Doli Offner (now Doli Redner) and her older sister, Lea, stood single file along with a group of young women at Auschwitz as Dr. Josef Mengele walked past, dispatching each with a flick of his thumb to one side or another. Lea was sent to the labor camp line and Doli to the gas chamber. Doli couldn’t move. She daydreamed about being reunited with her mother and let herself be pushed ahead by the other girls, who were crying and shoving as whips cracked down on them. Then, suddenly, she was pulled from her line and moved to Lea’s. Doli didn’t know who saved her life, but at that moment she thought, “If somebody did that for me, I’m not going to give up.”
Sophie Zeidman Hamburger, 94, of Los Angeles passed away at home Oct. 10th with her family by her side. A Holocaust survivor, Sophie inspired many people with both her courage and her warmth.
The railroad car doors slammed open. “Heraus, heraus,” the German guards screamed. “Get out, get out.” Joseph Aleksander woke abruptly. He had been hallucinating that he was relaxing on green grass next to a bubbling stream. In reality, he lay on the floor of a cattle car crammed with men, women and children, many of them dead from a three-day journey with no food or water and little air.
“Don’t speak, don’t cry. The Germans will hear us, and they will kill us.” Four-year-old Hadasa Cytrynowicz — then Dasha Eisenberg — silently clung to her mother, wrapped in the goose down comforter they had brought with them from Konskie, Poland, to a hut near the Bug River, northeast of Warsaw. Hadasa was frightened.
When talking about Elie Wiesel, who turns 85 on Sept. 30, it is far too easy to fall into a list of superlatives. As a child who survived Auschwitz and other concentration camps, Wiesel witnessed more death and more horrors than most human beings ever will. A onetime journalist who wrote for Hebrew- and Yiddish-language newspapers, starting in the 1950s, Wiesel has gone on to publish more books than most writers ever do, including “Night,” which has become the second-most widely read work of Holocaust literature in the world.
“Who wants to go home?” the SS soldiers asked the 500 women who had just been delivered to Grünberg/Schlesien, a forced labor subcamp of Gross-Rosen in Lower Silesia. Adela Manheimer, née Kestenberg, an only child who, in her words, was “naïve and upset and sick for my parents,” raised her hand.
“Mommy, mommy.” Five-year-old Betty Hyatt, then Betty Prins, frightened by the unfamiliar low, rumbling noises in the sky, jumped out of bed and ran screaming for her mother. It was early morning on Friday, May 10, 1940, the day she and her father were planning to travel to Holland to visit relatives.
Rumors circulated through Amsterdam’s Jewish community that married men were exempt from labor camp duty. Max Stodel — then known as Mozes or Mauritz — submitted the paperwork necessary to marry his fiancée, Jeannette van Praag.
Anne Samson (née Katz) was born in 1947 in a displaced persons camp in Salzburg, Austria. Her parents, Emil and Eva Katz, were Holocaust survivors from Hungary who lost most of their family members in Auschwitz, where Eva was a slave laborer.
Dorothy Greenstein — then Devorah Kirszenbaum — was upstairs in her family’s apartment in Otwock, Poland, preparing for her first day of third grade and coaxing her 2-year-old nephew to eat when suddenly the whole house shook. Bombs were falling.
In October 1942, George Berci, then George Bleier, was ordered to report for forced labor. Along with 1,600 young men, the 21-year-old was transported from Budapest to a camp near Bereck, Hungary, near the Romanian border.
In the early morning following Father's Day, Sam Weiss died after a long illness, surrounded by his family. One more Holocaust survivor whose voice is forever lost to the world, he was 83. He is survived by Margarita (Malke), his beloved wife of almost 56 years, his daughter Vivian (Chavi) and his son Leonard.
For three days and three nights, Joseph Davis — then Joseph Davidovich — rode in the crammed cattle car with his parents and six of his eight siblings. “We didn’t know where we were going,” he said. Finally the train pulled up to the Auschwitz platform. As the Jews were pushed from the cars, Dr. Josef Mengele, who was carrying a stick, hurriedly separated them. Joseph was directed to one side, torn from his family. His mother came running after him, carrying cookies she had somehow acquired, but a German soldier brusquely pushed her away. “That was the last time I saw her,” Joseph said.
