school. however, it was about i would say a quarter of the girls in school -- in my class were jewish. that was the natural thing to
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do. i really liked school very much but i pretended i didn't. and of course, when the car came, that was the end of my formal education. >> tell us what happened. >> well i guess the danger signals were flying high in the summer of 1939 by and large i must say it was ignored by my family. i was aware with my mother in a place called krin its sha. i remember my very first incident, which is by fear. my mother and i went to a concert and i remember setting quite vividly. there were flowers around and i'm not very musical but something caught on that date and i remember the crowd of
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people sitting there and flowers and it was very warm. that day one of those golden days of summer as i see it now. and suddenly, a young man came running up to the podium and pushed the conductor aside and said how can you all sit here listening to music when danger is coming from there and pointed to the -- separated us from czech slovakia. why don't you go home and take up arms. i remember moving closer shouldn't we go home? pretty soon police came and arrested a man, annage tater for disturbing the peace. i remember that sudden fear that was my first memory of something impending but we stayed another week, i don't remember exactly
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how long. but however on the way home we saw stations an awful lot of baggage which was labeled war saw. when we came home, my father had his arm in a sling and my mother naturally was terribly concerned and he had suffered a slight heart attack. and unfortunately things were moving very fast they must have been the third week in august that we received a telegram from my uncle in turkey, my mother -- my mother only had one brother and he lived in turkey. and he sent us a telegram saying that we should get out if we had resources the embassy in warsaw. my mother said we're not going to tell him about the telegram. he is ill and should not be disturbed. and i guess that -- my family and only hope and pray my mother didn't fully realize that.
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>> tell us just what happened? what did you do once you realized? >> it was friday morning, and i remember it very well. i was 15 you see. and it was friday morning when we heard a lot of planes and people run into the streets. and said to our german friends flying over terribly frightening and a lot of activity, they were building trenches and my mother tried to keep the windows closed and so my father's bedroom, my father was in bed, he was quite ill. and that night there are lots of refugees in the street who know people running away and there
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was shooting and i remember one man was carrying a goat on his back. that was his only possession a small goat. and people with wheel barrows and cars and everything. my brother had a girlfriend and family called and said that they went to the interior of pole land and suggested to take my brother and me along. my father insisted that should be my brother's decision. i was you know considered too young to make a decision. my brother was 19 at the time. my brother said no. and that was a terrible shock because my father to me was sort of the center of my universe. you know, when he decreed something, he would do anything that he would ask my brother, to make a decision, a tremendous decision. it was a terrible shock.
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and very turbulent. and then it ceased in the morning and my father said to me that i should go and he wanted to talk to my mother and brother and i should not be around. he said i should call the family to see what everybody is doing. my my uncles and aunts. i went downstairs and there was no answer. no one answered anywhere. and my mother said -- all of the homes that i remembered and farms and everything, there was no answer whatsoever. and i came up and my father said no one answers? i said no. there was a wonderful saturday everything was cut off.
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we had no electricity no light and it was a beautiful september day. flowers outside and my parents were sort of joking, my father got dressed and came downstairs and we were all sitting together and that was really the last beautiful day. and then in the evening there was shelling and my brother went out to let his dog in. when he came back he had a hole in his trouser and he said, shooting from the rooftops. germans are coming. we went to the basement, with other people you know, and it was morning. and i don't remember too well but what i remember most vividly is that my mother called that we should come she prepared some
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breakfast. and we came upstairs and we sat down. and suddenly there was tremendous roar a roar of motorcycles. and it was the motorcycle with nazis in it, one in the side car and one sitting there. and my brother had just -- he had just taken it out of his pocket and i saw his, his head look down and it was 9:10 in the morning. and i remember everybody just sat stunned. and then we heard people running, more cars and motorcycles were coming. and people were shouting. and we saw from the house across
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the street black swastika and that was the most enormous shock that people were prepared, friends and knew it. the very first hour and to me of course can only say in retrospect one of the things that changed suddenly i remember the coal fell out from the fireplace and it went on the carpet and the carpet was sort of molten. and i remember before how upset my mother was and no one paid any attention. these were tiny little things that suddenly changed everything. and more and more were coming.
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and the voices grew more hoarse, and people shouting hooil hitler. and soldiers -- that's the sort of thing i remember starting to cry, my brother put me on the carpet, keep quiet. and you can do this. and it was in the morning and you know the whole day sort of came along with many feelings. i don't remember over the years. one of the worst things happened in the afternoon. the mother of a child friend of mine, her name is esther bergman, her mother came and she asked where my father was and
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said, she knew he was ill but said wanted my brother because they had rounded up all of the men they could find and then at temple and sort of went out the back door. and i think that was truly the first impact what happened. >> what happened over the next few days? how did things evolve? >> i couldn't tell you day by day, you know. people came our neighbors came, jewish neighbors came one thing, yes, and neighbor who see the home which we lived in and not only was i -- but my mother had been born there. our grandmother had lived with
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us fortunately blessedly for her she died a year before the war broke out, never faced that. the woman came and she asked where our polish flag was? my mother said why we have to make a german flag out of it. and my mother pretended to look for it in all places where she knew she wouldn't find it you know. and then the woman left and she said, she will be back later maybe my father can help look for it. and i think that became very clear, that we better produce it because she really wanted it for our protection. she said all you have to do is you know keep the right flag and cut a round circle from the white and put a swastika. she came to collect it and then wanted to look because -- and he
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apparently could not be found to do it but the woman started to hang her flag up and sort of said to my mother, you know if the flag is not displayed from here, it will be obvious of who you are. and i remember we couldn't look out of the window to see the flag. we had some other people in our home as well who were not jewish and some were sympathizers and they wanted that. this was the part that was german speaking before the war was austria. and later it was one of the first things that became the most -- they called it -- and where unfortunately, not too far from auschwitz and that became
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the perfect -- which was allegedly self-ruled because it wasn't you know but it immediately became under the same rules as german. the people there shouting, hitler, thank you for liberation, because they thought the empire was coming back with emperor elizabeth and part of under for 20 years. so perhaps misguided on behalf of the people maybe not so much pro nazi but of course all of that changed. >> what happened to your family and what changed?
