Holocaust Survivor Ruth Brand Testimony


  The date is November 26, 1997.   This is an interview with survivor
Ruth Brand, born Szabo.   My name is Naomi Lobel.
We are in Maale Adumim, Israel.   And the language is English.   The date is November 26, 1997.   This is an interview with survivor
Ruth Brand, born Szabo.   My name is Naomi Lobel.
We are in Maale Adumim, Israel.   And the language is English.   What is your name, please?   My name is Ruth Brand.   What was your name at birth?   Rifka.   And your maiden name?   – Szabo.
– Could you please spell that?   S-Z-A-B-O.   Where were you born?   I was born in Cuhea.   And at that time, it was Romania.   It’s not far from Sighetu.   When were you born?   1928.   So how old are you now?   Sixty-nine. On Pesach, I’ll be 70.   What were your parents’ names?   My father’s name was Mordechai Szabo.   And my mother’s name was Fighe Gitza.   Where were your parents born?   My father was born in Rozavlea,   which is seven kilometers away
from Cuhea, and we lived in Cuhea.   My mother was born in Cuhea.   But at that time, it was Hungary.   If you would have asked my mother
where she was born, it was Hungary.   I was born the same place,
but it was Romania.   And 20 years later,
it was again Romania.   Again Hungary,
each 20 years it changed.   Did you have any brothers or sisters?   Yes. I had a sister
whose name was Sara,   and I had a brother, Fishel.   Which language did you speak
in your home?   Yiddish.   And in school, we spoke Romanian.   And outside the home?   Outside the home too. If we spoke
to Jewish people, it was Yiddish.   If we spoke to our neighbors
who were Romanians, it was Romanian.   Could you describe the house
that you were born in?   A simple house like every house
in this village.   Made out of wood,
but painted inside and out.   We had about three bedrooms
and a kitchen.   There was a yard and a garden
where we grew all the vegetables.   My grandmother lived
in the same house with us.   Actually, we lived in her house,
because my mother was the youngest.   Usually it was the youngest
who remained to live with the parents.   My grandmother did the gardening
till age 82. All day.   What I can remember best
about my grandmother   is that in the morning,
when we got up,   by that time she had already been
in the garden,   worked in the garden,
brought in vegetables,   and whatever she decided
to cook for breakfast,   put it up for breakfast,
and she was sitting and davening.   That’s the picture that is mostly
in my memory.   What was the business
or occupation of your family?   Times were very bad,
and people couldn’t make a living.   My father left for Argentina.   To start making,
getting a job, making business.   Also, they wanted to take him
into the army because he was quite young.   A year later, he was killed.   In fact, my mother
had been pregnant   with a third baby when he left.   He didn’t even want to believe
that he had a son.   A year later,
just when he was ready   to get the family over there,
he was killed.   So my mother all of 24,
a widow, with three babies.   So she opened a business,
a grocery store.   Akolbo.
Everything was sold in it.   And I helped her
because I was the oldest.   So, at age six,
I was already a saleslady.   With a stepstool, of course, to reach
the counter, to reach the scales.   But we were never children
in those days.   We grew up very fast.   How many people lived in Cuhea?   According to the Máramaros book,   there were 326 Jews.   There weren’t very many non-Jews either.   It was a small village.   I would say a third of them were Jews.   How did the Jews live in Cuhea?
What was their lifestyle?   They were all religious.   In fact, I think I was 13 or 14 years old
when I found out   that there are Jews
who are not religious.   Because, by us, the norm was
you were born a Jew and religious.   My grandfather wore ashtreimel
and a caftan.   My father was already more modern.   He already did not wear a beard,
and he wore a black hat.   But everybody had the same lifestyle.   Did the Jews own stores there?
What was their–   Yes. They were the shoemaker,
and the storekeeper,   and the tailor and the dentist.   That was the Jews.   The others were just peasants,
real peasants.   Was there a doctor in Cuhea?   No, it was in the next village,
in both next villages.   About five and seven kilometers away.   But later there was a temporary doctor.   In fact, if you heard
of Dr. Gisella Perl,   she did her internship in Cuhea.   She knew my mother, and when
I had gone to her after the war,   she was so happy to meet me.   And you know her story.   Usually, when I speak,
when we go to Auschwitz,   I do include her story.   Could you tell us   how the Shabbat table looked
in your family?   Very much like today’s Shabbat’s table.   Nothing much different.   Except I would say less lavish.   But we did all our own–
baking the challah,   going first to the–   taking the wheat to the mill
and have it ground.   Then bake the challah,
and make the lokshen.   Everything we did by ourselves.   You couldn’t go to the store
and buy it, there wasn’t any.   Everybody did their own thing.   Did your mother have any help
in the house? With the housework?   Not much, but sometimes   a Christian woman was hired
before Passover sometimes.   We did everything by ourselves,
more or less.   I remember even painting before Pesach.
We did the whole house.   I mean, you can’t make Pesach
without painting the whole house.   So, I was as young as eight   when I insisted they allow me to paint.   I had to do everything.
I had to know everything.   I had to help with kneading the dough.   My mother said, “You’re so skinny.   Your back is going to break.
Your arms are going to break.”   I went, “No, I have to do it.
I have to.”   Or milking the cow or anything.   Could you tell us a little bit
about the Pesach preparations?   Again, Pesach preparations
we did very thorough, very thorough.   Painting the whole house inside and out.   Going to help bake matzoth.   As children, we went to look.
We weren’t allowed in.   But there was communal matzo baking.   There was   a distribution of money
for the poor people   who didn’t have any money for Pesach.  Maos Chittim.  It was active.   To be  hachnasat orchim,
that was one of the biggest things.   My grandmother from my father’s side,
who lived seven kilometers away,   Her husband, my grandfather,
was in America.   He went to earn money.   She had seven children.   She did all her own work.   Like cutting the grass to bring it in
and to feed the cows.   Do all her own work. Cooking and baking,
of course, and bringing up the children.   Two sons were already
with my grandfather in America,   but she still had five children around.   But she had every week   yeshivabochurimeating at her house,   who were learning in yeshiva in that area.   She gave them–
It was called atog,a day.   A day of the week where she prepared
food for these boys.   That’s how–   My other grandmother, the one
that we lived with, my mother’s mother,   she would know exactly
who is missing flour,   and who is missing sugar
and who needs milk.   She would send my mother,
who was the youngest,   was called theshicker. Shickenmeans “to send” in Yiddish.   But alsoshicker,“drunk,”
a drunk person.   That’s how our grandmothers
and our mothers taught us.   Can you describe a wedding in Cuhea?   Weddings took place sometimes on Friday.   Friday afternoon.   Then, on Saturday night,
it was followed with a party. Dancing.   It wasn’t as lavish as a wedding
over here or in America,   but weddings werelebedik.  They had klezmer.   The klezmer came to play the music.   Actually, you paid for a dance.   You paid and you chose the song
that they should sing.   It’s called–   And they said–   “I paid them now. I’m dancing my dance.”   Were there any interesting characters
in your city that you remember?   Any interesting people?
Out of the ordinary?   No. Very plain people.   Very good people.
Cared about each other.   Tried to help each other.   How was the relationship between
the Jews and the non-Jews in Cuhea?   They were very good neighbors.   Till the Germans came in.   They were your best friends,   and they depended on the Jew
for everything.   For every piece of advice,
they depended on the Jew.   But, of course, when it came–   That’s before Pesach,
before their Easter.   They have a Thursday.
It’s called the Big Thursday.   Thursday before their Easter,
they go to–   Sometimes it would come out
on Pesach.   Sometimes before or after Pesach,   depending on the month.   They would go to mass,
and the priest would tell them   that the Jews killed Jesus.   It was a mitzvah to them
to go and throw stones at the Jews,   beat them up, break their windows.   If you had good neighbors,
they would come and tell you,   “Put up the shutters.
Close the wooden shutters   so that the windows
shouldn’t be broken.   Because we are told
we have to throw stones at your”–   That was their custom.   Yet, I just found this out
several years ago.   That the priest, as much as he was,   we thought,
completely not a friend to the Jew,   did save the Sefer Torah   and returned it to the Jews   after they came back,
very few, of course.   That was a complete surprise to me.   Because before we left,
our neighbors, our best neighbors,   became completely changed   and were just waiting to start robbing   and taking all the property.   After they came back,
I never went back   because they were standing and laughing
at the top of their lungs   when they took us out of the house.   Laughing, “We are finally
getting rid of you Jews.   You Jews pray forMashiach.  Well, ourMashiacharrived today
that we are getting rid of you.”   In other villages that I know of
they were dancing the hora.   You know,
a hora comes from Romania.   In other places,
the church bells would ring.   It was complete happiness for them
to get rid of the Jews.   I never wanted to go back
to see them again.   That remained in my mind.   Do you remember the name of the priest
who saved the Sefer Torah?   No. No.   I had left the village
about two years before.   I was only 14 when I left.   I didn’t live there in the last years,   so I couldn’t remember all the people.   But I have one incident   that only came back
to me quite recently.   I only spoke about it a few times.   The chief of police,
his name was Greko.   Now I can’t remember things that happened
yesterday, but I remember his name.   And his son, Melu, was in my class.   Now, at one time, they had a–   They had a teachers’ conference.   The teachers came
from all the villages around.   From all the little towns
and from villages.   And we put on a show for them.   One of my parts was   that I was dancing the folk dance,   and I had to wear the native clothes.   So, of course, my friend
lent me her clothes.   I was dressed in Romanian clothes.   No problem of an accent,
it was perfect.   After we finished the dance,
another part of mine was   that I had to go out and say a poem.   I went out and our greeting
was usually,“Sanatate,”  which means health.   Then you said the title,
and then you said the poem.   I finished it and all these teachers
started applauding.   They thought it was great.   The chief of policemen, who was very
heavy and sitting right in the front there,   starts yelling,“Jest Zydówka,”
“She is a Jew!   Can’t you hear she’s a Jew?
What are you doing?   Why are you applauding?
She’s a Jew!”   They stopped.   Then his son
came out to say a poem.   He came out and he says,“Sanatate.”  He says the title of the poem.   And no words come out of his mouth.   He says again,“Sanatate,”
and the title of the poem.   And he can’t say it.   His father is yelling,
“Melu, Melu,spune.”  “Melu, say, say.”   He can’t.   And he turns around and he leaves.   My mother was in the audience.   So she knew the story.   It was tough being a child
in a Romanian school.   We went together
with the Romanian children to school.   The boys went afternoon to cheder.   The girls did not have
any formal education.   My grandfather taught me
theAleph Beth.  And from that,
I learned how to write in Yiddish.   With the Hebrew letters.   And to daven
and to read theTzena Urena,  which everything was translated
into Yiddish.   So I knew all the stories.   The mother taught the girls
the mitzvahs that they had to know.   To this day, I’m very angry   that girls did not have a formal education.   In fact, one of the things
that was atenai’m  that I marry my husband,
after I agreed to marry him,   was that our children will have–
whatever we have, boys or girls–   will have to have
a very religious upbringing.   Girls too have to know
as much as boys.   So I’m really envious of today’s girls.   You’re allowed to envy Torah learning.   That today they learn.   The school that you attended
was together with the Gentile children?   Yes. It was boys and girls.   The Jewish children were
the best students, of course,   because the Gentiles said simply,   “I only come here
because you’re forcing me,   because you’re telling me
I have to be in school.   But my father says
that I don’t have to go to school.   I don’t have to know
how to read and write.   I can help him with the cows
and pigs and all the animals,   and work in the fields without knowing.   He doesn’t want me to be a priest.
