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It’s Time For A Holocaust #MeToo Reckoning

Marisa Fox-Bevilacqua


February 5, 2018


Over the past few months, more and more women have been opening up about horrible stories of sexual harassment, assault and abuse. The #MeToo movement is a long overdue corrective to our culture. And yet the stories of one group of women have yet to crest into the mainstream and get the recognition they deserve: Holocaust survivors.

Holocaust museums, educational institutions and film archives are full of robust programs. But the stories of survivors who experienced sexual abuse are treated as taboo, or of secondary importance. They are never part of a museum’s permanent exhibition. And yet, we are becoming increasingly aware that sexual violence, whether through experiments, terror, coercion, rape or routine practices meant to humiliate and defile, was rampant during the Holocaust.

The reasons these stories remain hidden are complex. But one can’t ignore the simple fact that few women survivors have shared them.

My own mother denied being a Holocaust survivor. Her identity was forged through her experiences as a “freedom fighter” in the Israeli underground and army. Those were the stories she told me, the stories she was proud of.

And it’s no small wonder. What would she have gained by telling me that she and 5,000 other mainly teenage Jewish girls from Upper Silesia were trafficked as Nazi slaves to a remote town in Sudetenland, where they were imprisoned for more than four years?


Nearly eight years ago, after an elderly relative accidentally told me my mother had been a love child, I traveled to Poland to see if I could uncover her birth records and get to the bottom of her true identity.

The records revealed the name Alta Hendla (or Hela) Hocherman, which was nothing like Tamar Fromer, the name my mother went by.

With help from genealogists at JRI-Poland and the International Tracing Service of the Red Cross at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, I learned that my mother had been a prisoner of one of the Nazis’ women’s slave labor camps called Gabersdorf in Sudetenland.

They also led me to a hidden camp diary, found by a survivor’s daughter and subsequently donated to Yad Vashem. Seeing the page my mother had written nearly 70 years prior shook me to my core. I realized how little I knew about her past, and I had to come to grips with the fact that my mother felt obliged to shoulder all that pain, trauma and shame on her own.

Though I held her hand as she passed, she died alone.

This tragic reality compelled me to mine the depths of all she had tried to suppress. And that’s when I learned that my mother’s secret was far from unique. Her camp was part of a vast, underground network of some 200 camps, where girls as young as 12 were exploited to fuel the Wehrmacht and “the whims of our oppressor,” as my mother cryptically wrote in a hidden camp diary that bears witness to the abuses they endured.


Over the past few years, mounting evidence has emerged that Jewish women were abused in far more ways than previously thought. During the Holocaust, sexual violence was routine. Despite Nazi race laws forbidding relations with Jews, sexual violence was woven into the fabric of their atrocities.

Recently declassified files found at United Nations War Crimes Commission Archives attest that rape and sexual violence — including forced prostitution, sterilization, nudity and corporal shaming — were so commonplace that there were postwar sex-crime tribunals set up to prosecute perpetrators.

But as the Nuremberg Trials lawyers honed in on their cases, rape was deemed secondary in importance. Subsequently, its perpetrators were never indicted; the victims were left to fend for themselves. Their traumas went undiagnosed in a world that didn’t classify sex crimes as war crimes until the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda in 1994.

To this day, who has heard of these camps, these women, their stories? Women’s experiences remain mere footnotes in Holocaust history, add-ons at memorials that never validate what women experienced.

It’s time for the Holocaust to have its #MeToo moment.


The first time Elizabeth Anthony, the International Tracing Service and Partnerships Program Manager at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, decided to research sexual violence during the Holocaust, she input the German word for brothel, Bordell, into their database. She got 92 matches.

“It wasn’t just Auschwitz that had one,” she told me. “There were sex slaves also in Dachau, Mauthausen and Buchenwald, to name a few; in something like 10 camps altogether.”