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>> that i can unfortunately tell you. very soon an order came that all young men between 16 and 50. my father at this point was about 50, since he was ill he did not have to register. my brother was 19 and of course every day england france declared war. we were sunday morning, sunday afternoon, and france declared war in germany. and then moecht of the family had fled however my father's sister who had been separated from her husband and daughter in one of the things that were bombed came back with her son david and found the apartment
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and other people came to stay with us. david was about my brother's age. and to david and also my brother went to register to whatever they had to do, they said they would be in some sort of labor battalion to build up what was was -- the date was the 19th of october. and which my brother left. anyway -- one thing my mother refused to make his bed. for months she wanted to keep the imprint of his head in pillow.
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things got worse from day to day, you know. we didn't hear from my brother for a long, long time. and when we finally did which i believe was months later he was blessedly in the russian occupied zone. and what apparently happened was that there were -- poland, i don't know exactly what location, but pursued by bullets whoever could swim could swim across and he was a very good swimmer. he was -- occupied by the russians and he worked there.
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and my brother was trained in chemistry. and he worked at some sort of factory making jam or whatever. and that was one of the great marvelous moments in the bleakness of our existence to learn that arthur was alive. i really -- i have to rec my memory and looking at some of the things which i have written after the war which i was clear knowledge as far as dates are concerned. but i know that it probably was a few months later that we went to move him in the basement of the home, it was very wet there and no electricity there. and my father's condition really deteriorated quite a bit. he suddenly looked very old.
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my mother who up to that point you see because my grandmother -- lived with my grandmother, was pam per and given to -- upset about little things like table cloths didn't iron properly or lace was wrong something. showed incredible strength and fortitude. as a matter of fact she was the one who did not cry when my brother left. and my father wept the first time i saw my father crying. and i think to me a very devastating to see my father helpless. never saw him helpless before. and so we lived in the basement. learned new skills.
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so my mother -- you know i learned to clean the chimney and we had illumination like that because we had no light. and pretty soon, of course, we exhausted our funds because we had no money everything was frozen. my father didn't earn anything. and all of the things were very hard to come by but where we lived, there were vegetables and things were obtainable and our neighbors was wonderful to us and lived diagonally across the street and she would go and get vegetables and bring things to us. but my mother was always a wonderful needlework, could do wonderful things with her hands.
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we helped us through that we would be knitting and i learned -- i learned to knit before the war but wasn't particularly interested in it. more ever a tom boy running around cats and climbing trees and i settled down. and we would start knitting sweaters for people. my mother really have a wonderful reputation, could em broider things and did marvelous things. and we would be able to get candles, because we couldn't use the lamp too often because of no petroleum is available only limited things. and there was very little to eat. and so my mother and i would knit for as long as daylight would allow and my father would sit and read to us and really this is how my father was wonderful. i went to polish schools, my
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first language was german spoke german at home. whenever i would come home from school, i switch to german. but i couldn't read or write german. you know, i spoke it naturally my first language. my father and my mother's books and started teaching me to read and write german. and then my father would read to us and you know we would let the candle go down and take the wax and my mother made little wicks and put the candle on again and we would knit. and we got -- i remember it very clearly, for knitting a sweater first i would make the sleeves and things and my mother would do the intricate work. it was through the months if you could buy food, it was fine, but we had to start buying food on the black market. i would say a loaf of bread
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would cost 30 and knitting a sweater would be able to buy a bred and this is how things went. then started with -- to be sent away and every so often a little card would come announcing as a matter of fact the first one came when we had not heard from arthur and i remember at that point my mother sort of must have suffered a nervous breakdown, at least a moment tri lapse because i remember she was totally out of things. she was calling for arthur, she was? bed. my father was up with her. my father told me to go and to pack -- we were supposed to leave with 20 pounds of our belongings. and my father brought three suitcases and told me to pack some things. and word got around to in the
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community that we were selling things, all of the jews were doing that. and people started to come and my father said, stay with my father. and then word got around that if i don't remember the exact amount but say, a kilo of gold, if that would be given, then that would stay. you know, everybody is scurrying to give whatever jewelry people had to bring it. of course, that was another thing the germans did in order to get the valuables, which people were holding. and apparently they got what whatever was needed for that purpose because then a note came
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to say we could stay. and that would happen after six or seven months. i don't know exactly that. but shortly there after we got you know, my mother's became her strong self and from that time on, i would say that until the very end my mother was absolutely -- looking back now my mother was a very young woman at the time. she was 41 when the war broke out. of course to me she was an old woman, to a 15-year-old girl you know. my father was ten years older than my mother.
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this is how we survived the first three years, 1939 to the spring of 1942. the very, very early spring it could have been march, perhaps, when the order came that we had to move to the jewish ghetto with a shabby remote part of town quite far from where we had lived because it was actually -- where twin cities. and that we lived in beal its and that was way out near the old cemetery where we had to move. and as i told you my garden held most of my wonderful childhood memories and fairly
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soon i would say probably early 1940 there was a sign that said no jews with dogs were permitted. so we naturally did not go. but on the morning in which we were forced to leave our home i jumped over the fence and went to the garden. and i ran around there and i remember the first violets where we had a garden the first violets were there. which i had picked and i remember sort of climbing the branch of a tree where we used to sit pretending what would it would be like if nothing it happened. you know, i would go in and my parents would be at breakfast and brother would be going to school. and so you know, even so i always firmly believe that --
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looking back now, i realize that i must have had a premonition because i remember that i really started to imagine what my yard would look like in all seasons i wouldn't say. i did not see it for a period of time or if it will be finalty, i don't know that. you sort of take memories out like cameos and look at them and hold them. >> and that was it. >> what was it like going into the ghetto? >> strange as it may seem, i guess i was happier at the gheto than at home because i had friends there. at home i was -- well, it isn't
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quite true. my father, you know, there were several girls particularly the one who became tremendously close to me, my friend, there was esther bergman who lived not far away. but my father would teach us at home take books out and teach us and history and all of the things that he knew very knowledgeable. then a very fragmented way but i think in those first three years, almost three years at home particularly with my father i think i quite a bit of knowledge. he taught me -- my father was supposed to be a rabbi my mother was born in bealits what was very -- as a matter of fact my grandmother, my maternal grandmother, still celebrated
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the birthday which is on the 8th of august which i still remember because i think they talked about the good old days and everybody had things about that. and my father's family came from a place called chortkof he was very well known, as a matter of fact now i think by the name of freedman. and my father's family was related to them and i had wonderful childhood memories as a child going to chortkof, should i continue with what i talked about -- >> let's break it and you're going into the ghetto and started talking about -- >> all right. i don't remember why i wanted to tell this particular story, in any event my friends there were a number of girls and we lived
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in proximity in the ghetto, one large building and number of my friends lived there. so it really was a bit nicer for me. it was a very sharp curfew never see my friends in the evening or after 5:00 or what have you, it was nice to see my friends, you know. there were a bunch of babies there that i could play with two babies. for me in a way it was a bit easier. it wasn't very long, i realized how little time there was because very soon when order came that we had to go and work in a shop factory sewing garments. and so my mother and i had to go
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and we went to a train station not too far away. and we worked sewing garments there. and then my father had to go to fortify the river that was hard because my father could not really bend his arm very well. but he said -- he started looking better and you see he was very pale being home for so long, actually the fresh air was deceiving but it seemed like he looked better. there was a very short time really come to think of it it was probably not more than two months. and then i remember my -- may, my 18th birthday. i was 15 when the war broke out and that was three years. my 18th birthday my mother
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decided -- and just did a wonderful thing, my 65th and friend of mine now lives in detroit, gave me a party. she came to the party and she was in arizona now. and she was. my mother had some oatmeal and she had made wonderful cookies which we swore were actually like this -- like nuts. and i had a birthday party which was crowned by incredible thing. i got an orange, i always loved oranges. later did i find out that my mother had gone out of the ghetto, sold the diamond and pearl ring to get me an orange.