So I don’t have to know.   But you’re telling me I have to,
I’m coming.”   But the Jewish children
had it in their blood.   It was theAm HaSefer.
We were the best students.   Even though I was missing a lot of school
because I had to help my mother,   I was one of the very best students.   And sitting in the front row.   The best students were always sitting
in the front row.   Then, after the last girl   and then the boys,
again, the same format.   One day, they come in and say,   “You are Jewish.
You have to sit in the back.”   That was such a slap to me.
It was such a slap in the face.   I always sat in the first row.   Last Yom HaShoah,   I was asked to speak to first graders.   I did tell them about that.   One six-year-old says to me,
“In our class, it’s the opposite.   The less good students
sit in the front,   so the teacher can teach them more.”   Did you feel any anti-Semitism
on the part of your teachers?   Definitely.   How was it shown?   Very simply.  Zydówka.  Jew!   Or to get the marks–   Even though I deserved the 100–   the 10, up to 10 we were marked–
I was given a nine.   Even though I was teaching
that non-Jewish child arithmetic,   he got the 10,
and me, the nine.   It was just– We knew it.   I mean, I knew that he can’t
give me what I deserve.   What did you do in your vacation time?   Just helped my mother
and worked in the house.   And worked in the field sometimes.   I would do everything
I saw anybody do.   If I saw somebody do needlepoint,
I went over and I said,   “I know how to do it. Let me do it.”   Saw somebody sewing on the machine,
I went over, “I know how to do that.”   I just had to see it once,
and they allowed me.   Or see– The peasant women
would weave rugs.   I sat right in between the two
who are doing it   and work along with them.   A Jewish child wanted to know.
They had to do it.   That was their way of life.   But I did it because I wanted to.   What were your hopes for the future?   To have enough food.   Nothing special.   Did you plan some kind of career
for when you grew up?   Well, when I was already 12 or 13,   they decided that the Jews
don’t deserve any more school.   Another thing was that they decided
we must come on Shabbat to school,   which, up to that time,
it was permissible for us   not to come to school on Shabbat.   Then they decided
we must be present.   They allowed us not to write,
because they know we’re not allowed to,   but we must be present in school.   Okay. We’ll stop for a few minutes now.   …of an interview with survivor Ruth Brand.   We’re in Maale Adumim.
The language is English.   Mrs. Brand, you were discussing
your school experiences.   Tell us how your life changed
when Hitler came into power in 1933.   In 1933, we did not feel any changes.   Our changes started actually in 1941,   when the Hungarians occupied us.   We thought that then
it’s going to be better for us.   It wasn’t.   They had the same kind of anti-Semitism.   And, in fact,   a while later, they decided–   They were the ones to decide
no schooling for the Jewish children.   In 1944, March 19,   was when the Germans occupied Hungary.   That was the big changes
in our life.   Because up to that point,
we were hoping that   the war will end soon.   The Russians were so close
to our border.   It was only three months
after we were taken away from there   that the Russians occupied that part.   I would have had my whole family   if just three months later
Hitler would occupy Hungary.   After then, it was just
difficulties of war.   Not having enough food
and not having enough–   As Jews, we were not allowed
to sell in our store   basics that the peasants
actually bought from us,   which were sugar, flour, oil.   All the basic things.   “You are Jews
You are not trusted.”   Was there any violence in your town
against the Jews?   Not more than usual.   Like coming and robbing our store.   Or to beat up a Jew that comes
from a different town.   I remember one Jew, seeing him,   that they pulled his beard
and how he was bleeding.   It was quite a few months
before I could eat   because I always saw that bleeding man
that they pulled his beard off.   It wasn’t unusual though.   We were scared to go out
in the dark.   That the non-Jewish children
would attack us.   And beat us.   Did your non-Jewish neighbors
change at this point?   Did they become less friendly with you?   Very much less.   Some of them even came–   One neighbor came into the house
and she says to my mother,   “Well, where you are going”–   That was just before
they were taking us out of the house.   They were taking us to the ghetto.   “You won’t need your glasses
anymore, so give them to me.   Your set of drinking glasses.
You won’t need your china anymore.”   So she just took it
and let it fall on the floor.   She said, “If I don’t need it,
so you don’t need it either.”   But most of the people trusted
and gave to the neighbors   that they should keep for them.   Like linen or rugs or whatever.   When they returned, they didn’t
want to return to them anything.   Not many returned.   But their word was,
“So many of you are still alive?”   Maybe, maybe, three percent
of the population came back.   Young people.   And when they asked
for their property back–   My aunt had gone back.   My aunt is only a few years older
than I am, and we’re good friends.   She also had to go
through concentration camp   because her mother, my grandmother,
left for America in 1939.   She was told she has to wait
till her mother will become a citizen.   Then she’ll be able to take her.   So she stayed with brothers. She, too,
went through concentration camp.   But we were not together.   She did go back after the war.   She asked the neighbors,   “Give me back just one rug
or one tablecloth for a memento.”   She was told, “If you talk too much,
we’ll make you a head shorter.”   Some were murdered,
just by asking back for their property.   I foresaw this,
even though I was all of 17.   I knew the exact words
that they were using   to the ones who returned.   Did any Jews try to leave the country?   When? Before Hitler?   Well, while Hitler was in power,   and other countries
were having problems.   Most people were poor.   They didn’t have the means to leave
and didn’t get permission to leave.   The men who were between the ages
of 18 and 45   were taken into work–   companies.   They said, “To the army,” but they
were never given any army clothes   or a gun or anything.   They were doing the dirty work
in the army.   Like, sometimes they even put them
in front of the front, on the front.   That they should buffer
their own soldiers.   They were digging ditches.   So these men were   in the work camps.   The ones that were around
were old men or young boys   and women and children.   So when I’m asked, “Why didn’t
they revolt? Why didn’t they run away?”   There was no place to run to.
There was no place to fight.   There was nobody to fight.   Nobody was saved
by any neighbors.   I did find out later   that there were some offers   to save girls.   But they didn’t want to.
They wanted to go with their family.   What are you referring to?
What kind of offers were these?   To offer to hide them,
to take them into their families.   They would wear the clothes
of the peasant   because we wore regular clothes,
like today, the Jewish people.   The non-Jews were wearing
peasant clothes,   Romanian clothes,
which they did weave by themselves   the cotton for making the blouse.   They wore such aprons,
in the front and the back in colors.   That was woven.   Or they also did weave
their own material for jackets.   The wool.   First shear the sheep and lambs.   Then spin the wool.   Then weave it.
Then go to have it sewn together.   They did their own thing.
So they looked different.   Girls, they were willing–
one family, that’s all–   willing to hide them.   Men was a different story.   They would just pull down their pants
and know they are Jews and shoot them   and shoot the family who saved them.   Where were you
on September 1, 1939?   Home.   We heard that the–   Don’t forget, there was one radio,
I think, in the whole village.   But we did hear that   Germany invaded Poland.   We did hear after–
I was all of 11 years old.   But we did hear after
that Jews are being killed.   So what we did is fasted.   We prayed and tried
to get together some money.   If anybody was able to escape,
give them shelter.   That’s about all we could do.   Besides, you don’t believe it.
You just can’t believe it.   “What do you mean they’re taking
the Jews and killing them?”   It’s just unbelievable.   But as an 11-year-old,
I didn’t know much.   I didn’t know much what war is.   And, of course, we didn’t know
what’s it going to do to us.   From ’39 till ’44,
we did have difficulty.   There were no supplies of food
and other things around, enough.   And no business.   So it was difficult financially.   My uncles who were in America   and my grandmother
who was in America   couldn’t send us any help.   There was no contact.   – Why was this?
– The war.   There was no mail,
there was no–   No possibilities.   How did your family support itself
during this time?   Very, very difficult.   Grew our own vegetables and–
For the minimum of food.   The store that we had   was practically not bringing in much.   The peasants would come to us–   What they would do is bring
their produce, wheat or corn,   in exchange for oil, flour, sugar,   which we weren’t allowed
to sell anymore.   So it was just like selling them
some spices   or some dishes or some–   A very small amount of exchange,
“barterning.”   Barter it’s called, I think.   When did the Germans–   You said first the Hungarians came
into your country, I believe, in 1941?   Yes.   Did the conditions change any?   Not for the better.
We thought they would.   Except we have to start learning
Hungarian in school instead of Romanian.   The teacher that came back–   who was there 20 years before,
came back–   He came into the class and asked
whose parents were his students.   The whole class.   Him being a Jew, he wasn’t allowed   to give us Jewish children
what we deserved.   Especially because he was a Jew.   We understood it.   But it still hurt.   When did the Germans invade your city?   It was–   When they came in,
in 1944,   in March, March 19,   I was in Budapest at the time.   Because there was no business
and no food at home   and no school at home,
I went to Budapest.   In 1942.   And in Budapest,   I applied to the part for–
it was called.   That’s the joint distribution.   I was active there   and helped these children who came up
from these occupied villages.   I came to learn a trade   because I wasn’t allowed
to go to school.   So I came and I wanted to learn–   First I wanted to learn hairdressing.   But it was no religious place.   So I went to a place
where they made wigs.   At the time, the wigs were
a very good profession   because each hair was woven in,
like crocheted in, each hair.   It’s not like today’s wigs.   Today they sew a row of hair, a row here
and a row there, and they got a wig.   Each hair was crocheted in.   It looked completely human.   First a base was made.   A base of completely
the shape of the head.   And into this was woven in the hair.   The part, that was really artistic work.   I went in to learn this.   You had to learn four years
without pay.   That’s how you learned a trade
in Europe.   In fact, now my friend is–   I learned it at a family,
Hais, in Budapest.   When I saw the name Hais Wigs,
and I went in to buy a wig,   I said, “The name Hais mean
anything to you from Budapest?”   She said, “Yeah, it was my mother-in-law,
father-in-law.”   So her husband,
who was then a 10-year-old,   and I was a 14-year-old,
so we met again.   I’m good friends with her.   In fact, she was born in Auschwitz.   Her mother had been
eight months pregnant   when she came to Auschwitz.   There were twins there
who belonged to her sister.   But the sister wasn’t alive.   So Mengele asked whose twins they are.
She said, “Mine.”   So he allowed her
to give birth in Auschwitz   because he had the twins
to do experiments on.   So then my mother came
to visit me, and she says,   “Four years, your whole youth,   you’re going to spend learning
a trade without pay.   You like sewing just as much.   So why don’t you take sewing?
Because that’s only three years.”   Only.   “With a needle you can always
make a living wherever you are.   More than with wigs
and hairdressing.”   So I did that.   I went, changed,
and I went to learn dressmaking.   So you were in Budapest
when the Germans–   When they came in.   It was Sunday, noon,
when they came in.   And the women–   My sister was with me because,
by then, I was already an old lady.   I took my sister–   A year later, after I was there,   I took along my sister
that she, too, should learn a trade.   When I heard that
the Germans came in,   I really didn’t know what to expect,
what it is.   I was very naive.   Politics wasn’t really so much
in the air as to having a meal   and to having something to dress.   Because there was nothing available.   I said, “We must go home.”   The next day, we went
to the train station and went home.   We didn’t know that that’s an area   where they’re going to deport
the people right away,   and if you remained in Budapest,
you can hide.   We didn’t know. We were children.
