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Holocaust surviovor testimony

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Holocaust surviovor testimony

The Holocaust was a devastating event. It will be remembered forever. Statistics are important to learn just how many people perished as result of the Holocaust. But perhaps more shocking than statistics, are the words said by people who experienced the Holocaust first hand. It takes a certain person to survive through this tragic experience.

To fully understand what qualities it takes to survive life through concentration camps, it is necessary to know what goes on in these concentration camps. By reading survivors' testimonies, one can get a grasp of qualities of people must have to survive in concentration camps.

Rabbi Baruch G. was born in Mlawa, Poland in 1923. During the summer recess from his religious studies in Warsaw, Poland was invaded and Mlawa was one of the first towns occupied. Anti-Jewish restrictions were enacted, a Judenrat was formed, and forced labor was imposed. The first time Baruch was forced to work on Saturday was traumatic, as was the first time he was beaten, as described below.

"I will never forget the first time I was beaten up, not so much the pain got to me, but the mental anguish. Instead of telling me how to put bricks together a certain way in order for them to be stacked up, he simply went over and beat me for it, without my knowing why. I couldn't even cry. When I came home, this is when I burst out crying. I knew one thing. I had to do the best I can - it was forced labor. But why? I mean, what right? What? It was incomprehensible to me."

Baruch later discussed the scars with which he is left with, particularly the lack of an extended family and some difficulties in dealing with his son. He also reflected upon his religious beliefs and his hope that people will learn from his experience and others like it, so that history will not be repeat itself.

Peter S. was born in Nuremberg, Germany in March 1936. In December 1941, his family was deported to the Riga ghetto, but was saved due to their father's skill as a professional auto mechanic. Eventually separated from his father, who died in Buchenwald, Peter was sent to the women's section of Ravensbr'ck along with his mother and brother.

"'surrounded by a stone wall, barracks, a lot of kids... this was not only a concentration camp for Jews. In Ravensbr'ck there were people who were criminals. You could tell who was who because everybody had to wear a color code on their left lapel, yellow for Jews. I don't know what the Gypsies had, but there were a lot of Gypsies there. They were probably more mistreated there than anybody else. This was the place where they did the medical experiments on the Gypsies.

...There were machine guns all around and you always had to be aware of that. ...The women were used as field hands and it was truly slavery. ...They would march off, and I remember my mother and all the other women sneaking in carrots or something--whatever they would be able to sneak in, under their dresses... They were wearing prison garb, striped dresses. ...Food was not that good...although there was bread and I remember some terrible soup."

Peter S. developed infections all over his body, and a large abscess on his neck required medical treatment in the infirmary. Shortly after, there was a selection.

"There was a one-legged girl who I remember being carried away and crying bitterly. And everybody assumed that this was her end. And everybody who was older was also put to that side and they disappeared."


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