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that was the last gift from my parents. a couple of my friends were there, one lives in new york and she reminded me of something not too terribly long ago because the orders came and the 20 dates of june all the men had to leave. a sunday. my father. we went to the station. and my father stood at the
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platform and it was a yellow stamp -- there is however one thing i would like for my children -- my parents the last night before my father left because we all lived in one large room at that point, i heard my parents talking. i don't know if it was for them or my benefit. they did not mention at all departing in the morning but they spoke about the years together, about the happiness they have shared, about my brothers and mine about the hopes they had for us. and i think in that, they have instilled something in me which has been my legacy always. the value of the laugh of the
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commitment, of the pride and aware of the family. and you know in subsequent times it -- it was a very comforting thing and i shall always be grateful for that. i mentioned seeing my father for the last time and after that my friend geta, who lives in new york now and i went -- we knew the men went on sunday and it took place on monday morning. we decided that we should -- we knew what was going to happen to all of the books and most of the
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books which jewish families treasure, and after my father was taken away, we went and collected all of the books. i was afraid the germans were going to use it for unspeakable purposes. and we went to the jewish cemetery, which was near the ghetto and we buried them there. i'm sorry for not -- my mother's grief completely i was very terribly close to my father. and i didn't comfort my mother and i think i sort of needed to be alone to lick my own wounds
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so to speak. i'm sure that many people had given you the descriptions of the leaving, i guess ours is not too much different. except that my mother decided to fast on that day, it was a monday. my mother fasted every monday since my brother had left. and she had a bit of precious cocoa she had hoarded throughout the entire war for a special celebration. and she made cocoa for me that morning. i must say it did not taste very sweet. we were marched through the town under the whips of the ss.
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reflection time, happened to me many times during the war, later on, that in rapid succession to see which of the -- like they were putting a new name of the movie on the marquis. marching by a shop which sold fabrics and remembering the type of fabric that my mother bought for summer dress but it wasn't color fast. and yet it's very funny i remember things and remember them now, you know.
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seeing some neighbor peer from behind the curtain. we went from the ghetto through the town through the other side of the town to which was called -- where we were. i marched with my mother and saw a men with a cane and asked me how old i was i said 18. he told me to go to the left. we were loaded in trucks sometime later and i'll do this as best i can, okay? and i heard my mother's voice. and she was calling be strong.
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and i heard that i was in the truck. i jumped off and i said i want to go to my mother. and a little man in a rain coat came by his name with marin eni remember how he had this enormous strength. he was quite short and it was raining, rain coat and hat and took me and threw me back on the truck. he said you are too young to die. so it was the men who probably sent my mother to her death decided i should not run back to her. we went to a place called sos no
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vich. it was a transit camp. it was the 29th of june, 1942, a monday. a long story, i'll just confine it to my own. i had the opportunity of leaving there because of a boy who liked me and parents tried to get me out. >> tell us about that. >> anyway, i made a decision that i did not want to go out to
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go back. there were two camps in belitz and story of young men there but he was a very fine artist. and his family suggested he got back with his family you could get out if you had a place of work, had some working permit. and that you could get out and go to -- he had two sisters and two sewing machines. and they were willing to put one in a shop to secure a place for me, which was an incredible sacrifice. and however, i knew that if i did that, i would probably have to marry him. i made a decision not to go.
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maybe this is a good story to tell because i'm an own now of sort, but i wanted to stay with my friends. even when i was going to camp. by incredible coincidence, the men who came and told me that i was able to go out, his name was jacob, now lives in buffalo, new york. because i lived there many years. that decision proved to be a decision which saved my life because unfortunately the family, all of them, were deported and killed about two months later. and you see, my hometown was
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renowned for textiles but it was throughout europe and they registered your name, your age, and the place you hailed from, and industrialists from all over germany would come to buy slaves and a man by the name of keller. i think it's good to use the names. his name was director keller. they had several spinning, weaving, and textile oriented and associated firms, and they needed people to work in the factories. when he came and he saw that "x" number of girls from belitz were there, for some reason he thought we might have more dexterity in weaving or whatever, and anyway they were
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always -- because you see that was still very early. that was '42. they need the german-speaking people to be trained so he bought all of us for a new weaving camp. and, in fact this is where we went. in all fairness, i must say that camp was probably better than most of certainly what followed because it was new. you see we were only 50 girls there. and the person who became our -- at first sight she looked like a bulldog and i thought she's going to tear us limb from limb, and she was a very kind person. she was probably chosen for her looks, but we all were in
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captivity under her owe her a debt of gratitude and i think by her very decency she pinned a lie to the lips of all who said they had no choice. i wouldn't say she particularly loved us. she saved my life once, which i will be eternally grateful. there was as far as i know, and i do know, that as long as we were there and later in a place where she also was, nobody was sent to auschwitz from our camp from those two camps and she showed that people could help individually and she did. i only met during my entire years under the nazis for six years, i only met two who were
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really kind and i think they should be singled out for that. her name was frau krinkler with an um lat. when we first saw her and she barked and everything, i thought this is the end of it all. i was with my friend who i really would like to mention, and in the camp there we became as close as sisters. ilda was a childhood friend only in the chance that her mother and my mother were friends. she played the piano beautifully. she was exquisitely mannered. my mother told me i needed to be more like her and i hated to play with her. she was the paragon of all virtue. we became quite close already in the get toehetto when we used to go to the cemetery was the only place you could do but in the camps
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you see she had a little sister by the name of kitty and of course kitty was sent to auschwitz. everybody had a buddy. she showed great promise as a pianist. she was sent to vienna two years before the war to study at the conservatory there and a great future was predicted for her and ilda sort of became my sister. as a matter of fact, we looked. >>ity aquite a bit alike. and there was something else that perhaps would give sort of an inkling what it was like. on the train to the camp i met a wonderful girl a vivid red head. one of those beautiful people. tall. a wonderful girl. her name was susie. she was born in vienna but her