Poor children.   Poor orphan children.   So we went home and–   After the war,
one of my cousins says to me,   “Why were you so stupid to go home?”   I said, “I couldn’t have lived
without being home.   I couldn’t have lived
not to go back to my mother,   to my grandmother, to my brother,
to be with them.”   Even if I knew, but I had no idea.
I didn’t know anything would happen.   What happened after you went home?   By this time,
the Germans were so experienced   that they did it express.   It was four weeks after they came,
and they occupied Hungary   that we were already taken
out of the house, into the ghetto.   They took one of the larger villages,
like a town,   and into that, they brought the Jews
from every village surrounding it.   What was the name of this village?   The name of the ghetto place
was called Dragomiresti.   And they brought the Jews
from Rozavlea and Stramtura   and Botiza and Leud   and Sieu and Sacel and Salistea.   All these villages surrounding.
I’m sure I forgot a few.   And into this town–   They got the Christians out of there.   And gave us like a room. Not large.   Like a regular living room.
Not a large one.   Into this room,
they placed four families.   Four corners, four families,
with all their belongings on the floor.   What belongings
did you take along to the ghetto?   That was a big, big decision to make.   We were told, “You’re allowed
to take two pieces of luggage.   What you can carry.”   So the decision is
you don’t know what to take.   Should you take clothes?
Should you take a pillow?   Should you take a blanket?
Should you take–   Don’t know what to take.   So we took some blankets.
We did take some pillows.   And clothes. We didn’t have
very much at the end anyway.   Like today.   Comparing.   In the ghetto, we were assigned
a corner on the floor, each family.   Then, it didn’t take them
longer than four weeks   that we were already taken
to Auschwitz.   We were told that we are being
resettled into work camps.   We sort of believed it because,
like I said before,   the war was coming to an end.   We knew the Russians are so close by
that they’ll occupy this part.   And that they need help we also knew   because we already saw German soldiers.   The Germans came into our village   just before they took us into the ghetto.   They were retreating on bicycles
from the Russian front.   And, of course, they occupied
our Jewish homes   because those were the nicer ones.   The peasants’ homes
were not very occupiable by them.   What were the conditions in the ghetto?   They did take the able-bodied people   to work on building roads,   cleaning, whatever they had to do,
digging ditches.   Or whatever–
they found ways to take them.   The older women and children
were in the house.   “House,” if that’s
what you can call it.   – Did you have food?
– Not too much.   How did you get the food?   If we had money, we bought it
from the peasants around.   Then, just before they did take us   to the concentration camp,   what they did is they allowed the people
to go back to their villages   for a day, to where they came from,
to get supplies.   So if they had left in the house
some flour or whatever,   they were allowed to go and get it.   We were told to prepare food
to take along.   And that we’re going to be replaced–   We were going to be in work camps.   How were you able to leave the ghetto
to buy the food?   Did they allow you to go out?   It wasn’t far.
The peasants lived not too far.   It was just surrounding us.   Before we left, though,   the community,
the people who were in charge,   made sure that each family
had at least a little flour   to bake something to take along
for the journey.   One night, they came in and said,   “All the men, ages 10 and up,
have to come to the synagogue.”   That was usually the place   where they took the Jews,
assembled them.   The whole night they kept them there
and they said,   “The women and children
come in the morning.”   So in the morning,
women and children, we went there.   They took again–
They took the men to march separately.   They didn’t want any revolution.
They didn’t want any–   So they kept them separate
and made them march.   They said, “You’re going
to the train station.”   The train station was–
to go by foot,   and you had to pass quite a big hill.   Of course, to carry whatever you had
or you threw it away   if you had too much and couldn’t carry it.   They did supply–
The Romanian peasants   were very happy to supply
a horse and wagon   for the sick and old, to take them.   But when they got to the hill,   to the mountain,
they told them to walk   because the horses can’t pull up the wagon
with so many people.   So my 82-year-old grandmother
was walking.   When I saw that, I got so angry.   I knew the Hungarian language.   But it was the Hungarianjandarms,
police, who were taking us.   And I yelled on this hill,   “What do you want from us?   If you want to kill us, kill us here.
Where are you taking us?”   I was just furious to see   my 82-year-old grandmother,
walking up this hill.   And now we’ll stop for a few minutes.   …of an interview with survivor Ruth Brand.   My name is Naomi Lobel.
We are in Maale Adumim.   The language is English.   Mrs. Brand, you were telling us about
how the ghetto was being liquidated   after being there for four weeks.   During these four weeks, was there
any action in the ghetto that you saw?   AnyAktion?  You mean uprising and things like that?   No. Rounding up of Jews
and killing of people?   It wasn’t very difficult.   We had no place to go
and no place to hide.   They knew every Jew’s name,   and they knew where
to find every Jew.   It was not like in books that I read   in Poland or Ukraine or in cities.   It was a small place.
Everybody was known.   Were any Jews killed there
during this time?   At the time of the evacuation,
I remember there were shootings   because they said,
“You’re not going as we tell you to.”   There were shootings.   And some people just died
not being able to make the walk   and were just left on the sidewalk.   So you were being liquidated.
You were made to walk.   – To where did you have to walk?
– To the train station.   What happened when you got
to the train station?   We saw cattle cars.   The doors were slid open.   We never saw cattle cars before.   We were thrown in like garbage.   Without counting,
without giving the honor–   I mean, animals, cattle, are given the honor
of getting a ramp, so they can go up.   We were just thrown,
physically thrown in,   with our belongings, whatever we had.   Now there were 80 or 100 or 120,
or families were separated,   or children were in one of the cattle cars
and the parents in the other.   Or whatever–
It did not matter to them.   And in this cramped condition,   my sister and brother and I
stood the whole time   so that our 82-year-old grandmother
could lie down.   It was terribly cramped.   There were three days
and three nights   of this unbelievable situation.   Did you have any food?   We had some food,
like I said before.   We were given some flour
beforehand to bake,   to make sure everybody had some bread.   Of course, there were no toilets.
We were given a pail.   And in these conditions,   there were people
who went off their mind.   There were people who gave birth.   There were people who died.   And three days and three nights   of this unbelievable journey.   Not knowing where you’re going,
where you are, what’s happening.   In the middle of the night,
the train stopped.   Again, didn’t know where we are   and what’s doing.   Somebody went up
on somebody else’s shoulder   and went to those slits to look out,   and there was written   “Auschwitz-Birkenau.”   It didn’t mean anything to us.
Nothing at all.   The secret was kept so well
that they could have told us   right in the beginning, “We’re taking you
to Auschwitz,” and nobody would know.   Maybe some of the leaders did know.   But the general population   did not know what Auschwitz
or Birkenau meant.   To backtrack a little bit,
was there aJudenrat  in your neighborhood, in your vicinity?   It was only a four-week situation.   There was no reason for them,
I guess, to form any–   They picked a few young people,   men, younger than–   and said, “You’ll be the policemen.
You’re in charge.”   And gave them a–   a band like–
“You’re in charge.”   So one of the men was made
to be in charge of our cattle car.   But there was no formal   organization.   Did you know when you got to Auschwitz
that you were in Poland?   No.   Where did you think that you were?   We didn’t know.
Just nowhere.   Somewhere. Nowhere.   When we did get to   Kosice,   I believe that was the point where   the Hungarians gave it over
to the Germans.   But again, to me, to us,
it didn’t mean anything.   In our cattle car,
nobody knew what it meant.   And even if you knew,
what were you going to do?   We were locked in,
really like animals.   Without any knowledge.   When you got to Auschwitz,
what happened then, when you arrived?   It was in the middle of the night.   What date was this?   May 18.   – Nineteen–
– 1944.   We were actually
one of the very first transports.   Maybe the second or third transport
of the Hungarian Jews   that we were transported.   It was 4,500 and something–   50, something like that, 55–
of people in this transport.   When we arrived,
it was the middle of the night,   and the doors slid open,   and then some men
came up into the wagons.   They were wearing striped
blue and white clothes.   We thought they are either   some people from an asylum
or a prison.   We didn’t know what they are.   They looked very strange to us.   And it started the yelling,
the shouting, “Out! Out!   Run! Go!”   We were thrown out,
helped to be thrown out.   If somebody dropped a child,
just walked over it.   It mattered nothing.
Just go, and leave the belongings.   Nothing was taken.
“Run!”   It was followed by beatings,
shootings and dogs.   It was dark,
and all we saw were fire.   Fire coming out of tall chimneys.   Not just smoke. Fire.   Very tall chimneys.   We had no idea what it is.   But what did hit us
was a horrible stench.   We had no idea what that was either   because it was just not recognizable
in any way.   Just a horrible, horrible stench.   And, again, like I said before,   we were forced to form–   to form   rows of the men on one side, the women
on the other side with the children,   and to form rows and run, “Go. Run.”   You didn’t know where you are,
what world you are in, but run.   Where to? Nobody knew.   Till we arrived to one point where   soldiers were there.   It was Mengele and his assistants   who were telling you to stop.   Mengele was in this form,   selecting the people
to go left or right.   We had no idea what it meant
to go one side or the other one   or what’s happening.   And in this–
And in this form,   I was the only one picked out
of my family,   and I was thrown to the other side.   I quickly ran back to go with my mother,
with my grandmother, with my sister,   with my cousins, with my aunts,
uncles– go with the family.   And I was quickly pulled back again
and thrown to the other side.   That was the last time I ever saw
any member of my family.   We were told afterward   that they were gassed
the same night and burned.   When I was thrown to the other side,   I found myself
together with my friends   and my cousins.   We were approximately the same ages.   I don’t know the exact number,
but it was about   between 12% and 15%   of people who were able to work   that were chosen that night
from our transport.   The same thing was happening
in the men’s side.   The same kind of selection.   Then we were marched
into a large room.   And in this large room,   we were told, “Undress,   and put all your clothes in one pile.”   And, of course, we refused.
We were religious girls.   We never undressed
even in front of our sister or mother.   Suddenly, there are SS men,   and there are workers.   The ones I mentioned before,
in the stripes,   these were the people
who were in charge.   Our own brothers who had been there
a long time already,   who were in charge of working,   cleaning up the trains,   clearing them quickly
so they can send them back,   and also worked in this place.   We refused, we cried.
Shouting started.   Beating started.
Screaming started.   And then, Dr. Gisella Perl,
who was there already a few weeks,   went up onto a table
and she said, “Girls,   many of you know me.   I’m Dr. Gisella Perl,   and I will be here with you
and help you,   but please do
what they are asking you to do,   so you can stay alive.”   That did quiet us down,
and we slowly undressed.   Then we were marched
into the next room.   In the next room,   we were told to sit down
on a little stool,   where they shaved our heads
and every part of the body of hair.   Then we were marched
into the next room.   And there   some water did come out
of the faucets.   Some cold water.   May 18 is still very cold in Poland.   Very, very cold.   Of course no towel, no nothing.   Then we were marched
into the next room.   There we were given
a thin, gray cotton dress   with a short sleeve.   I very naively thought,   “How very nice of them.