The records of the Nazis’ sex slaves contain only Polish and German non-Jewish names. “It was totally against Nazi ideology and policy for a non-Jew to have sex with a Jew, so they wouldn’t have documented if a Jewish woman or a Roma woman, too, slipped into the ‘brothel’ ranks,” Anthony said.

According to personal testimony, one can surmise a few Jewish women were “slipped in.” But the proof is elusive. Nevertheless, the files show the Nazis were meticulous about recording whether their sex slaves had venereal disease and even the medical treatments they received.

“It was a sobering discovery,” Anthony said. “I can understand why this sort of information was concealed from families after the war. But without naming anyone, shouldn’t we try to get the truth out there?”

Telling these stories has been my mission for the past seven years. I’ve interviewed dozens of women survivors, trying to understand what they went through, and why my own mother denied being a Holocaust survivor.

Throughout the interviews I’ve conducted, what always astounds me is how sexual violence was incorporated in almost every aspect of a woman or girl’s experience during the Shoah.

Perhaps most shocking was learning that it didn’t end when the war ended. Sexual violence against survivors persisted after the liberation, and often at the hands of supposed allies and rescuers.

One survivor of the women’s camp Ober-Alstadt told me that the Russians who liberated their camp raped survivors with such abandon that she and her roommates put up a sign that read “typhus” on their door to keep the Russians at bay. It worked.

Another woman from my mother’s camp, Gabersdorf, told me the Russians were driving a truckload of recently freed inmates to a nearby village when suddenly the car stopped. The girls saw they were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees.

“We looked at each other, realizing what the Russians had in mind,” she said. “I yelled, ‘Run!’ We all jumped off and scattered through the forest.”

What happened next?

She stopped the story cold.

But it’s not all so cut and dry. There are the gray zones, stories of women who were coerced into sex and had complex narratives to share. Fanya Gottsefeld Heller, who died last November, had such a story.

“She couldn’t tell her story until her husband had died,” said Atina Grossmann, professor of history at The Cooper Union, a historian of gender, sexuality, the Holocaust and its aftermath. “Her memoir detailed her relationship with a Ukrainian peasant, who she was pushed to have sex with by her father in order to rescue the family.”

Fania describes it all very tenderly, however shocking it seemed at first. “So we have to be careful to allow all the gray zones in, the sex, money, power, ‘good looks’” — the ability to pass as a non-Jew — “as a currency for survival, the whole gamut of sexuality that got expressed during the Holocaust,” Grossman said. “There were the stories of extreme terror and brutality, but also relationships that were genuinely affectionate, for example with rescuers, albeit within a terrifyingly coercive context that may have started out as a forced situation.”


Thanks in large part to feminist academic scholarship, more of these stories are emerging. Last December, Anna Hájková, professor of history at the University of Warwick, England, hosted a conference in Berlin titled “Sexuality, Holocaust, Stigma: Taking Stock,” as well as a dramatic presentation at the Gorki Theater, which she says was a sold-out event.

There are also a growing number of exhibitions in Buchenwald, Mauthausen and Ravensbrück, and new panels, exhibits and pamphlets at the USHMM and at smaller, regional museums like the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County. An upcoming art exhibit at the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York, curated by the Remember the Women Institute, highlights rape as a part of genocide from the Shoah until today.

Still, sexual violence in the Holocaust has yet to enter the mainstream conversation.

Perhaps some of the fault lies in the way Holocaust history is recorded, a way that is still largely shaped by men. A few years ago, while researching at Auschwitz, I asked its research director why their tours never mention Block 24, the infamous brothel immortalized in the novella “House of Dolls”, by Ka-tzetnik 135633.

“Another journalist fishing for a sexy angle?” He said with a smirk.

But sexism aside, some of the ommission of these stories has to do with the survivors themselves. Testimonies were often taken in front of family members, prompting survivors to censor themselves; who wants to admit in front of children and grandchildren to being raped, or forced into prostitution? It’s why the 1,700 references to sexual assault included in the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation’s 52,000 testimonies are believed to be grossly under-representative.