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mother had died when she was quite young and she was sent to check low slovaky to live with her parents. we were all german speaking and that's why we went to that camp. i was standing next to her on the train and the train sort of -- there was a certain freedom there. they were not confined. we were out and going some place, and susie said we'll never, ever get out from where we are going and i said, yes, we will, and i said i'm sure the war will be over in less than a year, and susie said, no, we're not going to make it. and i said i bet you, and she said okay. she said let's bet for a quart of strawberries and a quart of whip cream and we shook hands on
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that that. and susie died on liberation morning. i found her dead. i don't know if she knew or if she didn't. she won that bet. anyway, we came to the camp. the camp -- you know, it's a terrible thing to say but i think because we are recording it, some things should be said. actually for me it was easier there, easier in terms that i didn't see my parents suffer. you know, i could sort of put things over there. i was convinced that my parents will survive that they are some place, that they're probably working. i pushed it so the side and i was in a way liberated in fact that i wasn't worried that each of my action might spell danger
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to my parents and, you know i knew if somebody is going to beat me, they're not going to see it. all the indignities to suffer and vice versa, you know. and, of course when you're 18 years old you have a resiliency which you don't have later. anyway, the camp was rough in terms until we mastered what was expected of us. somebody by the name ofmeister zimmer he was dreadful. and i used to amuse myself when he told us all to sing, you know, that we're going to be taught decency and all these things. the very think that we knew so well which obviously were designed to break our resistance resistance, you know, and if we behave ourselves and do these things we can lift up our lives. i used to sort of speculate what
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he would look like when he was dead and things like that you know. you know fortunately, you know i always wrote when i was a little girl and things like that, and i could lift myself from some of the things and do other things in my mind to remove that, and i think i did it in the very first weeks when we were there but, you know you used to stand with a watch. it was a stop watch. and you had to do very intricate -- what do you call it? i left the german now. to tie something a knot. a weaver's knot to be exact, and you had to do "x" number a win and, of course you can imagine when you have somebody stand with a stop watch above you to do that, your life -- but for some reason most of us were able to do it, and those who were not were put in the spinner and
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other things so nobody was sent to auschwitz from the original 50 there. and it was by comparison of what came later relatively easy in as much -- we were not that hungry. we got some food because mrs. keckler was decent. we worked in the factory long hours and i think that was really the very best thing. you were so exhausted at the end of the day and you had to son sen concentrate so much that your mind couldn't absorb all that. we were able to write letters, and again in that mr. keckler was quite generous because i don't remember exactly, you know, what the ratio was how often you were permitted to but, of course, who could you write to? but i was fortunate that i had my father's address where my
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father was allegedly working on the fortification of the river, and i wrote to my father. i did not hear. of course i heard from abek. he started sending me letters as well as packages which again through the type of person that mrs. keckler was, those passages passages -- packages did arrive. i wrote to my father and i waited to hear from my father and one day a most incredible thing happened. mrs. keckler was going through the mail and she called my name, and i saw the letter. and i jumped to get it and then i realized it was a letter which i had wrote -- written to my father and on it said without
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forwarding address. i think that we needn't go into that. i only know one thing, that i lost my speech for a day and a night. i could not utter a sound. anyway anyway, we worked there and you see the type of things that i don't know if it really comes across. it's a tremendous support system which existed in the camps. to laugh and to friendship and caring and loyalties that people had for each other that girls had for each other. you know that was sort of the balance against the cruelty
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which we experienced. to me i feel it was probably one of the most important things that existed, and i somehow wish that would filter down. i try to tell my children and my grandchildren because, you know, they are the spiritual heirs of those who did not survive. to know that the legacy of the camps is not the legacy of the horror but of the greatness of our people. the very humanity which existed there in the face of such incredibly inhumanity. i particularly want to talk about my friend ilda for a moment but it actually happened in another camp. i will give you the quick progression from camp to camp. we were in the first camp we were working on looms and pretty soon the raw materials started to disappear. we had to work on paper. there was paper that they were
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spinning and of course in warm weather it became brittle and it would break and in cold weather it would disintegrate because it got soft and if those things tore which once happened to me for that you could be sent to auschwitz, but somehow mrs. keckler intervened that people rn not and i remember it one time which is what i wanted to talk about frau keckler. it was shortly after i received the news about my father that i became very ill. i don't know exactly what i had but i know that all my fingernails started to have puss in -- pus in it. i couldn't touch my hands and i was running a high fever. we had a place where people who were sick for a day or two could stay and i was there, and all of
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a sudden lindner, i think he has quite a name in the ss, he came on a sudden inspection and frau keckler charged into the room. i omitted to say my father made me wear my skiing boots. when i left home i last saw my father on the 28th of june and i left home on the 29th. separated from my mother the following day. before my father left he said to me wear your skiing boots. we were all avid skiers. we had lived in the ski mountains. there was a lot of skiing there, and i said why? and my father said i want you to wear them, and i said papa skiing shoes in june. i would wear a pair of sandals and my father said you have to wear them. you didn't argue with your father in those days. i wore them and i blessed him every single day because i wore them for the entire three years i was in the camp and in the
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lining i had hidden the pictures which are now in my book. at first i was able to keep them in the first camp but later on and on the death march i had concealed them there. so mrs. keckler charged in and she dragged me out of the bunk and she said, lindner is here. it's a matter of life and death. i will take you to the factory. and she stooped down and she started to lace my boots, and she dragged me to the factory. she used to work in the factory before and i worked on four looms and she set the looms in motion and she said to me pull yourself together. and i remember i still felt the beating of the loom and everything was sort of at different ankles because i was running a very high temperature and he came for inspection and he went through. if he would have found me there she could not have saved me. there was no question. that was frau keckler.