They’re giving us nightgowns.”   Little did I know
that that was going to be my dress   for the time I was in Auschwitz.   When this process was over,   and we went out to the next,
to outside already.   Real outside, which was freezing,
and we were shivering.   We did not recognize each other at all.   Even sisters
did not recognize each other   before they started to speak,
and they recognized the voice.   All your clothes is taken away.   And all jewelry. Earrings.
Every girl had earrings.   Because when we were born,
the ears were pierced   and we were given an earring.   That was the custom by us.   Everything is taken away from you,   including family.   What I thought about was pictures.   They took away our pictures.   I was lucky that my uncles
who were in America   had some pictures that we sent them.   That’s how I have some pictures.   But most of my friends did not have
relatives someplace else who had pictures.   Not even to have a picture
of anybody.   That thought occurred
to many other people   now that I talk to other people,
the pictures.   As if we knew that the people
we won’t see again,   but at least pictures.   We did not recognize each other.   Then we were marched
into the barracks.   The barracks had–   On each side of the barrack,
there were–   I call them shelves.   Wooden shelves.   They were calledkoja.
The Polish name iskoja.  It was a triple decker.   Wooden shelves with a little straw
on it and a blanket.   In each one, six girls went in.   But it was so tight that three of us
went with the head to one side   and three with the heads
to the other side   to be just like the sardines.   When you open a can of sardines,
you see how they are packed in.   That’s how we were packed in.   If anyone of us
had to turn around at night,   all six had to turn around   because there was not enough room
between us.   Then they brought us food.   By this time it was morning already.
And then they brought us food.   They brought us a bowl.   And in this bowl–
They called it soup.   It was the most horrible taste
we had ever tasted.   Even though for three days
and three nights   most of it that we had
was a little dry bread,   but not any warm food
or drink or anything,   and we could not swallow it.   It was cold vegetable soup.   Sometimes there was
a vegetable in it too.   We were given this like dogs.   No spoons.   “Here is your food.”   We tried to take a sip   and give it to the next one
and so forth.   Each one had the same feeling
of not being able to swallow it.   Then the girls who were in charge
of taking care of us   and taking care of this barrack–   Block, it was called.   – Which block was it?
– It was number 20.   And it still stands.   All they have
is from one to 20 in Birkenau.   I was in 20.   It was an unbelievable,
horrible experience.   We started to ask these girls
who were taking care of us,   who were there a longer time already–   quite some time already,
some of them as long as two years   and so on that they helped build
this horrible place.   We said–   They saw us not being able
to swallow the food.   They started to laugh at us and said,   “You stupid Hungarians.   You’re going to pray that you get
another bite of this in a few days.”   We didn’t believe it.   Then we said,
“When are we going to see our families?”   We were told
that we’ll see them “pretty soon.”   We didn’t understand
what that “pretty soon” meant.   We asked them,
“When are we going to see our families?”   And they were,
“What are you talking about?   Stupid Hungarians,
don’t you know where you are?   Don’t you know you’re in Auschwitz?   Don’t you know what’s happening here?   Don’t you see the fires burning?   That’s where they’re burning
your people now.”   We just fell back in terror   and in anguish and we said,
“They are crazy.   They’re here a long time already,
and it went to their head   and they are crazy.   How can they tell us that our people
are being burned?   What do you mean burned?
Our people?”   We were terribly scared.   Then we were taken to the latrines.   You didn’t go when you wanted to,
to the restrooms.   You were taken as a herd
to the latrines.   Which were like 50 in a row
or even more.   And there I see a woman.   And I recognize her.
She had come there two weeks before.   She came straight from Budapest.
She had her hair.   They did not cut the hair
of that transport that she came with.   She says,
“Where are you from,maideleh?”  And I say
“Rokhl, don’t you recognize me?”   She says, “No. Who are you?”   I said, “Two months ago,
you saw me in Budapest.   I am Rifka. I’m Rifka Gitza.”   She said, “I didn’t recognize you.
Where is my child?”   Her six-year-old daughter
was left with her mother-in-law,   and she was in Budapest,
trying to get some work and make money.   So I said,
“Oh, we were in the ghetto   together with your mother-in-law
and your little girl.   We were in the same room,
and you’re going to see her soon.”   She says, “No.”
And she started to pull her hair out.   She says, “Why didn’t they
give her away to a peasant to watch her?   Why didn’t they do something?
Why did they bring her here?   I haven’t got a child anymore.   Anybody that was not selected
is being burned.”   And, of course, I believed Rokhl
because she was my mother’s friend.   I did not tell it to my cousins,
the ones I was together with.   I said, “Let them still believe.”   I was a very independent person.   Didn’t want to hurt them immediately.   Even though I knew that Rokhl
was telling me the truth.   So the shock was most horrible.   As much as we didn’t want to believe,
when we started to see   the transports arriving   with luggage, with clothes,   with children,   and walking in, in a row,
like we were.   A few hours later,   out came a small amount
from that transport   of people who were really transformed,
like we were,   and looking like monkeys,
like we did,   all looking the same,
no identification.   That’s when we started to believe.   That’s when we realized
what that smell was.   It was the burning flesh.   That smell.
That horrible smell that we   experienced at arrival.   That’s when it hit us
that it’s really true.   That we have no more family,   and we were left alone in this world.   We’re going to stop
for a few minutes now.   …tape four of an interview
with survivor Ruth Brand.   We are in Maaleh Adumim.
The language is English.   Mrs. Brand, you were telling us
about your arrival in Auschwitz   and your realization
of what were happening to the people–   of what was happening to the people
who weren’t with you anymore.   How did you react to this knowledge?   With shock.
With the decision to go on.   That we must survive to tell
what’s happening to us.   We could not imagine that the world
or anybody knows what’s going on,   and it’s not doing something about it.   So it was the determination   of “you must go on.”   Did you get a number in Auschwitz?   About three weeks after we were there,   we were taken,
and we were given a tattoo.   We were taken to work.  Auserkommando,it’s called.   We were marched out of the camp
each morning,   the accompaniment
of symphony orchestra.   And worked in the fields   by digging ditches   or picking wheat   or whatever work there was
on the land.   – Do you have a number?
– Yes.   Could you show it to us?   All the children want to see it.
All the time.   I must tell you about the number.   One young child–   Usually on Yom HaShoah,
on Holocaust Day,   I have young children,
older children,   come in groups to hear me
tell them the stories.   Like they call it, “the stories.”   Then they have questions,
fantastic questions.   They know a lot.   Each time, they want to see my number.   “Show us your number.”   Then one child says to me,   “How did you feel
when they gave you the number?”   A 10-year-old.   I said, “I’ll tell you.
I looked at the number,   and I saw
the second part is number 18,   and 18 is the numberchai.  I said, ’I’ll live. It’s a good sign.’”   This child says to me,   “What is the rest of the number?”   I’m telling him, “Seven, three.   Three, seven, going backwards.”   He said, “Hmm.  Gimel, zayin:gas.”   I said to him, “You know,
I’m very happy that at the time   I did not know the numerical
number for gas, for 73.”   But you see,   because I hadchaiat the end,   even though they wanted to send me
to the gas many times–   Many times, Mengele did selections   to see whom he can send,   who doesn’t look healthy enough
to work   and to send them to the gas chamber,   but I did have number 18,chai,
and that’s how I survived.”   It was an unforgettable thing
for me to hear   from this 10-year-old who taught me
the rest of my number.   When I told this to somebody
at Yad Vashem,   the men had in different order
the same kind of number.   In different order,
but the same numbers.   So it does make a–   Sometimes I go in the street
and meet somebody,   and I see a similar number,   which means that we were
in the same day, the same time.   I walk over and I said,
and I say usually, “Well,   I was there in May
when you were there.”   “How did you know?”   “Oh, simple, very simple.
By your number.”   Then I have other people
who are asking me,   “Why don’t you have
the number removed?”   I say, “Why?”   They say, “I don’t know.   But why do you have to look
at the number and remember?”   I say, “I don’t have to look
at the number to remember,   but obviously it reminded you.   And maybe that’s the only reason
I was left alive, to remind.”   ’Cause I wasn’t any worse or any better   than the rest of the people
who were taken right away and murdered.   So maybe that’s one of my missions,
that I was left alive,   and I have to remind,
and I have to talk.   It’s like I made a vow that I will talk.   So whenever I’m invited,
wherever I’m invited, I go.   Can you tell us a typical day
at Auschwitz, describe it to us?   Well, at dawn, we were awakened   with whips, with screams,   to get out.   We had to first fix the blanket   and make our cot
very straight and very nice,   to cover it.   We were marched outside,
and we were given   a so-called coffee.   It was burned barley   with water, boiled with water.   That was our breakfast.   And then we had to stand
and sayappell,  which means we had to be counted.   A row of five, in rows of five,
in front of the barracks.   In front of every barrack,
there were the numbers   of about 500 at least
from each barrack.   It had to be perfect.   Which means, those who died
during the night   were also brought out
and put five in a row.   They, too, had to be counted.
Everybody had to be accounted for.   Because even if one was missing,   only one too small the amount
or one too many,   the whole thing
had to be counted again all over.   That meant counting
30,000 women.   Sometimes we stood an hour or two
or as much as they decided,   whether it was raining, boiling sun,
snow afterward.   It didn’t matter to them.   We just had to be counted.   Sometimes it was done for punishment.
That we were–   One time, I remember we had to kneel
in the snow for a long time.   This was the type of punishment
they would give.   Then we were marched out to work.   Usually, the work utensils   were at the place of the work,   like shovels, picks.   All kind of–
That was there.   We had a German woman
who was the kapo.   What was her name?   I really don’t remember.   No, we always had different ones.   But these were woman
who were sitting in jail,   who were criminals,   whether they were murderers
or political prisoners,   and they were given the job
to watch, these murderers,   instead of sitting in jail.   Some of them were very cruel,   and sometimes
we really had a good one.   They watched us,
including SS men,   who went with our group
with their dogs.   This was the morning.   At lunchtime, to the workplace   was brought this horrible soup   that was not horrible to us anymore   because there was nothing else.   We really did–   Unfortunately, our prayer had to be
to get a little bit more soup   or a little bit from the bottom,
so some vegetables were in it.   Because you had to havema’zl,
you had to have luck to reach   to the point
where you didn’t get from the top   because that was
mostly water all the time.   You were in the row,   and wherever
yourma’zltook you,   so you got your soup.   That was for lunch.   In the evening,
when we came back to the barracks,   again we were counted.   The partition of bread,   which was approximately
two slices of bread.   A piece thick like two slices.   The most   horrible tasting bread
that had in it–   What is that called?   “Saw weed.” A saw–
When they saw wood–   – Sawdust.
– Sawdust.   I wanted to say
“sea vegetables.”   No, it wasn’t.