In the early morning of Oct. 12, 1941, German authorities ordered the Jews of Stanislawow, Poland, to report to the town square. Six-year-old Robert (Bob) Geminder huddled there with his mother, grandmother and brother, George. The group of approximately 20,000 Jews was then marched to the nearby cemetery. Bob and his family, among the early arrivals, were shoved toward the cemetery’s back wall, where they crouched down. “If you stood up, they would shoot you,” Bob remembered. Meanwhile, people in the front were marched forward toward large pits in the ground, then shot. As they fell into the gaping earth, more Jews were ordered forward. This systematic killing continued all day, until falling snow and darkness halted the massacre of 12,000 or more.
The cattle car pulled up to the Auschwitz platform. As the doors opened, German soldiers with guns and barking dogs began pushing out the more than 100 Jews arriving from the Lodz Ghetto.
On a crisp, spring Thursday last April, Milken Community High School looked like a ghost town.
Charlotte Seeman — then Charlotte Leiter — spotted the barbed-wire fence ahead. She and her companions — a young woman from Vienna as well as the woman’s boyfriend and uncle — climbed over and continued walking. It was a cold night in December 1939, and they had crossed the German border near the intersection of Belgium and Holland.
Arrow Cross soldiers banged on the front door. Eva Brettler, then Eva Katz, hid behind her grandmother as the soldiers, members of Hungary’s fascist party, ordered Eva’s grandmother and aunt to quickly pack and prepare to leave.
Holocaust survivors living in Israel say the country isn't doing enough to help them, and some are resorting to skipping meals and medicine.
Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid ordered the transfer of more than $13 million to a foundation to assist Holocaust survivors.
"Abe, go. You’re young. You’re not afraid to work.” Bronia Rosenstein, Abe’s older sister, urged him to answer a call for strong, healthy men to work outside the Lodz ghetto. It was November 1940. Abe was 21 and for nine months he had been living in one small room with his parents, two sisters and one brother. Abe signed up to work. Living conditions in the ghetto were deteriorating, and people were dying from hunger on the street daily. On the day he reported for work, he spotted his mother standing behind a barbed-wire fence, crying. “It was the last time I saw her,” he said.
"The Jews are going to be taken from the ghetto and killed.”
Three weeks ago, my ima, Peppi Feller, passed away at the age of 96. She was a remarkable woman — determined, honest to a fault, principled, sharp-witted, devoted, a fighter, a survivor.
Auschwitz survivor Liza Zajac Novera — who goes by Lea — was on an anniversary cruise with her husband to Iguazu Falls in September 1977, when she got the call. Her sister-in-law told her that armed men had come to their apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and had taken away her two sons, law students.
Even though 67 years had passed since they last saw each other, Wladyslawa Dudziak and Rozia Beiman reunited as if they hadn't missed a moment.
A collection of pre-World War II posters that were returned to the heir of a Jewish dentist who fled the Nazis is going on sale. The more than 4,300 posters collected by Hans Sachs and looted by the Nazis will be auctioned at Guernsey's in New York on Jan. 18, though the auction house is seeking to sell the entire collection to one buyer. The posters are worth about $5.8 million, according to Bloomberg.
On Oct. 2, Alex Hershaft, a Holocaust survivor and founder of the nonprofit Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), sat on the ground with some 100 other protesters in front of the Farmer John pig slaughterhouse in Vernon, Calif., blocking the entrance from two bi-level trucks carrying 200 pigs that had arrived to be slaughtered that day. In the next 24 hours, the pigs would be among 6,000 animals that would be stunned by electrical shock, hoisted up by their hind legs and their necks slit in the plant, which is the largest pig slaughterhouse on the West Coast.
It’s an age-old, common dilemma faced by adult children of aging parents: What is the right thing to do when those parents begin to lose their faculties? That theme is at the heart of “Surviving Mama,” by playwright Sonia Levitin, which opens Oct. 12 at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica.
The train arrived at Dachau one morning in late November 1944. As the doors opened, German soldiers wielding big sticks yelled, “Raus, raus” (“Out, out”). Alex Friedman and the other Jewish prisoners exited, were marched toward the camp and, outside in the snow and cold, ordered to strip.