The USHMM’s Anthony, who first worked as a social worker with survivors before moving to the Red Cross ITS department, recalls how guarded many of the women were when giving testimony.

“Sometimes when I would drive the women home after speaking to a school or community group, they would reveal things in the car, then say, ‘I could never share that in public’ or ‘I would never tell that to my family.’”

More and more, we are realizing just how much self-censoring has gone on. One woman told me a story that happened to her after liberation, on a train to a displaced person’s camp. She was held down by a man who was forcing himself on her. “I screamed,” she said. “Someone helped me.”

Other women have shared similar narratives: They’re about to be raped when, out of nowhere, a brother appears, or someone comes to the rescue.

Almost none will say they were personally raped. It’s always someone else they’ve witnessed.

Northeastern University journalism professor Laurel Leff also recently learned that a relative who had survived the Holocaust had altered her story. The author of “Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper,” Leff learned from archival records that her cousin, who had always maintained that she had been liberated from Bergen-Belsen, had actually been liberated from Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s camp in Germany.

Leff was confused by her cousin’s choice to misrepresent her time during the war. And then she found out why she had done it.

“I learned that all the women at her sub-camp were raped by their Russian liberators, if you want to call them liberators,” Leff recently said at a U.N. Holocaust Remembrance event at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, her voice cracking.

The experience had lasting damage. “My cousin Vilma Heda Kaufmann never could have kids,” Leff told me. “I suspect the sexual violence she experienced had something to do with it.”

It broke Leff’s heart, not only because of what her cousin had suffered, but also because she had suffered it alone. They are feelings I know all too well.

“Why couldn’t she tell us?” Leff now wondered. “Why is sexual violence still treated differently than any other abuse Jews suffered during the Holocaust?”

And yet, it is, especially by the survivors themselves. Last week I interviewed a survivor who had never before given testimony. When I asked her why, she told me something I’ve often heard doing these interviews.

“I didn’t have it so bad,” she said. “We were good girls.”

I explained to her being raped or forced into sex work didn’t make her a “bad girl.” But she wouldn’t budge.

“That didn’t happen to us,” she insisted. “I told you, we were good girls. Nazi propaganda depicted us as whores. Why would I discuss anything that would give credence to that?”

Couple that with the shame women survivors experienced after the war in the United States and Israel, where many were routinely asked if they survived the Holocaust by being “a Nazi whore,” and you begin to understand why women steered clear of this Pandora’s box.

“You don’t understand how we were looked down on,” a neighbor, a Ravensbrück survivor, once told me. “We were considered damaged goods — by our fellow Jews.”

Another survivor I met with last week was one of the first I ever interviewed who was forthcoming about the sexual barter she witnessed taking place in the latrines of her camp. She told me a story she had repressed all these decades.

She recalled a British POW offering her a cookie if he could pet her hair.

Starving and all of about 12 years old, she agreed.

“I can still remember what the cookie looked like,” she said. “It had an angel on it.”

And what about the rest of the experience?

“It was over with fast,” she said. “It was fine.”

Later on, her daughter and I talked at length about her story. Had he otouched only her hair? Or was that how she remembered it for her own self-preservation? We’ll never know.


As a second-generation Holocaust survivor who never knew I was one because my mother had never admitted it, I think about the question of agency a lot, especially in terms of how you tell your story. I think a lot about how vital it was for my mother, at least in the Shoah’s aftermath, to construct her own narrative as one that cast her as a victor, not a victim. It was essential for her self-preservation.

I would never want to take that away from her, or force a woman to tell a story that undermines her self-preservation. But discovering my mother’s true past makes me admire her all the more for having triumphed over Nazi oppression to build a Jewish homeland, which must have seemed an unattainable dream when she signed her name in Hebrew in that hidden camp diary.