It was sawdust.   And we got our portion.   And sometimes
we put it under our heads,   so we can have it in the morning
with the coffee for breakfast.   But there were some people
who were more hungry than you   and stole it from under your head.   We didn’t have a pillow or anything.   So I decided the best thing to do   is just put it in there, inmagn,
in the storage place.   Eat it up.   That was our supper.   That was our–   Sometimes with the bread
we would get   a piece of margarine
or a piece of marmalade.   Depending on what the transports
brought coming in.   Dr. Perl,   who had no medicine, who had to be
a doctor without medicine,   but with her soothing words healed us,   told us that if we smeared a little bit
of the margarine on our wounds   that were caused by working
with these hard tools, heavy tools–   We were young children   and women who never worked
this kind of work.   The skin would erupt,   and she taught us
to put a little piece of margarine,   like she developed
a new medicine for our wounds.   That was the daily–   Now I must mention
that when we were standing in a row,   and some of us would feel faint,   what we did is try to help each other,   which means that the one
that was weak,   we would place her in the middle.   She shouldn’t be seen
by theBlockalteste–  the one who came to count us–   that she is weak,
that she shouldn’t put her in the place   where they’ll take them
to the crematorium.   We pinched their cheek
to make them red   or even sometimes slapped them
to make the blood flow   and to help and support each other.   And don’t forget–
We were young children.   But the–   The need to help each other was there.   There were all kind of people.
There were also those   who would steal
your piece of bread at night.   Which meant that even sisters
would fight,   “Your piece of bread
is larger than mine.”   I was together with my cousin
who lives in Haifa.   – What’s her name?
– Chaia Kalisch.   She was a Fighe,
which means our mothers were sisters.   But she was a Fighe.   Her mother married a cousin,
so it remained the same name.   We would be together and say,   “You take the larger piece.”   She would say it to me,
and I would say it to her.   But there were sisters
who’d pull each other–   scratch their eyes out,
“Your slice is bigger.”   So there were all kind of people.   I’m not going to tell you
we were all saints.   But in that place, to be human
was like being a saint.   What did you speak about at night?   Oh. I’ll tell you about my thoughts.   We had to dig ditches.   The ditches had to be the width of you,   which is approximately   24 inches, width.   Depth had to be very deep.   So when you dig,
and you throw the earth out,   the mountain becomes higher,
and you get lower.   As I am short, I was quite deep
and had to throw it higher.   Then when you are already
digging more, water comes up.   Water. And in the water,
there are worms.   My thoughts were, at that time,   that when I’ll be in America,
at my grandmother’s,   I will tell them what happened,   and I’m going to wear
a navy blue skirt,   and a white blouse
and a red jacket.   But I didn’t know that that was the flag
of the American colors.   I didn’t know that.
But those were my choice of clothes.   I was going to wear
white socks and low-heel shoes.   We couldn’t get any low-heel shoes
during the war.   There was a shortage of shoes.   So that was my dream.   I even thought I was unique.   I was telling my cousin, I said,   “I am sure that they are putting
some drug into our food.   Because if it was just plain normal,
we couldn’t survive this,   what we are going through.”   Years later, after the war,
I found out they did.   They put into our food saltpeter   and other kind of things to make us–   First of all, to lose our period.   And second, to become zombies.   To do what they are telling us to do.   How did you find this out?   How did I what?   How did you find out
that they were putting drugs in?   Oh, I found it from reading,
from reading.   Also Dr. Perl in her book–
She has a book.   She put out a book that’s called
I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz.  She also said it,
that they had saltpeter.   I found it in other books too.   During this time that you were
in Auschwitz,   did you have any knowledge
of how the world was progressing?   – Did you know anything about it?
– No. No.   We just knew we are struggling through.   And with just the hope   that God will help us,
and he’ll take us out of there.   And anybody
who didn’t have theemunah  didn’t survive long.   Especially of the people
that came from our area   who were so strong inemunah.  That it’s God’s world, and this is
how God is doing it, and this is his will.   And trusting him.
I really trusted him.   I made partners with him.   I told him, “You do your part,
and I’ll do my part.   I’ll do everything I can to survive
because I have to tell.”   Then it became easier
because I had a partner.   What was the common language
that the people spoke to each other in?   Well, depending.   We spoke Yiddish,
Rumanian, Hungarian   on the group that we knew.   German, of course,
we had to speak to all the others   who didn’t know any of these languages.   Like the Polish girls.
We didn’t know any Polish.   But if they knew Yiddish, that was
the common language between them.   But they hated us.   Because they were there
a long time already.   And they said, “You stupid
Hungarians. You were still at home.   You slept in beds. You ate food
when we were rotting here.”   As if it was our fault.   We thought
they were just bad people,   crazy, to make us feel guilty
for their suffering there.   But after us being there for a long time,
we knew exactly how they felt.   We felt their feelings.   How long were you in Auschwitz?   I was in Auschwitz
till the beginning of January 1945.   Was there any person that you
were together with the whole time?   Periods were interrupted,
but I was mostly with my cousins.   Sometimes we were separated,
but we got together again.   And we got to Bergen-Belsen,
again we were together.   When did you go to Bergen-Belsen?   The beginning of January 1945.   How was this decision made, to go?
What did they– Was there a selection?   They just simply– There was a selection.
And there was simply–   Everybody wanted to get into–   getting out of Auschwitz.   Sometimes they came
and selected people   for going to work in factories.   Ammunition factories in Germany.   One day, they came and they said,   “All those between
the ages of 16 and 17,   up to 18, come.”   Everybody felt
that if they get out of Auschwitz,   they’re not going to get
to the crematorium.   That’s going to save them.   There we go
and I’m on the list,   and then they come over and say,
“Who is 16?”  Ausreissen.Come out.   I go over, “I’m 16.”   “Seventeen.”
Seventeen-year-olds come up.   “You go back.
We’re only taking 18 and up.”   We felt very disappointed
because we wanted to get to–   To go out of there,
to wherever they’ll send us to work.   The next day, they come again.   “Ages 18 and up.”   I said, “How are they going to check?
I’m 18.”   I’m going with the 18.   I go, and my number is
the third one on the list.   We weren’t called by any name
or anything, just a number.   And I see what’s happening.   Mengele is there with a stretcher,
and they’re taking blood.   I said, “If he’ll take blood from me,
I’m not going to live. But I want to live.”   I was crying hysterically.   With me was a woman
whose daughter was separated from her   just about a few days before,
and she, like, hovered over me.   A thought came to me,
and I walked into the washroom.   There was a washroom
with a small window that had four panes.   Very small size.   I never saw it missing.
One of the panes was missing.   I was very skinny by now.
I put my feet through.   My friends helped me,
pushed me out.   And I disappeared.   I see a group of women
coming back from therevier. Revierwas the place where they went
to have their wounds bandaged.   The– like a clinic.   One of them starts to call my name,
and I go to her like this.   And I go with this group to their block.   I knew that I can go into any place   because certain groups
were taken that day to work.   So up to the time when they
are going to count the whole camp,   they cannot know where I am,
unless they make a wholeBlocksperre,  which means to count the whole camp,   but they can’t because
some are working here and there.   I knew I can hide   up till theZählappell,
till they count us.   That’s how I spent the day
with these girls   till the counting time.   At counting time, I had to be back
in my place, and I came back,   and he had taken blood
from about 20 girls by then.   I wasn’t there.
They just called the next numbers.   I said, “If he’ll take blood from me,
I will not live.”   I mean, we weren’t good for anything,   but still our blood was good enough
for their soldiers.   So that’s how I escaped
that selection.   There was one other selection
that I must tell you about.   At one time,
I was taken to the hospital.   I had a horrible diarrhea,   and I was taken to the hospital.   They kept me there.   During the night,
I had a dream of my grandfather.   My grandfather passed by.   Didn’t speak to me,
I didn’t speak to him,   and he gave me a package of cheese.   I woke up and I said,
“I’m going to live.”   To me that was thesimen
that my grandfather is praying for me,   that I’m going to live.   In the morning,
when Mengele came,   and said, “I heard
there’s a new one here.”   They brought him over to my bed.   I was on the third floor.   He says, “Come down.”   I came down
and very proudly stood there.   “You’re not going to do anything to me   because my grandfather
is praying for me.”   When he told me to undress,
he said, “Go back.”   But that was my courage,
that my grandfather is praying for me.   And it was–   If you were scared and head down,
he sent you to the crematorium.   Okay. Now we’re going to stop
for a few minutes.   …interview with survivor Ruth Brand.   We are in Maaleh Adumim.
The language is Hebrew– is English.   Mrs. Brand,   during this time
that you were in Auschwitz,   could you tell us some of the things
that the girls talked about   among themselves?   We talked about food
99% of the time   because that’s how hungry we were,   including giving recipes to each other.   The recipes one girl
was giving to another one–   I’ll never forget.   She says, “When you go home,   you ask your mother
to make this cholent for you.”   You see, we were non-religious girls
together with religious girls by now.   This girl said, “My mother made
the cholent buying a pig’s leg   and adding beans,”
and she gave her the whole recipe.   I said to my cousin,   “She thinks she’ll get out of here
after a recipe like that?”   Because it was just not believable.   We were thinking about clothes,
talking about clothes.   And we were going to have
only one dress.   Why do we need more?   We’ll wash it at night,
and wear it in the morning,   and have a dress–
Who needs more?   I mean, we’ll never peel potatoes
and throw away the peels.   Why should we do that?   That’s how hungry we were.   And even wishing
that we had the crumbs   that, after the meal,
that if we had crumbs,   we would feed the chickens with it.   If we only had the crumbs
that we gave to the chickens.   That’s how hungry we were.   Of course, we already have–
Most of us have accepted the fact   that we have no family left.   But some still didn’t want to believe it   and said, “After I go home,
and I’ll meet my family.”   These were things to talk about.   My hopes, of course,
were that I will get to America   because I knew
my grandmother left in 1939   to be reunited with her two sons
who were there.   So I–   I had immediately believed Rokhl
that my family is gone,   my immediate family.   So my hope was
to be reunited with my family.   That’s how most of the time passed.   And, again, to have enough food   or to have another coat
when it became cold.   They did give us jackets.   But when I came out of the hospital,   my clothes that I had before that
was taken away.   I had better clothes
because my cousin and I would–   like I told you before, we would save–   Like, “You take the bigger piece,
and I take the smaller piece.”   We both did the same. And then
we decided to share half of the bread,   and for the other half
to buy something.   Like– This was the kind of buying–   The girls who worked in the clothes,   separating the clothes,
selecting the clothes   that were taken off
from the people that died,   from the people when they arrived,   sometimes they were able
to smuggle out   a skirt or a kerchief   or a blouse, something.   We have saved our portions.   Like, one day,
we would just eat one portion   and the other portion
buy for one a skirt,   or for the other one a blouse,
whatever we could manage to buy.   So we had better clothes already,
warmer clothes.   But when I got into the hospital,
it was taken away.   I think that’s why they kept me
in the hospital.   They liked my taste.
They liked the clothes I had.   So they can inherit it,
the girls who worked at the hospital.   When I came out,
I was given a most unbelievable thing.   It was snowing.   It was December.   It was snowing
and very, very cold in Poland.   I was not given any stockings.   High heels in the snow and in the ice.   And a very thin coat,   a very thin dress,
a very thin coat.   No kerchief. Nothing.   And was marched out to work.   At this time, we had to work in a–   Really dig.   There was water there
that is in an S shape.   We had to dig to make it straight.   I’m angry to this day   that I found no record of pictures,
anyplace, of us.   Obviously we weren’t interesting enough   to the SS or to anybody else
to take pictures of us.   There are pictures of men,
working at this slave labor by digging.   So we had to dig
through the ice and earth.   This earth, put it into wagons
that went on tracks.   Sometimes we had to “undig” the tracks
to move them to another place   and to carry these ice-cold, iron tracks.   We were children.   Some were as young as 13.   And we had to carry this.   I had no gloves and no kerchief.   It was very, very cold.   This was one time,
one moment, that I said,   “I’ll go over to the wires,
to the electric wires,   and finish it all.”   It was one fleeting moment.   But then, one of the girls
took half of her kerchief,   tore it in two and gave me
to keep my ears warm.   Another one gave me a glove.   Not because she had three.   She took one of hers off
and gave it to me.   This is the kind ofhesed
that is not usual.   Okay, I had also done
some things for others.   So they have helped me.   I can tell you of the Yom Kippur day
in Auschwitz,   in Birkenau.   Then you’ll realize
how we had to help each other.   That day, my cousin Chaia and I
were working near the crematorium.   We had to dig in the ashes
of ourkedoshim.  This day we had
a very good kapo with us.   A German woman.
