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The Life of a Survivor: Living the Holocaust This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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May 27,1923, Jadia Szyjewicz was born to Abraham and Sarah Szyjewicz. Just another baby born into a big world. She was the youngest of five children living in the household. She was born in Sosnowicz, Poland living with her mother, father, sister and 3 brothers. They were a Jewish family like so many others living in Poland. As a child my Grandma liked to do many things that all kids love to do.

In 1943, when my Grandma was nineteen she was taken from her job at a factory in a Jewish ghetto, an area of a city that segregated Jews in which the Nazis had total control. She was sent to the concentration camp called Gleiwitz, therefore she never got to go back home and never saw her parents again. First she was put in Gleiwitz, a sub camp of Auschwitz, then brought to Ravensbruck. In concentration camps she was made to strive for her life. The concentration camps was a prison with barbed wire and anyone trying to escape would be killed on the spot. These weren’t any old prison, but they were worse. They had ovens not for cooking, but to burn the bodies of the innocent people that they had killed. Worst of all there camps had gas chambers that released poison to kill people. She was given little food. Many people even died of starvation in these camps. She had to stand for many hours doing hard labor because she was young and able to work; therefore the Nazis did not kill her. Despite the horrors she went through she was extremely lucky because 6 million Jews and another 5 million of non-Jews were not as lucky and were put to their death by the Nazis.

Just before the war ended in 1945 the Nazis abandoned Ravensbruck and my Grandmother fled the camp. She then learned that her parents and two of her brothers were killed in concentration camps. The only surviving sibling was her sister with whom she was reunited at Ravensbruck before the war ended.

She then made her way to a displaced persons camp (D.P.) in Heidenheim, Germany. This D.P. Camp was run by the French (all camps were run by the French, British, and Americans). A United States army captain who was in charge of one of the American camps sent one of the concentration camp survivors on a mission to invite the survivors of the D.P. camp that my Grandma was in to merge with his D.P. camp. That survivor who went on this mission was my grandpa. He met my grandma on the bus, that the captain hired, to bring my grandma to the American camp. They were married on November, 27, 1945.

On May 3, 1946, my grandparents and my Grandma’s sister left Germany to come to the U.S. to live. They arrived in New York on a ship named the S.S. Perch which was the second ship to leave Europe with concentration camp survivors. In New York they were met at Ellis Island by my Grandfather’s cousins who took them to their house in New Rochelle, New York where they lived for a year. They then moved to The Bronx with my Grandma’s sister to an apartment building. During the day my Grandma worked in a dress factory in Manhattan. At night she went to school to learn English.

After living in The Bronx my Grandma and Grandpa moved to Queens, New York. Then they moved to Brookline, Massachusetts in 1991. In 1994, my Grandpa died of cancer. My grandparents had been married for forty-eight years before he died.

When I tried to talk to my Grandma about her horrific story it wad very hard for her. I was only able to put small pieces of her story in because it is too hard for her to talk about it and she gets very emotional and it brings back horrifying memories. It is so hard to talk about this subject no matter what type of mood she is in or where we may be so I tried to ask her questions in small pieces so that I could get as much information without her getting emotional. It is also hard for me to hear this because it is my family too, but I am glad that I heard this from her first hand while she is still around to tell it to me. I am writing today on her ninetieth birthday, a special day for her not just because it’s her birthday, or that she has lived so far to ninety, but it is most special to her and my family because of how she got to this happy life she lives today.

My grandma’s experiences in the Holocaust ultimately shaped who and what I am today. Her decisions through life has made my existence possible. Now that my grandma is 90 years old she doesn’t have as many years to keep her story alive as I do. Therefore as her grandson I feel that I am responsible for teaching the horrors of what my Grandma and her family has been through so that it will never be forgotten and no such thing shall ever exist on the earth again.

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Kane said...
Jun. 25, 2013 at 7:30 pm:
This is a wonderfully moving story.  I look forward to more from this author.  I meant to rate this 5 stars.  3 starts was a mistake submitted in error.
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