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pretty soon it became obvious they needed us in another camp, and our camp was disbanded, and we went to i think three different ones. i really don't remember the third one. i was september tont to a horrible, horrible camp. we were locked up on the fifth or sixth floor, and every morning they would wake us with whips. i worked in the flax detail, which was a dreadful place. they were doing linens there and flax submerged in a swamp. you had to pull it out of the swamp, you know, and then you opened the things and retracted the flax. it was terribly hot. it was in summer and the mosquitoes were all over us when we were working there.
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and then i was singled out to do something else namely to unload coal at night. allegedly i gave a fresh answer to one of the supervisors there, a man, and for that i was banished to work flax during the day and at the coal detail at night. it was an incredible time. then also to load the flax into sort of silos which were -- i mean if i think now that they were ten stories high, they probably were not, they were probably three or four but you had almost no balance on those things. i remember that as nothing but torture. as soon as we went back to camp i was called to go and unload coal and that was the only time -- my father had asked me earlier, i forgot to mention it
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during the first time when my mother was so ill i remember standing at the window and we heard a family had committed suicide together. i remember standing at the window looking out at the garden, my mother being so sick, my father was standing in the sling. we hadn't heard from arthur and, you know, i wished that my parents would suggest that. moi father and i were always very close and i always knew what i was thinking and he came behind me and he said, without looking at me and he said what you are thinking now is cowardly, it's wrong. he said promise that you are never going to do that. i didn't answer him, and he took his hand and he turned my head toward him and he said i want your promise now and i promised him, and i remember that during the working on the coal trucks there were trains going by. i didn't know if they were going to auschwitz or whatever and i
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remember sort of the tracks beckoning in the moonlight and i thought it would be over very quick, one jump and one pain and that is going to be it because it was so dreadful there. and at one moment when i think i really came fairly close, i felt a very strange pain in my neck. okay. anyway, obviously i didn't do it. so when things were really very, very hard, we worked in the swamp one day and i think it was really one of my lowest hours when we had a person who was the opposite of mrs. keckler. sort of an overblown thing and wearing rings on every finger and her great joy was to have a little wagon, like a child's wagon, and she had us pull her around in that wagon and she was
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having a whip about it. you can imagine the caliber and the intelligence of that person. and all of a sudden she came with somebody else with a man and they said -- they were calling numbers. we all had numbers of course. and they were calling numbers. i was working next to ilda, and i heard them call her number and i sort of looked up. i must have been dazed and she pointed and said you idiots don't you know your own numbers and ilda pointed to me and said that is her number. i didn't understand what she was doing. she obviously wanted to get me out from whatever it was. so she naturally slapped me and said don't you even know your own number, you idiot.
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so then they called my real number. i didn't know what was happening. i'm really not quite sure on that but what happened was as we came to the camp there was director keller. an interesting thing to tell you about him. and ilda fell to his feet and she said my sister, you don't have her number, something like that, and he looked at me and he said i know you, you worked at four looms, you're coming along. they needed more people for working the looms in another camp camp, and this is how i got out of this camp and ilda was on it too and we got loaded on a truck and we went to the camp which was the sister camp. and when we got there who would be there but frau keckler was in
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charge of that camp so that was like a homecoming. so this is how -- i had one incident with herr keller. he called me into his office once and i just remember this incredible thing. there was a huge, huge room with a single carpet and a desk on it, and he sat alone at the desk and what struck me is that probably in a room of that size 50 of us slept you know. and he had a letter in his hand and he said to me you have smuggled out a letter. i said i never smuggled a letter. i said i have written some letters and when i glanced over it, i saw that -- i had an uncle in turkey who was in the textile business because, you know most people from my town were in textiles, and i gathered that he knew my uncle because it was a letter later on my uncle told me he had written to him.
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>> who had written to who? >> my uncle when we found out what camp i was in had written to keller about that because he had that thing and keller looked at me and asked me a number of questions. interesting thing was apparently my uncle had sent a package and they encouraged me to write for more packages. the packages apparently contained chocolate and things which were not obtainable which i never saw. they said the package must have been ripped up but it looked in a very sturdy wooden box but i was only too happy to write to my uncle that i had received the package as i was told in very good order because apparently they wanted those things, but this way i knew that my uncle -- i knew my uncle was in safe, he was in turkey, but he knew where i was. anyway back to the thing, of course, we came to the camp which was like heaven by comparison. we then faced another difficulty, and that difficulty was that we worked the night shift only.
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so, you know, we didn't see any light of day except, you know, if you got up during the day you could, and we worked from probably a year or maybe even longer on the night shift but, you know, fraukeckler -- things got worse because there was very little food but she went on in the same vein as she was before. >> tell us a little bit more about this, about frau keckler. >> for instance, if somebody was ill, they were not the things that happened in other camps and auschwitz, the beatings and things like that you got some sort of care or understanding or it was -- things were covered for you a bit as far as work was concerned. she tried to get vegetables. i don't know what rations were, but whatever was so-called coming to us and believe they things were laughable, but we
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got it. i remember one thing i always tell young people you know they knew of the jewish holidays. there was one yom kippur they marched us out and told us about the holidays and told that if anybody would be foolish enough to fast, that would be construed as sabotage and sabotage was punishable by death and everybody fasted. and we were given noodles and sugar and nobody touched it and i think those are the things that i think future generations should know. and to me -- and i remember that night when we got our miserable smelling vegetables or whatever it was, there was such a feeling of sanctity, almost holiness. to see that we -- you know, if we did this everybody worked with, you know almost with such fervor and things that they couldn't fault us.
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i think such a oneness. so much nobility of spirit in the camps which somehow i wish would be better recorded. you know, when people reached out, you know, somebody had a birthday, so we would save -- on sunday we had margarine, a little margarine on the bread. so you would cut off some of the bread and scrape the margarine and give it to the person on bread so she would have a lot of margarine on the bread. we knew it was hanukkah and she was busy celebrating -- hanukkah and christmas fell together and she closed an eye to that sort of thing. we made a menorah out of potatoes, and, of course, we knew that, you know we couldn't light the candles. we made the menorah out of potatoes and i still have the things which i wrote about the story about hanukkah which we sang. i would like to translate it and
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give it to you. for one minute. when i went to israel for first time in 1961, my friend surprised me. i knew of three that were in israel, but actually ten showed up and i was 11th and they got out of the elevator in tel aviv singing a song which we had written for the first hanukkah in camp, and they carried the menorah which i naturally have now, a beautiful old silver menorah that they gave me in memory of the menorah which we made it out of potatoes. when you made it out of potatoes, it meant you didn't eat that night because you didn't have potatoes. you can imagine what that menorah means. when we light it we see our grandchildren reflected in it. so, you know, that was possible under frau keckler, and one of the things that we did was ilda and i dressed as grandmothers,
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and, you know, under the looms which we worked there was sort of a white powdery substance. we put it in our hair to be gray and we had a performance when the bunks and the one naked electric light, and see the faces on the bunks. it started out with, you know, we were two grandmothers. that's how it started out. and then we of course, predicted the brilliant future for everyone, and then our two granddaughters came to listen to us. strangely enough the person who played my granddaughter her name is fannie she lives in israel, her son was one of the heroes of the six-day war. ilda never lived to have a grandchildren so the ones who played her granddaughter also did not survive but our
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granddaughters listened to our tale of the past and i'll say it in german. the exit line and that was -- [ [ speaking foreign language ] do you understand german? >> translate it. >> come and look, i'll show you my newest film stars. obviously the granddaughter says. then because old people exaggerate so much and then we see them exiting. now, mind you we were 18 years old at the time, and we say to each other -- [ speaking foreign language ] dear children, let us just say that humans endure more than they think they could.