She was a political prisoner.   We knew by the insignia,
by the color, what they were.   I think green was the murderers.   Red was the political prisoners.   And black were the prostitutes.   We had all kind of–   We knew the numbers.
We knew the tags.   Maybe I reminded her of her daughter
that she had at home,   I don’t know,
but she was very nice to me.   Also that I quickly learned languages,
and I was talking to her.   She told me, she told us,   that that bone we see there,
that doesn’t get burned.   I later found out
that that bone is theluz.  The bone that every person has
in the back of the neck.   It’s written that, from that bone,   in time ofMashiach–  When the dead will come back,
they’ll be rebuilt from that bone.   That bone does not get destroyed.   She told us about that bone.   She didn’t tell us, of course,
that it’s in the Scriptures,   and that whenMashiachcomes,
the dead will be resurrected and rebuilt.   I don’t know if she knew that.   My cousin and I decided
that we are going to fast.   It was a simple decision.   We’re not going to drink that coffee,
so-called coffee, in the morning.   And the lunch that we get,
that soup,   we’re going to carry it back
into the camp.   By this time, each one of us
had already a cup for the food,   which we carried on a string
tied around our waist,   and we also had a spoon.   We were already civilized people.   So that was our decision.   The SS found out that we were fasting.   So they decided to give us a present.   “Get up.”   “Run.”   “Lie down.”   “Push-ups.”
What they didn’t–   And the dogs after us.   If somebody falls,
the dogs bite them.   This went on,
I don’t know how long.   Then we are told,
“Go sit down and eat.”   So we go sit down.
Most of the girls start eating.   I’m sitting there with my cousin.   I said, “I’m not eating.”   She says, “Okay, I won’t eat either.”   Then the other girls say,
“What’s happening to you?   Why aren’t you eating?”   My cousin said,
“She’s much younger than I am.   She doesn’t want to eat,
so I can’t eat either.”   So they ask me, “What’s with you?”   I say, “Well, today is Yom Kippur,
and I’m fasting.”   They said, “Don’t you see
that God doesn’t want us to fast?   If he wanted us to fast, he would have
given us much better conditions.”   I say, “Well, maybe he wants to see   thatdavka,that in spite of this,
we are still going to fast.   So we are fasting.”   In the evening, when we took
that soup back to the camp,   it was sour, it was spoiled,   because it was a very,
very hot day in Auschwitz   that day of Yom Kippur, 1944.   Next day, we are taken
to a new place to work.   In this new place,
when we arrived, there were 200 girls.   We arrive to the workplace,
and there is like a mountain of tools.   Heavy pickaxes
and lighter shovels.   Whatever work tool there is.   Everybody is running
to grab a light one.   Naturally, everybody wants a light one,
but there aren’t enough.   The SS men are standing there
with a leather truncheon, hitting terribly.   Beating these stupid pigs’ shoes   who are grabbing.   I said to my cousin,
“Listen, let’s wait and decide.   Why get beaten up?
And just take–   Let’s wait to the end.
We’ll get a heavy one.   We’re still a little strong.
We still havekoach.  We are going to take a heavy one,
but wait to the end.”   Over comes the fat, blonde kapo,   and she says–   “You, little one, and you, little one,
remain themadrichot  to watch over the other ones’ work.”   I go to my cousin,
“You see the fasting worked already?”   So we are made
to watch over the other people.   Two hundred girls.   She comes back, the kapo,
and she says to my cousin,   “You know how to cook?”
She says, “Yes.”   “You know how to make cabbage soup?”
She says, “Yes.”   We were working not too far
from a cabbage field.   There was a little bit
of a barrack there.   Like a place where workers go in.   She takes my cousin
to cook for her soup.   As a result, the SS also go in   to see this miracle soup
being made there.   I am left alone with 200 girls.   Nobody is watching us.   I start yelling in Hungarian–   Which means, follow rest.   “Rest now.   Just look.   Bend down and rest.   And when somebody will come,
I’ll tell you.”   My eyes were all over to watch.   But my voice was yelling
to them to rest.   Because I knew that five minutes’ rest
could save your life.   That you don’t have to pick this–   I also knew that if we remain
in one line,   they cannot tell how much we dug,
how much we worked.   As long as some don’t run away,   and then they work faster
and some work slower.   I knew that this will–   It’s lunchtime.
They come back.   They come out of there,   and the kapo is coming to give us lunch.   She says to me,“Du Kleines.
You, little one, come over here.”   I stop like a piece of wood,
and I cannot move.   I say, “Either somebody understood
and told them,   or somebody told them what I did,
and she’s going to kill me.That’s it.”   And I can’t move.   She says to me, “Why are you
standing there like a dumb cow?   I heard how diligent you were,   how you worked
and told your people to work.   You come over here.
You’ll get double lunch today.”   It was an extra point that I gained.   Now these 200 hundred girls,
whoever was there,   appreciated this kind
of taking a chance.   All right, if they found out I–   But, again, you cannot say
one person can’t do anything.   Even one skinny, hungry,   16-year-old can use the head   if you are conditioned to it.   And if you think of the next one,
you can.   So when that girl gave me
a piece ofschmattafor atichel.  and the other one for a glove,   I’m sure they were in that 200,
in the group of the 200.   Or the one who helped push me out
of the barrack,   so Mengele didn’t take blood from me.   These were the kind ofhesed
that we did show to each other.   Now, I thought we were terribly unusual
by fasting and by all that.   I found in books that in other places
the same thing was happening   with the same kind of girls
who were brought up in a religious home.   And that’s why to me
this was so important.   To, whenever I’ll have a family,
give them a religious education.   You were in Auschwitz till January.   What happened then?   Then they decided to empty the camps   because the Russians
were coming very close.   They decided that they have to take us
to other places,   except to leave the sick people
who couldn’t walk.   We were very lucky.   A few days before they decided
to march everybody out,   into the death march,
they still had a train,   and took us by cattle car
to Bergen-Belsen.   I don’t think I would have survived
the death march.   A few of my uncles didn’t make it.   They were shot in the snow.   So you got to Bergen-Belsen
in January?   What did you see when you got there?   Barracks.   Filled with people
that came from every place.   Bergen-Belsen was a very nice camp
before we got there.   It was a family camp,
where they kept people from   other countries
that had passports.   Holland or American or English passport.   They kept them well,
and they treated them well   because they used them
as exchange prisoners   for their own soldiers.   So they treated them very well.   Red Cross brought them packages.   Some of them
could get from home packages.   They were with their families,
and with their hair.   I once heard somebody saying,
“We baked matzos in Bergen-Belsen.”   I said, “She’s crazy.   Bergen-Belsen and baked matzos?
What is she talking about?”   Because I didn’t know how Bergen-Belsen
was before we got there.   But by the time we got there,   even those shelves that
I’m complaining about, there wasn’t any.   At this time, we were on the floor.   This time we were crowded
like sardines on the floor.   And in the corridor
and in the outside.   Even though it was cold
and snow and whatnot,   we were on the floor.   There was no room.   Because from Auschwitz
they brought to all other places.   They didn’t want the Russians
or the English or the Americans   to find these people in the camps.   So either they marched them out
to other camps, or they shot them.   So we were really fortunate.   My cousin was in the death march.   We were separated shortly before
I got into this group to go on the train.   She was marched.
She came by foot.   But we were reunited again
in Bergen-Belsen.   She was very sick with typhus
because she volunteered   to help take people to the sick clinic,
to the doctor.   And, of course, she got typhus too.   I remember stealing
a potato and hiding it,   bringing her a potato,
and many other things.   I was working in a weaving factory.   But before the weaving factory,
we were just sitting on the floor.   One of the girls, her coat was stolen.
She was very cold.   So I took a blanket, took it apart.   And I don’t remember
how I had a needle.   I have no idea
how I had a needle.   But I made her a jacket
from one of the blankets.   If they would have caught me,
I would have been dead   because it’s camp property
I’m destroying.   And made this girl a coat.   A few days later, this girl was chosen
to work in the kitchen,   which was a fantastic job.   And she said, “Come at midnight.   When we take out the peels,
the potato peels,   I’ll put some potatoes underneath it,
and I’ll give you.”   How I went at midnight,
knew what midnight is–   Because we had no watches.
We didn’t know, but I got there.   There were another few girls who also
had friends who worked in the kitchen.   We are standing
in back of a barrack,   and there I’m thinking,   “When I’ll be in America,
I’m going to tell.”   But I am not thinking in the present.   I am thinking that this present
that I am in is the past.   “I was standing”–   I’m thinking,
“I was standing next to a barrack,   and it was raining, and muddy,
and my shoes were–   the sole was off.   So the dirt, the mud,   went in and out.”   Suddenly, I’m thinking,
“But this is the present.   How come I’m thinking   that I’m not in the present anymore,
that this is past?”   Afterward, reading the books
of Viktor Frankl,   I found out that the mind,
to preserve itself,   is doing those tricks.   Like he was thinking–
he also was in Auschwitz–   that he is talking to his wife,   while going on these marches
in the snow,   without knowing if she is even alive.   And even hearing her answer him.   But that’s how the mind is working
to preserve itself.   It has a refuge.   To the extent where–   But he was already
a trained psychiatrist.   I was just a 16-year-old,
uneducated, skinny child.   But this is how I was thinking.   Okay, we are going to stop now
for a few minutes.   …interview with survivor Ruth Brand.   We are in Maale Adumim.
The language is English.   Mrs. Brand, you were telling us
about being in Bergen-Belsen.   – Did you have enough food to eat there?
– No.   How did it compare with Auschwitz?   Unbelievable.   But just like the Jews
who went out of Egypt   were complaining
about being in the desert   and not have enough food,   we were yearning for Auschwitz.   I mean, our dream was
to get out of Auschwitz,   not to get into the gas chambers
and crematorium,   which by then we accepted already.   And we are in Bergen-Belsen,   but yearning for the days
we spent in Auschwitz.   And I can only compare it
to that period   of the Jews who are going out of Egypt.   They are free. They’re not slaves
anymore and complaining of the desert.   We got sick with typhus and dysentery.   The food was less and less.   About six days before liberation,   the SS women
who were watching over us,   who were really volunteers   and looked very well nourished,   shut off the water,   and they disappeared,   and there was
no more food distribution.   I would say a good 80% of us   were already dead on the floor.   In front of each barrack,
there was a mountain of dead, skeletons.   Only the bones and the skin
holding those bones together.   And the same thing was inside.   I was surrounded by the dead.   I didn’t have any pity on them.   I think I envied them.   They’re finished suffering.   Also they don’t kick me anymore.   No pity whatsoever.   I was 99% dead,   but had one percent left in me.   One day,
we hear over the loudspeaker,   “You are free.   You are liberated.”   It was the first time
of the whole experience   that I cried.   “Big deal.