“Leave your possessions. We will bring them to you,” a Jewish commando greeted the trainload of Jews arriving at Auschwitz. He pointed to Regina Landowicz’s mother: “Too old.” And to her sister Lillie: “Too young.” Sally, another sister, took scissors from her rucksack and quickly trimmed their mother’s hair and lopped off Lillie’s braids as German soldiers shouted, “Raus, raus!” (Out, out!) On the platform, a German soldier tried to grab Lillie from their mother’s arms, but their mother clutched her tightly, even as he beat her.
Eli Zborowski, a Holocaust survivor who founded and served as the chairman of the American Society for Yad Vashem, has died.
"Hey, you Jew. Open up the door.' It was 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning, just before Passover 1944, when two gendarmes in the village of Chiesd, Transylvania, banged on the door where 12-year-old Edith Izsak lived with her parents, three siblings and two young cousins.
The cattle car doors opened onto the Auschwitz platform and Hedy Markowitz, abruptly separated from her mother and younger brothers, was pushed along a walkway. She was first detained at a building where two Jewish prisoners shaved her head, and was then ushered into another building and ordered to undress. She took off the pink and blue plaid suit that her mother’s friend had sewn for her 16th birthday.
Ablack lattice of metal piping spreads in front of a dark, curved wall holding a large cluster of television screens. About 20 people stand or sit transfixed beneath this Tree of Testimony, watching the faces of about 70 Holocaust survivors as they laugh, cry, gesticulate and often just sit solemnly while speaking to the camera.
“Where are the dollars?” two plainclothes Gestapo officers demanded as they appeared without warning on both sides of Sol Berger. Sol denied any knowledge, even though the daughter of a local currency dealer was hovering nearby at the train station in Tarnow, Poland, holding the dollars he desperately needed to immigrate to Palestine.
From the upstairs bedroom she shared with four girls, Sonja Blits heard the soldiers marching through the quiet village of Zaandijk, outside Amsterdam, where she was being hidden by a generous Dutch family. "Remember, stay below the windowsill," Moe Haidel, the other girls' mother, reminded her. But, drawn to the unusual noise, Sonja stood up and peeked through the curtain. Her eyes fixed on the SS troops' black boots making clicking noises on the brick street. That sound continued to haunt her.
Roni Bibring was 15 when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Four years later, her treatment completed, she says her biggest challenge -- having lost touch with many of her friends -- is making new friends who understand what she’s been through.
As Masha Sapoznikow returned to the Kovno ghetto just past noon on March 27, 1944, she sensed an eerie quiet. German and Lithuanian soldiers, armed with machine guns, were uncharacteristically posted at the gate.
The JTA recently published an op-ed by Menachem Rosensaft which gratuitously offers an “alternative” to the legislation that Holocaust survivors and children and grandchildren of survivors are seeking in Congress. The bills Rosensaft patronizingly calls “well-intentioned” are necessary to restore our rights to go to U.S. courts to recover insurance policies sold by Allianz, Generali, AXA, and other global insurers to our parents and grandparents which the companies dishonored after the Holocaust.
Three U.S. senators introduced legislation Thursday aimed at supporting programs to assist aging Holocaust survivors.
There is a solution to get us beyond the seemingly endless stalemates and complications that continue to characterize the ongoing debate over Holocaust-era insurance claims. And I do not believe it can be found in the well-intentioned bill before the U.S. Congress.
The Claims Conference is tripling its aid to Greece’s Holocaust survivors in light of the country's economic crisis and funding an education program on anti-Semitism due to the recent rise of a neo-Nazi party.
Gad Beck, the last known gay Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, died in Berlin.
Edith Klein and her mother lined up on the Auschwitz II-Birkenau roll-call field. It was September 1944, and they feared being transported to a different camp. “Let’s hide,” Edith’s mother suggested, and the two darted into an empty barracks. But soon, afraid they would be missed, they rejoined the roll-call lineup, only to be caught and dispatched to the crematorium, where they faced another selection.