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and i think somehow considering how young we were, we must have touched the core of our existence, the hope that some day to live in a world where our children and grandchildren will live the best of all to live in such a climate that they will not believe our tales of the past. and that was possible under frau keckler. she didn't exactly hear the performance and we would thing songs in which we would say -- make probably sound like a summer camp for her ears and then they would throw in a few things in polish which were exactly not meant for her ears but by and large that part in contrast of -- of course you know, we were fortunate quote unquote, that we were taken earlier, you know, before auschwitz was in its full power
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because after that people didn't go to working camps anymore. okay. briefly, finally the camp was liquidated and we went to the most miserable and bitter camp. it was an enormous camp. its factory was one of the most beautiful in germany in as much as that it boasted the most beautiful collection of roses surrounding the factory. it was a direct contradiction of the beauty that reigned within. i don't remember his name now. we called him -- i will have to remember his name. that was the most brutal sadistic -- i don't know if he was director but he was one of the people that -- i wore a
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signet ring on his hand and he would jump like a cat and beat its victim until blood showed. mostly beat the faces. he would have sort of a glazed look on his face. i don't know if i tried to suppress his real name. he was a beast. things changed very drastically there. i still worked in -- for very little time in the weaving factories, but pretty soon they had very little raw material for that, and i was moved into what was considered sentence of death, the spinning. we were spinning fabrics, rather
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threads, which came from raw materials which the raw material consisted of clothing which came from auschwitz. it came to a place where there were huge machines which sort of shred that. it was not difficult to imagine that some of the clothes belonged to our parents. i worked most of the time on the night shift there, and i remember whenever the horror of some of that became overwhelming, one or at least i played a game. i perfected it and that was to imagine my homecoming. with all the details being there
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including the sort of things that we had long sold but it was a miracle of freedom. it all would be there. in any event the most dreaded thing there was i am not quite sure now if it was every four or every six weeks we would go to a doctor's office to be x-rayed because tuberculosis was rampant and whoever displayed anything was immediately sent to auschwitz. so you had a lease on life usually for between four or six weeks. i don't remember now if it was four or six weeks. there was something there with those x-rays. i did a thing which i will always regret. the last day that i was with my brother, we had to go to the
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jewish federation when he did his registering and we -- next to it was the rooms of the temple. and we climbed over the debris and we sat there for a moment and one column of the eastern wall stood undisturbed and everything else was in ruin. and arthur picked up a little stone and he handed it to me and he said just look at that column and always remember that our people will survive, and he give me the stone. and i made a little sack of it and i carried it on my neck. and when we went to have the x-rays, i took it off, and i had it in my pocket. i don't know it was later probably. i think it was on the death march that i lost it.
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that would have been one thing that -- the pictures survived because i had them in my boot, but i had lost that piece of stone stone. anyway this was about greenberg. greenberg was a miserable camp. there were a lot of people being sent to auschwitz. and then we knew that things were going bad with the war because there were not bombings but we had sirens were blowing every so often and we had to stop working, there was no electricity, and we were going crazy, being vicious. everybody there was incredibly bad. the men would stand outside for hours on a pail you know, and
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if a piece of bread flew over the fence everybody was beaten to say who got it. i'm proud to say about our people that nobody gave away the culprit. we all knew who it was. and i think that this -- you know, what has troubled me so much that i have read some of the accounts that people say how cruel people were, how they stepped on each other or they make it sound like it was like a snake pit. look, i don't know what happened in other camps and this is why i have always used my nadmaiden name on everything i had written and said. i would say people behaved in the most incredible manner imaginable by and large and i think that this should be something that cannot be emphasized enough. it was in greenberg that ilda
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once found a raspberry in the gutter on the way to the factory. she carried it in her pocket all day long and presented it to me that night on a leaf which she plucked through the barbed wire and washed it and gave it to me as a present. i asked her to take a little bit of a bite and she wouldn't. one single raspberry. total possession she gave it to a friend. there were other acts like that, many many. unfortunately, they are not recorded. and i think this is probably the greatest tragedy of them all, the nobility and the love that was there.
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anyway, when things got really bad bad, you know, we sort of knew when things are going bad for the germans they're probably going to finish us. when things are going good for them, or well for them i should say, they're not going to let us go and we will forever be slaves. and that became obvious in january of 1945 where one day we were told we're not going to go to the factory any longer to gather our meager belongings of whatever that was. the night between the 28th and 29th of january was great commotion, and suddenly the doors opened. we were then about 2,000 girls
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and an additional transport of 2,000 came from auschwitz. they told us they had walked for i don't know how long from auschwitz and we were going to go ton a march the following morning. destination later on we heard a murder camp also small and not known near berlin which fell into the hands of the allies when general eisenhower made a swift move on berlin and we started to march, now termed as a death march, 29th of january. i remember i had a terrible cold, i was coughing terribly. we were told to assemble in four abreast. i was ilda susie, and lisel. lisel is probably the most beautiful girl i had ever seen. she moved like a deer had huge
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brown eyes. she and susie were sort of like sisters as ilda was and i but the four of us together. lisel was from czechoslovakia and the four of us sort of formed friendships. lisel was the sort of girl who would look up and i would say, oh, it's raining today, do you think i should wear my green rain coat and she would say no wear the navy blue one and have you been to the garden to pick up apples? she would fall into any imaginary game and i remember that morning very vividly. you know there's such scenes in dr. shi va go when you see this incredible almost like a wasteland of white. it was freshly covered snow. it had snowed during the night and the whole thing in front of the camp, it was all, all
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covered with snow. and we were assembled, and they lifted their whips and forward march. and i remember ilda said to me, she said, i don't know how you're going to make it. we'll all make it. and i was coughing so hard. and we started the first step and i remember taking that step and i remember saying to myself this is the last chapter, but, you know, i never had any doubt that we'll make it and ilda was to my left, lisel next to me, and susie on the extreme right and i'm the only one left.