I’m liberated.   For what? For whom?”   I was terribly, terribly shocked.   As if I didn’t know it before.   And then I went and started looking
for my cousin   who had been separated from me   because I was already
in the death camp.   I was removed to the barracks
in Bergen-Belsen   where the dying were.   But my cousins,
two cousins, were there.   And another cousin
that I was together with   had been separated from me,
and she was a year younger,   and her name was the same
as my sister’s,   and I was like taking care of her.   We did need somebody to care for
and somebody that cared for us.   Otherwise you couldn’t make it.   But you needed the one to tell you,   “Get up. You can’t fall down
and remain dead.   You must get up.
You must go.”   How I started to walk
is unbelievable.   I just picked one foot
and then picked the other foot,   and lifted it until I found her.   And when I found her,
I had one little step   to step up to the barrack,
the same procedure.   I put the leg up,
held on to the door   and pulled my other leg up
and found her.   And she was already marked
for taking to the hospital.   The English arrived,   and they immediately started
by putting up hospitals, tents.   What day was it
that you were liberated?   April 15 was the day
when they liberated us.   The next day, they already had
almost everything working.   But, meanwhile,
they saw all these few people   who are still breathing   and whatever they had
in their pockets, they gave.   Whether it was chocolate, or a can
of sardines, or whatever they had.   And more of us died then
than even before, from eating.   Because our stomachs
were not used to food anymore.   They were too sick.   Last year, we had a reunion   of one of the liberators.   A chaplain who was
with the British soldiers,   a Jewish man, who came
with the army to liberate us.   And his story was a shock to me   because suddenly I saw it
from the other end.   He told us that it was about 17,500   who died from eating.   He also told us
that the English soldiers,   who were not Jews, said,   “For this we fought?   Anything will ever be out of these?”   Like we were garbage.   All this was completely shocking to me.   To hear this.   In all fairness, they took care.
They tried to heal us.   But next day,
when I came to tell my cousin,   and, you know,
I tried to encourage her,   “Don’t worry, we are going to America.
We are going to our grandmother.   And I heard that your brother is alive,
and that your father is alive,   and we are going to meet them,
and we’ll go to Grandma in America.”   And she went like this.   As if to say, “It’s too late for me.”   And sure enough, next day,
when I came searching for her again,   she was already on the pile
of the dead.   What there was inside
is just unbelievable.   Unbelievable.   Several years ago,
when I was taken to an army camp   on Yom HaShoah
to tell them about my experiences,   the soldier girls, theChayalot,
they put on a beautifulteches  in each place where I’m asked to speak.   And they put on a show,   where they talked about it
and discussed the problems and all.   And, suddenly,
they are showing a videotape,   and the videotape
is the liberation of Bergen-Belsen.   And I’m completely sitting there
shocked to watch this.   I heard that it’s existing,
but I have never seen it again.   I had never seen it before.   And when they finish,
and it’s my turn to speak,   I said, “Usually, at the end of my story   I try to give you a feeling,
a picture of what this looked like,   what this was like, and I try very hard.   And it’s the end of my speaking.   But this time, I must start at the end.   I must tell you that all these skeletons
you just saw,   I was one of them.   But I did have
one percent of life left in me.   So that’s why I’m still here.
So I can talk to you.”   Then I asked the girls,
“Where did you get it?”   They told me, “Yad Vashem.”   Next morning I called Yad Vashem
and I said,   “I want the tape
of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen.”   They said, “Which one?
The shorter version or the longer one?”   I said, “Both of them.”   What happened was
that there was one Sidney Bernstein   who was with the British
and the American liberators,   and he decided
that this must be recorded.   He brought in top people to film this.   He brought Alfred Hitchcock to really–   He brought from around the towns
the mayors.   They had to identify themselves.   They said they never knew
anything existed.   The stench was so horrible
when they came in,   that they threw up.   One of the liberators
was Chaim Herzog.   One of the liberators
was Field Marshal Montgomery   who was a big army man
who saw war.   Who saw everything.   But when he got there,
he cried like a baby.   Because this was the most unbelievable,
horrible thing to see.   So what happened?
After the war, they come to England,   and he is starting to show,
in movie houses   and in other gatherings, this film.   And they said, “No, we cannot do it.   It’s too horrible for the Germans.   They’re too sensitive to this.   We have them have to rebuild Europe,   and their country,
so we can’t show it.”   And it was locked away for 40 years.   After 40 years,
they finally released it.   But I came across this
in the most unusual way.   To see us through their eyes.   After you were liberated,
you were taken to a hospital?   No. I was just given
small amounts of food.   I just naturally had a strong constitution
and did not need a hospital.   But got better.
They didn’t have hospital for all of us.   Where were you staying?   What they did is moved us,
the able-bodied,   to barracks that were used beforehand   to house SS men, German soldiers.   Nice houses, nice barracks.   And those barracks that we were in
were burned.   Because they were just–   We were also covered with lice.   What we would do is just, till we had
enough strength, push them down.   Just push them off our bodies.   I don’t know how
they still found our blood.   Maybe it was even easier for them.   We had no fat, no meat on us.   We were just bones
and some of the veins.   So they found our veins,
and they ate our blood.   We were completely covered.   The whole camp
was typhus, dysentery,   and whatever sickness
you want to think about.   And when we were moved into these
new barracks, new things started.   People started to send
their people home.   Polish, Russian, Czechoslovakian,   whatever, came to get
their former prisoners.   Get them home.   I didn’t have a home.   We have to go home.   What home?   A home filled of nothing?   To see that this is where
my mother was,   and this is where my grandmother was?   I knew exactly
what our neighbors will say.   I never wanted to see
those neighbors again.   Never in my life.   And to this day, it’s 52 years,
I have not returned.   And those who did return   heard exactly the words
I imagined they would say.   When was the first time
that you saw what you looked like?   I think it was a few months after.   When we already were given
some clothes   by Red Cross   and care packages that came in,
and we were given some clothes.   And we already had some fat.   And I was pleased.   Because I did not see myself
as a skeleton.   There were no mirrors.   Not even water to peek into.   Not even shiny dishes
to see a shadow.   I’m not sorry I didn’t see it.   But then in came the Swedes.   The Swedish people took
the sick people to Sweden to get healthy.   And I was fortunate enough
to get into a group.   I had two cousins, two of my cousins
who were in the hospital,   and they were taken to Sweden,   and with them, together,
three cousins.   With them, together,
I got to Sweden.   Sweden was
the most remarkable place,   where they really helped us
get well again.   They re-taught to us how to live,
and how to laugh again.   And then came, from Israel, volunteers,   who decided they have to come
and help gather the remnants   that were left after the war.   They came from kibbutzim when they
were very much needed themselves.   Their hands were needed
by the kibbutz to fight the Arabs.   We didn’t have a country yet.
We didn’t have anEretz Yisrael.  But they decided they have to come.   They re-taught us
whatever we had to know.   We had lost so many years
of schooling.   We had no knowledge.   With whatever means they could.   One was lecturing who she was telling
that she was not a teacher,   but she took the songs of Israel,   taught us how to sing
and interpret each word.   That’s how she taught us Hebrew.   With songs.   And gave us new hope.   They saw us being sad.   And they said,
“What do you mean being sad?   You have a purpose in life.   You have to come
and help us build a country.”   That’s exactly what I wanted to do.   New hope came into us   just by hearing them tell us
that there is hope for us.   Then, about three months
after I was in Sweden,   I discovered my relatives in America.   One cousin’s uncle found my uncle,
and they sent me a letter.   They were very happy,
and they want me to come.   And I said, “No.
I have to go to help build Palestine.”   Telegram came, “Come and visit
mother and us, and then you’ll continue.”   And that’s what I did.   I went to America
for a very short while.   But I had to wait two and a half years
for a visa.   Because the Americans
didn’t like us either too much.   The Rumanian quota
was very, very small.   And even after two and a half years,   I still did not get to the quota
to get to America.   So my uncle sent me papers
from the Beth Jacob,   in Williamsburg,
to come as a student.   So, 1947, in October,
I got to America   and met my uncles and my grandmother,
of course, whom I remembered,   because I was 11 years old
when she left.   Then my aunt who was liberated,
my grandmother’s youngest daughter,   she was liberated and she came
from France also to America.   And so it was a happy reunion.   But I still said,
“I must go to Palestine.”   My uncle’s neighbors came
the next day when I arrived.   They came to ask me,
“How do you like America?”   I said, “I didn’t come to like America.
I only came for a short visit.   And I’m going to Palestine.”   They said, “What?
You don’t like America?   The Golden Medina?
The golden land?   And you got permission to come here,
who doesn’t even like it?”   I very quickly discovered that I’m not
allowed to say I don’t like America.   Because then they don’t like me.   So I didn’t say anything anymore.   And then, in January,
I met my husband.   In January of what year?   1948.   He was discharged
from the American army,   where he was a soldier
for five and a half years.   He was the landlord’s son,
where my grandmother lived.   A neighbor told him
to come up and see me.   He came into see me,   and on our second date,
he proposed marriage,   and I said, “No, I can’t.   I’m going to Palestine.
I’m not staying in America.”   He said, “I’ll take you to Palestine.”   “Okay. He’s a nice guy,   he will understand me”
because he was a soldier.   Because before that, I said,
“I will never marry an American.   Those people will not understand us.   What we went through
is impossible to understand.   We’re–   They won’t know how to handle us,
what to do with us.”   But he was a soldier
for five and a half years.   He saw some of those camps.   He did fight in Germany.   He was with Patton’s Army,
with the Third Army.   So him I can trust.   And I agreed to marry him,
but the condition was   that our children
will be trained religious.   He comes from a religious family.
He had two brothers rabbis.   I agreed, because he promised
to take me to Palestine.   Well, after we were married in July.   We met in January,
and we were married in July.   And he says–
I said, “NuPalestine.”   He said, “I took you already.   I took you to thePalestinemovie
on Clinton Street.”   There was thePalestinemovie.   It was calledPalestine.  In fact, in that movie house,
we were when–   The partition of Israel
was the 29 of November.   We were in that movie house,   hearing that Israel is in.   And the Malavsky family
had prepared a song,“Eretz Yisrael.”  They sing it many times and it was–   So it was thePalestinemovie
that did it.   So that I had to stay in America.   That short visit turned out to be   25 years and 10 days.   But we made it.   In 1972, we came, on aliyah.   When were your children born?   In America,
all my four children were born.   In 1950, ’51, ’56.   What are their names?   Our oldest son is Harold,
and he lives in Riverdale.   In America.   Our second son is Garry,
who lives here, a few houses up.   Our third son is Michael.
He was born in 1956.   And he lives here.   And Avi is our youngest son,
who lives with us.   He was born in 1959.   Sobaruch Hashem.