I can’t say with certainty she would have wanted to open up about the sexual trauma she endured. And yet, I feel it’s crucial that we come to terms with this horrific aspect of the Holocaust, and that we open up spaces for women who want to tell these stories, including us, their daughters and granddaughters, prompting some long-overdue intergenerational healing.

If we can’t air these stories now, when we’re blessed to have Shoah survivors still in our midst, when victims of sexual harassment and abuse are finally being believed and freed from the age-old stigma women like my mother encountered, then when?

These are the last years to relieve these women of the burden they’ve been carrying alone. It’s time.

Marisa Fox-Bevilacqua is a New York-based journalist who is writing and directing her first documentary, “By a Thread,” about her search for her mother’s hidden Holocaust past. Follow her on Twitter, @byathreadfilm



February 12, 2018


Why Renia Spiegal is being called “The Polish Anne Frank”

By Alex Ulam

Courtesy of Tomasz Magierski


“Listen! Listen to me and understand. Some kind of fever took over the city. The vision of the ghetto, already forgotten by everybody, has returned. And it is even more dreadful than before, because it knocks on the doors of petrified hearts and it is ruthless, it doesn’t want to go away.”

In May 1942, 18-year-old Renia Spiegel was describing her terror of a ghetto the Nazis were establishing in Przemyśl, a city in southeastern Poland where 17,600 Jews were murdered. Spiegel’s nearly 700-page diary, recently published in Polish, also recounts her kissing her first love only hours before the Germans invaded.

Spiegel and the parents of her boyfriend Zygmunt Schwarzer were shot in the street by the Nazis in July 1942 after they were discovered hiding in an attic outside the ghetto. Zygmunt added an entry to Renia’s diary on July 31st, 1942 about their killing: “Three shots! Three lives lost! It happened last night at 10:30 pm. Fate has decided to take my dearest ones away from me.”

Zygmunt survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. After the war, he studied medicine at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and upon graduating moved to the United States where he became a pediatrician. In the 1950s, a friend visiting New York from Przemyśl gave him Renia’s diary, which was made of seven school books sewn together. Zygmunt brought the diary back to New York and gave it to Renia’s mother Róża Maria Leszczyńska.

Renia’s diary describes life in wartime Przemyśl, which was divided between the Soviets and the Nazis at the San River, which runs through the city. Before 1941, when the Nazis launched Operation Barbarosa and invaded the Russian section of Przemyśl, most of the Jews lived on the Soviet occupied eastern side of the city.

When the ghetto was established in July 1942, Renia and her sister Ariana were forced to move there with their grandparents. However, after several weeks in the ghetto, Zygmunt, who had a work pass, was able to spirit both sisters out. He moved Renia to the house of his uncle Samuel Goliger, who, because of his status at a Judenrat official, was allowed to live outside the ghetto.

Several days later, the SS marched on the ghetto intending to launch their first major liquidation of the Jews. However, the Wehrmacht under the command of an officer named Albert Battel, who was posthumously recognized as Righteous Among Nations by the state of Israel, threatened to open fire on the SS troops unless they withdrew. This standoff bought time for Battel to shelter a large number of Jews from deportation in army barracks.

Zygmunt hid Renia with his parents in a garret in the town while Ariana was taken to Warsaw by a Polish gentile named Ludomir Leszczynski and reunited with her mother who was passing as a Pole and working in a hotel crawling with Wermacht officers.

In Przemyśl, however, Renia’s hiding place was exposed by an informer, and the Nazis executed her and Zygmunt’s parents in the street, only a day after Ariana had escaped from the Ghetto. 

 “She was grieving all of the time about my sister,” Ariana Elzbieta Bellak says of her mother.

Bellak, who is 87 and is currently in possession of the diary, was a child film star called Arianka in interwar Poland and was referred to as the Polish Shirley Temple. In 1938, she appeared in two Polish films “Gehenna,” directed by Michał Waszynski and “Granica,” directed by Jóżef Lejtes.