Gitta Seidner -- known at the time by the Christian name Jannine Spinette -- was abruptly awakened around 4:30 a.m. by a large commotion outside her farmhouse bedroom in Waterloo, Belgium. "No, no, no. What do you want with my goddaughter?" she heard her godmother, Alice Spinette, say. SS soldiers then kicked open the door and pulled the crying girl from her bed. "She's not Jewish," Alice insisted. The soldiers didn't listen. They ordered Alice to get Gitta dressed and drove them to SS headquarters in Brussels.
The family of a deceased Holocaust survivor must return to a German museum a 3,200-year-old artifact that he had brought with him to the United States, a New York state appellate court has ruled.
Jack Seror didn’t know what to do. He was 25 and knew he had to leave Salonika; it wasn’t safe for Jews. And now a contact from the Greek resistance had come to fetch him. Jack stood with his parents in their living room, crying. They hugged, kissed and hugged some more. “We have to leave,” the contact said. Half of Jack wanted to stay with his parents; the other half wanted to escape. Finally, his father, with tears in his eyes, said, “Go. And remember, if you survive, to say Kaddish for us.”
Arno Lustiger, a Holocaust survivor and historian who put a spotlight on Jewish resistance against the Nazis, has died. Lustiger died Tuesday in Frankfurt, Germany, at the age of 88.
The morning stillness was shattered in the German village of Ober-Ramstadt, as people started running through the streets, crying out that the synagogue was burning. Julius Bendorf, 23, could see the flames from his house. Later, around 1 p.m., a group of men broke into his father’s butcher shop at the front of the family’s house. The Nazis had already closed down the shop, as they had all Jewish businesses, but the intruders destroyed the counters, scales and other equipment. “These were men we knew really well, who bought meat from us,” Julius remembered. The men then entered the family’s living quarters, but Julius, his parents and brother had already escaped through the back door. The next day, the family returned to find their feather bedding shredded, their food tossed on the floor and the house in shambles. It was Kristallnacht, Nov. 9, 1938, and, as Julius said, “It all happened so fast.”
Only a precious remnant of Holocaust survivors is alive today, and many of them were just children when they went into hiding or ended up behind barbed wire.
A woman living in Toronto was charged in the United States with taking part in a scheme to steal from a Holocaust survivors' fund.
Ed Asner, aka Lou Grant, walked slowly to the front of the stage at the Museum of Tolerance on Sunday night, and in his familiar growl — this time with a Latvian accent — he softly spoke: “Thank you for the help that is not only material, but also moral. A person lives through hope, and I hope it will get better.”
“Raus, raus!” (Out, out!) Jack Adelstein — then Janek Eidelstein, 4 years old — was abruptly awakened by a dozen SS soldiers and Polish farmers. He was sleeping in a cave in a dense forest outside Krasnik, Poland, where he was hiding with his father, brother and an older sister.
In early October 1943, a day or two after Rosh Hashanah, Julia Moshe — née Conti — was walking to her bookkeeping job at the Atlas Watch Co. in Volos, Greece, when she heard footsteps behind her. “Mademoiselle, don’t turn around your head,” a male voice warned. “Yesterday SS soldiers came to city hall asking for a list of the Jewish people.” Julia started trembling. She recalled her mother’s words, “If the Germans come here, it’s OK if they take us.” Julia gave notice at work and hurried home. “Please don’t say no,” she begged her mother. “We have to go from here.”
“I don’t know where I am.” After three days and nights in a cramped cattle car, Miriam Rothstein — neé Farkas — was thrust onto the Auschwitz-Birkenau platform. Her sister Margaret and Margaret’s three children were sent to one side, her brother Baruch to another. Where was Rachel?
Albert Rosa spied his older sister Luna across the chain-link fence. He remembered her as beautiful, with big, blue eyes and long, dark hair. Now she was skinny and filthy, her head shaved. “It broke my heart,” he said. Albert had been at Auschwitz only three weeks and had given up two days’ rations to persuade a bunkmate to trade uniforms and work details so he could see his sister.
The train carrying about 1,600 Jews from the island of Rhodes pulled up to the Auschwitz platform in mid-August, 1944. Ezra Hanan, along with all the other men, was corralled into one line. His wife and six children were pushed into another.