Elli: the coming age of the Holocaust, Livia E Bitton

Hi my name is Elli. I was fourteen years old when WWII started. The Hungarian police were under Germanys command. All of the Jews lost respect and felt humiliated by the Nazis. The actions of the Nazis affected us deeply, they would mock and disgrace us to extreme points that killed us intensely inside. The place I knew as home day by day was being destroyed. The town of Somorja gradually was being invaded by the Nazis. In my family were my Mother, father and brother Bubi. As the days went by happiness turned into tears as the Hungarian military police raided and stole from our family home.

My Father would always tell us to stay calm; however he was finding it hard himself. In the beginning Jews were enlisted for public work. During this time a decree was announced that all the Jews in our area would be gathered together in a specific place. They allowed us to take one suit case. We also took food with us. We were together; my Mother, Father, Bubi and my Aunt Szeren. All the Jews were transferred to a ghetto, with unbearable overcrowding. This experience was devastating and excruciating never in my mind was the thought of living through the holocaust.

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In the ghettos the Women cooked in the yard while their children bathed, while the Hungarian and German police watched outside. On morning they announced to us Jews, that we’re being transported to a labour camp. We were brought to the train station in cattle cars, with screaming and beating they forced us in. The one and only window, in each cattle car had barbed wire on it. The car was filled completely with people without any room at all, it was hard to breathe. People around me began to faint, Aunt Szeren was scared. My mother tried her best to calm her down. The conditions were excruciatingly inhumane.

The train sped on for days till we got to a large gate, on it was written: “Arbeit Macht Frei”. We had arrived in Auschwitz. I was a young and confident girl, however I was extremely tired, emotionally exhausted from the sudden change. I was in a state of shock and by now I was unsure what would happen to us, I did not understand what was going on. I did not know then that we arrived at a death camp. The car doors opened. Around the quay German soldiers and German policewomen were standing. They were pushing, hitting and shouting. “Schneller”! “Schneller (faster, faster). The trains were emptied out.

We were placed in rows. My mother was holding hands with my Aunt. In all the chaos we were separated. Women and men on different sides lining up, Father and Bubi stood on the other end. The SS solider took one look at us and separated us into different lines. He asked me how old I was, he was amazed by my blonde hair and blue eyes. He told me from that moment I was sixteen, this was the life changing miracle of my life. My father and Aunt Szeren at that time disappeared from my life forever. My mother and I stayed very close to each other. There was a massive line-up of women concentrated in a field.

One after the other people were pushed into a room. Inside, German soldiers were sitting. We entered and were ordered to strip off all our clothing. Very quickly we were standing there naked. All of a sudden some SS came running into the room with scissors in their hands. Quickly and in a crude manner they shaved the hair from our heads and from the other parts of our bodies. A huge number of women were pushed into the showers. I felt very uncomfortable and ashamed standing in front of all those people who I didn’t even know. I, as a young girl, stood there naked, shaved from all the hair on my body. I stopped being what I was.

I was changed into a broken and degraded creature. The hardest part about it was losing my golden braids, I sat their and cried while my mother assured me they would grow back. In the end of the procedure I received a huge nightgown made from flannel. We were given shoes and were moved to a room which was especially assigned to women. Women walked around, and around, their behaviour and their screams indicated insanity. These were the women whose children were taken away from them. I would see fire from the chimney and little would I know it was the crematoriums. We breathed the stench of burning flesh.

Sometimes I would sit and watch the SS soldier’s line up the Jews and shoot them randomly. Every where you walked the smell and look of those innocent Jews left me little hope. It took time and suffering, but I knew that if I wanted to survive I needed to be strong. As the war ended I knew I was one of the few still standing. I have survived through all this torment with two of my family members. It is the Americans who have brought us to freedom. The war impacted greatly on my life. Even though it was ended I still wanted to help others who suffered like me. Until this very day, the memories of the holocaust will always be apart of my life.