We did make it.   That we got to Palestine.   And my husband, thank God, is happy.   Our children followed us.   Except the son who made us follow him.   He studied at the university here,
at Bar-Ilan.   He met his wife there.   He wanted to prove it to us.   He really means it
that we have to move here.   Then his career changed,
and he is still there.   With God’s help,
he, too, will join us one day.   Do you ever have dreams
about the war?   No. Seldom.   How did your experiences
during the war   influence the way
you raised your children?   Well, my children were lucky people.   They had one side of the family
that they had.   My husband’s family.   He’s one of ten children.   So they had a grandfather,
and they had uncles,   and aunts and cousins.   They also had some from my side.   So they weren’t   as sad as the situation
with many of my friends   who didn’t have any relatives left.   Influence? At a very young age,
I already started to talk to them.   Which means they were 10 and 11,
our older sons,   when I permitted them to watch
the Eichmann trials   that were going on in Israel.   I was criticized by many of our friends.   But I said, “You allow your children
to read horror comic books.   And here, my children
are learning their heritage.”   Okay. We’ll stop now for a few minutes.   …of an interview
with survivor Ruth Brand.   The place is Maale Adumim,
and the language is English.   Mrs. Brand,   how do you explain
that you stayed alive   when some many others died?   Simply. By havingemunah.  Having a strong desire to live and tell.   I had a strong constitution
which I inherited from my family.   Even though I started to eat,
I didn’t die after typhus.   Those of us who lost hope
becameMuselmann.  We called themMuselmann.  Like three days in advance,
their eyes changed.   They just stared, refused food,
and died.   My cousin in Bat Yam, a man,   told me that in his group–
They were three close friends.   Three of them kept together.   And one day,
one came and he said,   “I lost all hope. Finished.”   An hour later, he died.   That’s how strong that influence was.   He is sure that
that was what did it.   Do you have a message
for the world?   Be strong.   Do whatever little you can, but do.   That things like this
should never happen ever, ever again.   And to the Jewish people, of course,
thank God,baruch Hashem.  We have our country.   When I was invited once
to our synagogue here   to speak one Yom HaShoah,   suddenly I realized
that I have an audience of children   who came with their parents because it
was a Motzei Shabbat in the evening.   The children were there, too,
and I thought to myself,   “It’s a little bit too harsh
for these youngsters.”   So I said,
“Well, this cannot happen to us again.   It happened to us
because we didn’t have a country.   But,baruch Hashem,thank God,   at this time we have a country
and an army.   And even these young children
who’ll grow up,   and be in the army and protect us,
so it can never happen again.   It happened because
we did not haveEretz Yisrael.”  The next day,
my six-year-old grandson, Matti,   says to his father,   “You know,Saftasaid
we didn’t haveEretz Yisrael.  That meansSaftalived
before Avraham Avinu.”   That’s how old I am to Matti,
at age six.   And then he came home–
The year before, that was.   He was in kindergarten.   He comes home from school
before Pesach.   He said,“Safta, Safta!
Now I know. You were a slave in Egypt.”   The had learned what peril in Egypt
that the Jewish people had been.   “You were a slave in Egypt.”   So to Matti, I’m quite old.   Okay, thank you very much.   You have to listen
to one little more story.   Sorry. With this one,
I end each speaking engagement.   And also to my grandsons’ bar mitzvah.   I repeat myself.   My profession is bridal gowns.   I make bridal gowns
to make brides happy.   Several years ago,
when I finished a gown–   That was my business in the States,
but I continue here too.   Here it’s mostly mitzvah gowns.   The mother of the bride says to me,   “How come you chose
a profession like sewing?   I see you have great pleasure
in doing your job.   You do the most beautiful,
magnificent, artistic job.   How come you chose this profession?”   I said to her, “You know,
I wasn’t allowed to go to school.   So I went to learn a trade,
a profession.”   She says, “In America?”   I said, “No, I’m not from America.   I wasn’t born in America.   I was born in Europe.
I came to America after the war.”   She says, “After the war?
You mean you are a survivor?”   I said, “Yes.”   She said, “I don’t believe you.”   I said,
“Would you like to see my number?”   She says, “No, but I just don’t believe it.
You don’t look it.”   I said, “Really?
What am I supposed to look like?   Today I find out for the first time
I’m supposed to have some special look.   What am I supposed to look like?”   She said, “You are not sad.”   I said, “You are right.   You see, in 1944,
the Germans wanted to kill me.   They let me live a little bit longer,
so I can work and die naturally,   according to their standards,   but my family was killed.   A third of my people was killed.   And I’m here, I’m still here today.   I’m still alive.   And you know?   After the war, I had enough courage   to establish a family.   Many of us didn’t want to.   They said, ‘Into this world?
To bring children into this world?’   They didn’t have the courage to do it,
but I did.   And,baruch Hashem,
I have four sons and 11 grandchildren,   and I’m alive,
and I’m living in my own country.   So why should I be sad?   You see, every morning
when I open my eyes, I say,   ‘Here is another day.’   And to me each day is a gift.   A new gift.   And with that gift I do as I please.   And it pleases me to be happy   and not be sad.   And that is my revenge.   My revenge on all the people
who wanted to destroy us,   destroyed a third of my people,
destroyed my immediate family.   But I’m Israelchai.  And I will not be sad.”   This is another of my messages.   And the real, real revenge   came when, two years ago,
I did agree finally to go to Auschwitz   with 100 Torah boys.   Because at this time,
I wasn’t taken there as a slave.   This time, I marched into the gate
that saysArbeit macht frei.  And at that gate, we stopped,
and I said theberakhah.  “In this place, a miracle happened
to me. I remained alive.”   And many of the boys came over
and said the sameberakhah.  “In this place, my grandfather,
or my grandmother,   had anesshappen to them,
a miracle, that they remained alive.”   We came there with a Sefer Torah.   We came there with our own flag.   This to me was the greatest revenge.   When we stood
at the same crematorium   where I had to dig the ashes
on Yom Kippur Day in 1944,   we all lit candles,   and we did say Kaddish,   and I mentioned all the names
that I could remember   of relatives, of uncles
and aunts and cousins,   who went up to heaven
from that place.   It was another one
of the revenge stories.   And I am probably going back
this Pesach again   because they want me to go this time
with 200 boys and 200 girls   to have more revenge.   Because this rabbi who went with us,
who organized the group,   told me that when these
young people came back,   they were changed people.   I said, “No.”   He says, “Yes.
We had other people go,   but what you are doing,
you don’t know your strength.   You don’t know what influence
you had on these people.”   Many of them turned.
They are at crossroads.   They are 18-, 19-year-olds
who come to study in Israel for a year.   And they are at the crossroads.
To go to stay religious, to choose–   And he says, “What you are doing
for them is unbelievable.”   Even though it was difficult,
and at the beginning I didn’t want to go,   but I was glad when I went.   And when Ephraim Kaye asked me   how did I feel
to go back to Auschwitz,   I said, “I never left it.”   And I was surprised of my answer.   Because I never realized that
that’s how I felt, but that’s the truth.   When we make a wedding or asimcha,
these people are missing for us.   We don’t go to be very happy
because they are missing.   So, of course, I remember Auschwitz.   I go to a doctor and he’s asking me,   “In your family, was there cancer?”
“I don’t know.”   “In your family, was there diabetes?”
“I don’t know.”   Then I have to explain,
“You know, at a very young age,   they were murdered in Auschwitz.   So I don’t know what family
sicknesses we had or anything else.”   So with us, it’s every day.
It’s every minute of the time.   Okay, thank you very much.   Okay.   These are my parents
at their engagement in 1927.   And the pictures I found
at my uncles’, in America.   They had the pictures.   And your parents’ names?   My father’s name was Mordechai,
and my mother’s name was Gitza.   We’re all set. Just go ahead.   This picture is of my parents.   His name was Mordechai Szabo,   and my mother, Gitza Szabo.   And in the bottom, I am the oldest.   And my sister and brother.   Their names?   My name was Rifka, now is Ruth.   My sister’s name was Sara.   Fishel was my brother’s name.   Okay.   This picture was taken approximately   in 1922.   I have there my grandfather,
who was Avraham Szabo,   and my grandmother’s name is Liya.   Top left are my Uncle Louie
and his wife, Jean.   Lower there to the left,   is my father’s sister, Rachel,   and her husband, Diankov Chaim.   They had six children.   Nobody was chosen to remain alive.   They all went up to heaven.   Next to them is my Aunt Esther.   And my father’s oldest brother, Fabish.   He is there holding their oldest child,   whose name was Huna.   Bottom, next to them.   They had eight children.
Three remained alive.   Bottom is my father’s sister, Surah Hana,
who had three children.   And nobody was left of them.   In fact, the baby was stolen
out of her hands and murdered.   Bottom, next to her is my Aunt Heddie.   And she is held by her mother.   She is the youngest daughter
of my grandmother,   who had her at age 47,
something like that.   And then, next to her
is my Uncle Leon,   who lived in America.   And on top right
is my father Mordechai.   Again, this picture I found
at my uncles’ in America.   So I was fortunate
to have them over there.   This is my husband, Joe.   Then we have, let’s see.   Our youngest son, Avi,
who lives with us.   We have our friend Hannah,
who is from Florida.   She lives with us.   Our son Garry,
who’s our number two son in the family.   And the daughter, Alisa.   And the son, Eliezer,
who is a soldier.   I’m sorry you didn’t come in uniform.   I love my grandson soldier.   And this is their mother,
my daughter-in-law, Irene.   And we have one other son
who lives in the neighborhood   with five children,
four boys and a little girl.   And they came a few times,
but they missed us.   They got tired.   Avremi is their oldest son,
who is not home at present.   And our oldest son
is living in America.   His name is Harold,   and he has two daughters
and one son.   And last year I had the great honor,
exactly a year ago–   Is it the anniversary?   That I went
to my granddaughter’s wedding.   I went a month earlier
and sewed her bridal gown.   And that was greatnachas.  So,im yirtzeh Hashem,  when they’ll join us in Israel,   all thenachaswill be fulfilled.   And we hope for a good future
and shalom in Israel,   which is so important.    

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10 thoughts on “Holocaust Survivor Ruth Brand Testimony

  1. The comments of the previous poster are pretty insulting. I've seen the same comment posted under the testimonies of other survivors as well.
    As a non-Jew, non-Christian, I don't understand how we can't as human beings come to a greater understanding and acceptance of all of our differences especially in light of the tragedy of WW2. Because of the actions of Hitler, we are still feeling the repercussions today; however, we now have the means, through these videos, to never forget.

  2. She seems like a very caring woman but something struck me hard in the beginning of her testimony.  She constantly refers to the other villagers as "real peasants", people who depended on the Jews for everything, how peasants didn't want education but how education was naturally in the Jewish blood and other things like that. 

    I know she is from a different time and doesn't see it that way but it is heavy racism. People are entitled to their own beliefs but believing so firmly that you are racially superior to anyone is not a good moral compass to have.  It would take an incredible human spirit for the "peasants" to put their family's lives on the line to save even one person who thought so little of you before they needed help, which she admits many of her "peasants" offered to do.  That she believes the girls preferred to stay with their families doesn't diminish the heroism and sincere deep moral depth of the offer.

  3. Great testimony but this woman shouldn't interview anyone anymore her voice is beyond dull and devoid of any life…what a shame.

  4. I'm sorry she feels that way about Christians and I'm sorry if Christians treated her in that way. it's so wrong when they use the crucifixtion as an excuse to mistreat the Jews. God loves us all and the Jews are still His chosen people. I would like to say that many priests and religious had put their lives in danger to protect many people and a few now canonized Saints were made during that time as well.

  5. …where was god…???…any god…?…this all was done because of religion….all believe systems are nonsense!

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