Bellak still retains her star power. She is a petite woman with a booming voice and intense blue eyes heavily lined with mascara. She was dressed in a white lace fringed blouse with elegant gold earrings on the sunny October afternoon when I visited her. Her apartment in Manhattan’s Flatiron District where she has lived for thirty-six years is decorated with photographs of relatives from prewar era in Poland, including a large sepia-toned blowup of her sister as a beaming teenager with her hair tied back in a bun.

As a child, Bellak says, she was not even aware of her sister’s diary’s existence. “Renia wrote, ‘I want a friend that keeps my secrets and nobody is supposed to know,’” Bellak told me.

For decades, Ariana kept Renia’s diary to herself, but at the urging of her daughter Alexandra, she showed it to Tomasz Magierski, a Polish- American documentary filmmaker. Bellak met Magierski several years ago at the Polish Consulate General in New York, where he was screening “Blinky & Me,” a documentary he made about a Polish born Australian animator Yoram Gross who survived the Holocaust. Magierski, who lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, said during an interview that he endured several sleepless nights before finishing the diary. Since then he has been on a mission to rescue its author from obscurity.

Magierski has engaged in all manner of activities to call attention to Renia’s life. With Bellak and her daughter, he started the Renia Spiegel Foundation to preserve and promote the teenage writer’s legacy. He is also working to get a former synagogue in Przemyśl, turned into a museum dedicated to Spiegel’s life. Through the Spiegel foundation he has published the diary in Polish and is getting it translated into English. In addition, the foundation has organized an academic conference about the diary at the Museum of Polish Jews in Warsaw.

Magierski also has circulated Renia’s diary among scholars such as Anna Frajlich-Zajac, senior lecturer emerita in Slavic Language at Columbia University, who wrote of it, “This powerful diary is not only a primary historical source of the Holocaust, but also a true and outstanding work of literature.”

Currently, Magierski says he is making what he terms a “creative documentary” based upon Renia’s life. “I want to show what she would be like if she survived,” he said one evening over a glass of wine at his roof top terrace on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He showed scenes from the film, which feature historical footage of Przemyśl and actresses in contemporary garb reciting Renia’s poetry as the camera pans around the verdant rural landscape near Przemyśl.

For the film, Magierski has sleuthed throughout Poland for physical traces of the Spiegel sisters’ lives. One such object is a hand-painted cardboard box that he said most likely originally enclosed the diary, which he obtained in Przemyśl from a childhood friend of Ariana’s.

“She could have become a great writer,” Magierski said. “She did not have this chance because she was killed.”

Reading Spiegel’s diary entries, it’s clear that she wanted people to know what happened to her. “Remember this day; remember it well, you will tell generations to come about it one day,” she wrote in one of her last entries on July 15th, 1942, “Today at 8 o’clock we have been shut away in the ghetto. I live here now; the world is separated from me and I’m separated from the world.”

Alex Ulam is a New York-based journalist.



Auschwitz Escape - The Klara Wizel Story 

by Danny Naten (Author), R.J. Gifford (Contributor)

DEC 30, 2015 

Survivor: Klara Wizel




“Seven, eight, four, five. Write that down,” Dr. Josef Mengele instructed a nearby guard as a naked and painfully thin Klara Wizel — then Iutkovits — stood before the Auschwitz doctor in yet another selection, her drab, gray dress draped over her right arm, her tattooed left arm outstretched. The 17-year-old was immediately whisked away, past her two older sisters who were lined up behind her, and taken to a bathhouse holding 60 or 70 girls destined for the gas chamber. Klara’s sisters Roshie and Hedy soon appeared at the building’s barred window, crying and screaming, “Klara, don’t be afraid. You’re going to be OK.” But Klara sat stone-like, wanting to die. 

“I figured if I’m alive, I’m going to suffer more,” she recalled. But she couldn’t get out the words to tell her sisters, whose screams soon faded as German guards struck them with whips, sending them away. It was December 1944.