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i think the march is documented in many other stories. it was unspeakable. i had my skiing boots. i was the best equipped because i had my boots. at first we still had a little bit to eat that we took along and hoarded. we marched i don't know how many miles a day. we came to rest sometimes in a barn, not often. we stopped in a camp where
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blessedly a few of our girls escaped. i didn't. people were shot continuously. somebody stepped out of line and then you would see snow being red red. and the forest beautifully covered with snow and birds chirped sometimes, and we're marching. every day the number got smaller. and then we came to a place
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called flossenburg and in flossenburg ilda was already very sick. lisel, susie and i were still going pretty strong. one time we had nothing to eat so we started eating snow which is a terrible thing to do because the more you eat, the more thirsty you are, and of course, then diarrhea was rampant rampant. when we left one time they put us outside. they would spray us with water and then they would herd us we
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started to perspire, and they put us out again and pneumonia was just like that, people died like flies. then one morning we were told to assemble. we were going to leave. i remember ilda was frantic. she said that's going to be the end. i don't want to leave. i said we are so much better off out in the open, maybe we'll have a better chance, and all of a sudden came an incredible announcement that president roosevelt died. then i knew it was too late to run because we already constructed it timewise and it was and jubilation broke out that all the enemies of the fuhrer would banish in such a
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blow and it was horrible. we found something that compensated that a little bit. we found a wrapper of margarine and there was still some little vestiges of margarine stuck to it so we licked it dry. we thought we will certainly get very strong. and things got very bad from then on. ilda was really very, very bad, and one night we slept -- we used to sleep outside and it started to snow and sort of reminded me of the story of little match girls and we said to everybody don't sleep, get up, because if you fell asleep and it started snowing and you will never wake up. some people said it's the best thing we can do is fall asleep like that. and then we came to an orchard, and before we came to that orchard sort of something
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incredible happened. oh, yes, one time before that because i saw ilda was so sick, i said -- we saw a lot of people on the road already. there was an evacuation and people were in wagons sort of similar to when the war started. you know people were running away from the front and we heard somebody talking in a similar dialect, german dialect that we had. so we concocted a whole sort of story that we would runaway on the next thing and we will say that we will take our stars off and we will say that we were with our mother on the wagon and we got lost, that we are from belitz because we had a similar dialect and with names like ilda and gerda it was good and we really had a whole thing how we were going to do it and lisel and susie were doing something similar, and then we said our
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father was there and in order to get the number we felt very smart, we thought if they interrogate us separately, we used our house numbers in 1939 when the war -- to make it a long number if they ask they will see that we tell the truth. and we came into that little forest where we rested and we sort of took a signal to each other that we are going to stay there when they say everybody assembles, and suddenly ilda looked up at me and she said i'm afraid. and i was going so say, come on you know and i didn't, and when we got out of the forest, they rounded up 14 girls, some of our best friends were in the forest and we saw them all being shot. so right then and there i decided no matter what happens i'm never going to run away. i will go to the end whatever the end is but i'm not going to
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attempt to run away. you know because we felt people were already running, you know, and the gestapo, the ss was not much in charge, and, you know, it would be okay but we made a pact. ilda and i said we are never going to run away. we were saved by her saying we're not going to run. and it was either that day or the next day, i don't remember an incredible thing happened. people ran into the streets and threw bread at us. and so we had bread. and that night we rested in an orchard, and again it was snow -- it was spring already, it was april. so it was after president roosevelt's death so it must have been maybe the third week in april, and i told ilda to watch the bread, to hold onto it. she was usually very funny
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already at this point, and my very different -- and she survived. she's in detroit. it's quite a story i will have to tell you, how we found each other after the war. and what we didn't realize was that we had crossed over to czechoslovakia and those were the czech people who were throwing bread, and you see if i would have known that i would have stayed because they would have hidden us. we would not -- because if you could make it and went to a barn or something, very often we saw the german farmers turn the girls over to be killed and never in czechoslovakia. there was a wagon and they threw something and it landed and it was an egg and i was sure that that egg is going to make ilda well. we hadn't seen an egg in years and years. and ilda didn't even feel like having it. and then one night we were again
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out in the meadow snowing or raining raining, and a very dear friend of mine, her name is hanga keller. she lives in israel. she had two potatoes. i devoured mine i was so hungry and ilda said i'm not hungry. she said to me you eat it. i thought maybe she will feel better letter and i said i will hold it for you. and she said she was thirsty and i went to try to get water for her and an ss man came and kicked her and she said why?
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and then i tried to catch some water in my hand for her and she said something incredible. she said i'm not angry at anyone. i hope no one is angry at me and then she said to me you are going to survive, and she said if my parents survive don't tell them how i died. then she said something else. she said to me you have to promise me that you're going to go on for one more week. a week was a very long time. and she said promise. and i said i'll try.
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then daylight broke and there was some blossoms on the trees, and i have gone early and cut a blossom for her to smell, and suddenly i saw that the blossom was all dead, probably from her fever. and when the sun got up it was over for her. and we were told to bury the dead of that night. i couldn't do it. it's strange i know she was buried because my friend told me
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under a tree. i remember the most minor details and places the names of cities and towns we went through, and i cannot remember the name of the place where she died. i can't. and sometimes i wonder if perhaps it is so that every tree should sort of remind me of her. you know and she's become over the years my alter ego, my young girlhood my childhood, and every year on the 29th of april i sort of step back and see what the year has been for me some incredible things that happened on the 29th in the past how many years, 40, 80 years -- no 45. april 1945.
