At 8, her happy childhood in Austria ended with the Nazi annexation. The day it happened she went to visit her best friend, a Catholic. This girl’s mother opened the door, refused to let her in, saying ‘never to come here again’. Being a Jew led rapidly to discrimination and poverty.
At 9 years old, her father left for Holland. She, her mother and brother Heinz crossed illegally into Belgium. At 10, she witnessed her second Nazi occupation, so the family fled to Holland.
From the age of 10 to 14 they went from one safe house to the next. The family had to split, father and son, mother and daughter together. Their secret hiding places were often needed.
On her 15th birthday there was a knock on the door. A ‘nurse’ they had trusted turned out to have been a double agent. Her brother and father had also been picked up. They were all transported to Auschwitz. She said they all knew about what went on at this death camp. Dr Mengele stood as they disembarked, separating some to die, some to live.
Forced to work hard every day, a bowl of thin ‘soup’ in the morning, a chunk of bread at night. As people died, she saw them ‘replaced’. She got frostbite that cold winter. One day the Nazis went, leaving 300 women and 500 men alone in this vast camp (10 sq miles.) They had nothing till the Russian ‘liberators’ gave them a hot meal.
I just can’t imagine all that happening to anyone before reaching 17. She never saw her father and brother again, but spoke without bitterness and hatred. These are stories which need telling, of hope when a government turns against its people.