Klara was born on Jan. 15, 1927, in Sighet, Transylvania, in northwestern Romania. She was the ninth of Ignatiu and Frida Iutkovits’ 10 children. 

Frida, along with Klara’s oldest brother, Joseph, ran the family business, a wholesale/retail operation that sold dried fruits, cooking oil, flour and nuts. The entire family assisted, although Ignatiu, a Torah scholar and, according to Klara, kindhearted man, mostly studied. 

The business afforded the Modern Orthodox family a luxurious lifestyle, including a five-bedroom house two doors down from Elie Wiesel, who was a childhood friend. “We were a very, very happy family,” Klara said. 

Klara attended public school but learned to read and write Hebrew with a tutor her parents hired. When not in school or spending time with her family, Klara enjoyed bike riding, ice skating, reading and, most of all, going to the movies. 

Life started to change in August 1940, when Germany transferred Northern Transylvania to Hungary as part of the Second Vienna Award. More than 10,000 Jews lived in Sighet at that time, about 39 percent of the population. 

Klara’s father was forced to cut his beard to avoid being physically harmed. And by 1941, Klara was forced to leave school.

Sometime in 1942, a Hungarian judge revoked the family’s franchise to supply the province of Maramures with cooking oil. Soon after, the entire business was confiscated. “Mother was heartbroken. The business was in her blood,” Klara said. 

Meanwhile, Klara’s brother Lazar escaped to Russia, while her brothers Joseph and Haskell were drafted into slave labor. 

Then, on March 19, 1944, the Germans marched into Hungary. “When they came in, everything was going very bad,” Klara said. 

On April 20, Sighet’s Jews, along with Jews from neighboring towns, were forced into a ghetto. Three families moved into the Iutkovits’ house, which was inside the ghetto boundaries, but less than a month later, they were told to pack some clothes and food for resettlement.  

Klara, her parents and five of her siblings were all on the first transport, which departed on May 16. They were crammed 70 people to a car, with no water or toilets. “It was very frightening,” Klara recalled. 

On the third night, the doors slammed open at Birkenau, and the prisoners were ordered to line up in rows of five — men and women separately — where they were surrounded by soldiers with guns and dogs. Klara stood with her mother and sisters Hedy, Roshie and Ancy. Mengele soon approached them. “You look alike. You’re sisters, aren’t you?” he asked. “Yes,” one of them answered. He sent Frida and Ancy to a waiting bus and dispatched the other three to a different line. “You’ll see each other tomorrow,” he assured them. 

Klara, Roshie and Hedy were processed, given gray dresses and taken to a barracks.

The next day, Klara asked the block leader when she would see her parents. The kapo pointed to the chimney. “See that fire there? That’s where your parents are,” she said. Klara thought she was crazy, but soon learned the truth. “We were falling apart, crying, screaming,” she said. 

Klara was taken to work in a field of cut wheat, where she was ordered to gather the grain into 5-pound bundles and knot them. On the first day, a guard noticed her knot wasn’t done correctly. “Versagerin,” he yelled, “failure,” and he began hitting her with a club as guards with dogs circled them. “It was so horrible and frightening,” Klara said.

Next, she was transferred to a textile factory, where she braided strips of leather. She was treated less poorly, though she continued to lose weight.

By December 1944, the gas chambers and crematoria were working day and night. Klara and the other girls selected by Mengele were moved from the bathhouse to a small brick building to wait their turn. The girls eventually cried themselves to sleep, but Klara, who was prepared to die, remained awake. She was worried about her sisters and began to look for an escape. Noticing that the building was constructed of adobe bricks, she pushed on a few to see if any were loose. Then she noticed a chiseled area under a window. She pulled at a brick until she pried it out and chipped away at others. Soon, she created a narrow passageway and slid her body outside.

