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Remember the Camps

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My name is Hannah Szenes and I survived the holocaust. I was born on January 12, 1927. I was brought up by a Jewish family with five other brothers and sisters. Until the age fourteen I grew up in Poland with the intention of becoming a doctor. Then in 1941 my family and I were deported to a Nazi death camp named Auschwitz. I am now eighty-one years old but I can remember the camps so clearly. The smell of death and sweat, and the screams of people driven insane still lingers in my mind.

When we entered we were forced to form two groups men and women. Young children were allowed to stay with their mothers. I had one younger brother named Jacob who stayed with my mother and I. The Nazis then told us we had to be inspected. They would send the women who could still do labors work and have children to the showers, and the others we never saw again. We who made it thought the inspection were stripped of all our belongings and given petrol baths. They then proceeded to make us line up and run the camp walls. We did this for hours until they could weed out some others who were weak. They took us to our barracks and told us we wouldn’t be getting our clothes or supper until we cleaned our every centimeter of the bunks. When we had finally finished we were given soup that clung to the bowl because it was so thick, and bread as hard as lead.

Then, we were given our jobs. Some women were put to work cleaning the Nazi houses. Other women made food during the day to feed the camp. I had to stock the kitchens and keep inventory. This wasn’t always bad because I could collect the scraps and take them back to Mother and Jacob. One day I remember in July a woman was caught taking scraps from the kitchen. She was taken into custody and punished by being hanged. We were all gathered in the yards and they brought her out and strung her up. The men then kicked over the bucket she was standing on. The men then made us walk in front of her limp body as we passed by. I never brought home scraps after that.

In the following months we worked and our will was breaking. Many people during the holidays did not fast or pray. One woman told me that praying is pointless, that we have no God and if we did he wouldn’t make us suffer the way we did. After this I did not know what to believe. Mother had been a diabetic and she was too weak to work. When we had another selection Jacob and I lost her. We were put into the children’s barracks and this is when I met Joseph. Joseph was to become my husband when we escaped the concentration camp. Afterward in 1945 we were librated from Auschwitz. After the bombing ceased we could see the American Tanks.



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