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i didn't see susie and liesl. i didn't know where they were because at that point i couldn't walk very well myself. and i don't know now if it was a few days later, whatever they really descended on us in tremendous vengeance screaming it was all our fault because the fuhre fuhrer is told, hitler is dead. we felt if it was true either they're going to kill us now or maybe we will survive. it was -- we came to a place in czechoslovakia. things were really quite crazy. a lot of people were on the roads again and soldiers running away and shall-- but we were still
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with the group. we had one woman ss with us and a couple men. i don't know to how few our group had diminished enormously from thousands. it was a handful maybe a little over a hundred. i think i was quite ill already you know, because i know -- i mean, i was ill anyway and terribly upset about, you know, ilda's death and one evening we came to rest at a place in czechoslovakia. we were this she can czechoslovakia of course. we were sort of outside. it was quite quiet suddenly and
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a truck came. we were going to go some place and my friend -- oh yes, one of the ss women came and told hanka keller to take off my boots. she saw i had good boots. she said i'll hide you and she hid me behind somebody and she pretended -- she never took them off and then hanka said to me -- and a truck came and the truck was going to take us some place. i have no idea where, and she said you better get on that truck so she wouldn't see you. and i suddenly said to her you know, i really want to stay here. i don't know what -- i'm in no hurry, whatever. and it was sort of a feeling that it is probably going to happen now they're going to kill us and it was sort of at that point quite warm after all the snow. it was a balmy night and i said
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to myself, well, i'm going to start thinking what it would be like on a night like being at home, being in the garden with my parents. so if they kill me that's the memory i want. and the truck came and some of our girls went on it. i didn't. we waited and waited and waited. the truck did not come back. unfortunately, i heard that that truck, there was one of the ss women who was pregnant apparently. i didn't know that, and i don't know they were shooting and she was hurt and one of the ss men turned and killed 14 girls on that truck -- no i think -- you know, it's funny how you play with numbers. 14 or was it 20 i really don't know. but a goodly number of girls and we stayed there and they came back for us and took us into sort of a barrack or a
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hall something like that and they locked us up there. we heard a lot of commotion. there was shootingcommotion. they were shooting. there were planes overhead. they attached the time bomb. we just went my husband and i, a reunion of the fifth division medical corps, who liberated edd us. we thought a while maybe they threatened it was a bomb or something. apparently that was so. they barricaded the doors with chains and things. we sort of knew they told us we were going to be killed. i think before that there was some shooting, i remember. shooting was going on.
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nothing happened. you know at that point, i must confess, that i'm not absolutely clear. must have been quite ill already or whatever. i remember sort of the night. it was quite turbulent. i remember them curling up in sort of the s.s. left and left things behind. i went and tried to sleep there. a lot of people were very ill. we knew the americans were coming. i met two the night before. then it was a crazy night. in the morning i asked where -- i asked lisle. this was the biggest -- they
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were shooting from planes and lisle was hit in the foot. she was lying on the straw. i asked her where suzy was. it was morning. she told me that suzy went to find some water at the pump. i went to look for her. there she was, laying in the mud. she was dead. and i didn't want to go back to tell lisle that. so i went out. you see, i had seen traumatic incidents the night before i spoke to them. that is very vague to me. i remember all the things of that morning. that was after i found suzy, and
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i couldn't tell lisle. so i went outside and i stood sort of in the doorway. it was a brilliant morning. i saw that morn ging, the steeple of a church, homemade white piece. i remember it was the first time i cried in many, many months. it was a strange thing that i remember that. it's funny because now i cry. i cry when i see a dog, cat, something like that. didn't cry many years. and i was standing there. saw all of a sudden, a strange
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car coming down the hill. no longer green. no swastika, but a white star. it was sort of a mud splattered vehicle, but identify neverfive never i've never seen a star brighter in my star. two men jumped out and ran toward us. one came toward where i stood. his helmet was mesh. wearing dark glasses. he spoke to me in german. and he said, does anybody here speak againgerman or english?
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i said, i keep german. i felt i had to tell him we were jewish. i didn't know if he would know what the star means. i was afraid to tell him that. i said to him, we are jewish, you know. he didn't answer me for quite a while. then his own voice, betrayed his own emotion and he said, so am i. it was the greatest hour of my life. then he asked an incredible question. he said, may i see the other ladies? you know, we haven't been addressed for six years. this man looked to me like a young god. i weighed 68 pounds.
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my hair was white. you can imagine. i hadn't had a bath in years. this creature asked for the other ladies. i told him that most of the girls were inside, you know. they were too ill to walk. he said why don't you come with me? i said, sure. i didn't know what he meant. he held the door open for me. let me precede him. in that gesture, the installment of humanity. that young american of the day is my husband. that's my story.
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i was very ill after that. they established a hospital. i was at the hospital for quite a while. i was told i was going to die. lisli un lisle unfortunately died a few days later. of the wounds she sustained. i was at the hospital for quite a long time. he told me he asked me if he could do something for me. i said if you could write to my uncle in turkey. tell him i was alive. to see if they hear any news about my parents and my brother. i didn't see him for quite a long time. the following day, the war was over. how i found out, we went to the locals. made a hospital out of a
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schoolhouse. >> you came to america. >> yes, we were married a year later in france. my husband came back from the army. we were married in paris. i came with him to the united states. i landed here in august of 1946. came to buffalo, new york, on the 13th of september. i have three children. eight grandchildren. i have one minute to make one statement. i wrote in a preface, my first book, something which is very dear to me. goes like that. i finished the last chapter of my book, i feel at peace at last. i have discharged a burden and paid a debt to nameless heros. unmarked graves. i'm haunted by the thought that i might be the only one left to tell the story. happy in my new life.
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i've written my story with tears of love. hope that my children safely asleep in their cribs should not awaken from a nightmare and find it to be reality. i've just put my youngest grandchildren, three weeks old to her crib. it is with this prayer i have for all children everywhere. i hope the world will be better. all children. you're watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter @c-span history. keep up with the latest history news. the fall of saigon was 40 years ago on april 30th 1975. next on american history tv the university of louisville hosts a
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panel of south vietnamese refugees including veterans of the south vietnamese army and air force. they reflect on their vietnam war experience and escape from the country following the fall of saigon. the panelists settled in kentucky. this is about an hour and a half. so i would like to introduce now the two moderators for tonight. dedet rrks tran and hao tran. they are the community leading effort behind moving voices and behind this evening tonight. it is amazing to have worked with them over the last few weeks, in putting together this event. dede is a daughter of vietnam war refugees. she is an attorney. she's also u of l alum. and this makes me really proud, she will enter the army, army jag corps this friday. this is really her last big
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event in civilian life before she's joining jag. [ applause ] >> and she will ship out on friday. to see her good-bye to civilian life here for a while. then we have hao. also a u of l alum and also with a masters from the school of social work. she came to louisville as a refugee with her family in 1994. without further adieu, welcome our moderators. i'm looking forward to an exciting evening. [ applause ] >> thank you, daniel and the university of louisville for sponsoring tonight's fantastic program. can you guys hear me o


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