Klara made her way to a block that housed prisoners being relocated. Finding an open window, she climbed inside and discovered a group of girls showering. She removed her dress and joined them. Afterward, she and each of the other girls were given a dress, a piece of salami and a loaf of bread. 

In the morning, the girls, all more robust-looking than Klara, were loaded into cattle cars. “What is this muselmann [a survivor on the verge of death] doing here?” Klara heard one girl ask. She didn’t answer. She was sick and couldn’t eat. Later, she managed to trade her bread and salami for some sugar, which she savored. 

Three days and nights later, they arrived at the Weisswasser concentration camp, a private munitions factory in Czechoslovakia. When they’d disembarked and were waiting to be counted, Klara fainted, awakening in the infirmary where a Jewish female doctor took a liking to her. Six weeks later, she was cured. “The doctor gave me life,” Klara said.

At the doctor’s request, Klara was given a good job, burning the rubber tips off pieces of wire. She was also well fed and slept in a single bunk bed with a pillow and blanket. 

But one day in early May 1945, as the girls stood at roll call, no guards appeared. Finally, the block leader went to the Germans’ office. “I guess we are free. Nobody’s here,” she reported. 

“I couldn’t believe it. Am I free?” Klara recalled thinking. “I was turning around. Nobody’s following us.” 

Klara made her way to Sighet, where she went to Wiesel’s house, which had become a gathering place for returning survivors. When Baya, Elie’s sister, came back several months later, Klara learned that her own sisters Roshie and Hedy were alive. They made plans to seek her sisters out. 

In Prague, Klara went to the train station daily in hopes of intercepting Roshie and Hedy. But the one day Klara skipped was the day they passed through Prague. Later, however, the sisters learned that Klara had survived and wrote to her. 

Klara traveled to Cluj, where her sisters were visiting a cousin. “It was an unbelievable happiness. We were crying and screaming,” she said. A month later, they returned to Sighet.

Meanwhile, Klara had been given a letter in Satu Mare to deliver to Ezra Wizel, a second cousin of Elie Wiesel, for Ezra’s brother. She tracked Ezra down and they began dating, marrying on Dec. 10, 1947.

Klara and Ezra remained in Sighet but wanted to escape the communist regime. Finally, in early 1951, they were able to immigrate to Israel, then to Montreal later that year. Their daughter Fraya was born in November 1954, and daughter Judy in October 1956. In 1967, the family relocated to Los Angeles to be near Roshie.

While in California, Klara learned that her brother Lazar had survived the war and was living in Russia. She and her sisters helped him immigrate to Canada, where Hedy lived.

Klara, now 88, has four grandchildren. She continues to work in real estate investments. 

A documentary about her life, “Auschwitz Escape – The Klara Wizel Story,” created by Danny Naten, was released in 2009, and a biography, “Auschwitz Escape – The Klara Wizel Story,” was published in 2014.  

Klara credits Roshie and Hedy with her survival. 

“I think God wanted me to live, but, believe me, I didn’t want to live. But I felt bad for my sisters, because they were crying for me. I’m alive because of them,” she said.


Auschwitz Escape – The Klara Wizel Story


Auschwitz Escape – The Klara Wizel Story

Kindle Edition

by Danny Naten (Author), R. Gifford (Author)


At the tender age of 16, Klara Wizel had a picturesque life with a loving and supportive family. There was no way to know that the Holocaust was creeping toward her and that soon this young Hungarian Jew would be fighting for her life due to the most notorious doctor of the 20th century, Dr. Josef Mengele.
Swept up in a week long deportation process along with fifteen thousand other Hungarian Jews, Klara and her family arrive on cold night at the infamous Auschwitz – Birkenau concentration camp after a three day journey with no food or water. There, she and her family would first meet Josef Mengele who would later become known as the Great Selector.
That night Mengele selected Klara’s mother Freda, father Ignatiu, her older sister Ancy and younger brother Mortho to die in the gas chamber sending the adolescent Klara and two of her sisters Hedy and Rose to be housed like animals in the women’s barracks of Auschwitz. Dr. Mengele, who was in charge of the women’s barracks, would become the chief provider for the gas chambers and order gruesome experiments on children that often maimed or killed his Jewish subjects. Like a blood hound, Mengele, also known as the Murderer in White, searched out those who were too old or too sick to survive his cruel science and those who served no purpose to the Nazi regime. As Klara would later say, “Day or night you never knew when he would show, the ovens were always burning around the clock.”
As the Russian front approaches, Mengele and the Nazi’s selection process speed up. Klara finds herself sick, weak, tired and not able to eat. Naked, she is brought before Mengele, a tall Rock Hudson-handsome man who ideally would have been asking for her hand instead of deciding her fate. Klara was wowed by his presence and hardly realized that Mengele had deemed her unfit and sentenced her to die the gas chamber. As Klara is taken away with approximately seventy other women, her sisters Hedy and Rose scream and cry as she is dragged off, for they know this is her death.
Yet, somehow sick and dying on a snowy night, now 17 year old Klara Wizel not only escaped the gas chamber, but she also smuggles herself out of Auschwitz. She’s the only Holocaust survivor of record to ever escape Dr. Josef Mengele’s selection process. Her escape and journey through war torn Europe to get back home to her small home town of Sighet is one of the most inspiring stories of that time.
Now 86 years old and thriving in Los Angeles, Klara is a grandmother and lives a comfortable life. She is a member of the 39 Club and is dedicated to helping survivors of the Holocaust and their families. Her story is one of survival against the greatest odds and a perpetual love for life despite extreme loss and cruelty.

From: http://www.biographicalinquiries2.com/auschwitz-escape-the-klara-wizel-story

I only wanted to live   --- See http://arlindo-correia.com/161218.html



From Amazon.com:


Arie Tamir, nicknamed Leosz, was born in Poland to a well-to-do family. World War II breaks out when he is all of seven years old, and for the next six years he undergoes all the levels of hell that the Holocaust brought upon the Jewish people.

The family first attempts to escape to eastern Poland. They reach in turn two cities - Lvov and Lublin which are heavily bombed. They then run to a village in which they spend several weeks and encounter the German army for the first time. Deciding to return to their home-town of Krakow, they spend the next year and a half living in an area full of German families. This German environment protects the family from harassment and anti-Jewish pogroms. During this time, Leosz lives in an illusion of being in one long adventure and even pretends at times to be a German child.

In March 1941, the family is forced into the Krakow Ghetto, where they live for the next two years Leosz undergoes an accelerated maturation process, learns to smuggle food and fight for his life, and is saved from three mass deportations to the death camps that catch most of his beloved aunts, uncles and cousins. With the liquidation of the ghetto in March 1943, when he is not even 11 years old, Leosz escapes alone, survives for several weeks while pretending to be a Polish street kid, and then hides for several months with a Christian family. At the end, he is caught and brought to the Plaszow labor camp to be executed. Miraculously, he manages to escape this death sentence as well, and is reunited with his father, mother and sister, who are all in the camp working as slave laborers.

For a year, he lives in Plaszow, battling daily to eat enough and survive. During this time, Leosz is saved from two "Actions" specifically aimed at catching children and sending them to their deaths. In August 1944, he is separated from his mother and sister and taken to the Gozen 2 camp in Austria together with his father.

Gozen 2 turns out to be human meat grinder, where torture, starvation, extremely hard labor, beatings and murder are the way of life. Leosz's father is killed in this hell. Several weeks before the end of the war, Leosz is brought along with a group of other prisoners to a kind of secondary death camp right next to Mauthausen. Due to a lot of luck, good people, and resourcefulness, Leosz survives until the end of the war.

On May 5th, Leosz is freed by the American army, recovers quickly, returns to life, and enjoys his freedom with all his heart, mind and soul.