Elly: My True Story Of The Holocaust
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At just 15, her mother, and brother were taken from their Romanian town to the Auschwitz-II/Birkenau concentration camp. When they arrived at Auschwitz, a soldier waved Elly to the right; her mother and brother to the left. She never saw her family alive again. Thanks to a series of miracles, Elly survived the Holocaust. Today she is dedicated to keeping alive the stories of those who did not. Elly appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes for her involvement in bringing an important lawsuit against Volkswagen, whose German factory used her and other Jews as slave laborers.
gave us twenty dollars, a loaf of bread, a container of milk, a bag of potatoes, and dinner in their home for three days. And he arranged for us to sleep nearby. We arrived on a Thursday. On Sunday, with two subway tokens and a piece of bread, I was sent to work in a factory. Using a sewing machine, I put together zip-out linings. The dust irritated the constant cough I had contracted in December 1944 when working as slave in Germany. It was like whooping cough; I choked and could not breathe.
COLLEGE In my youth, I had no chance for a higher education. When the opportunity finally came in America, I registered for college. My English wasn’t the best, and my pronunciation was a disaster. In my first year, I had to repeat English class. For those of us born in foreign lands, it takes tremendous effort to learn how to speak and write English. In English, you do not read every letter and sometimes you pronounce them in different ways. But I had learned; I was in college. Often I asked
whom to talk and study together. Sometimes I invited a group of girls for coffee. I wished to be young; to have common ground with them for conversations; to laugh and to be a teenager. But I missed those years and had grown old at an early age. My youth was taken away from me. Because of my other responsibilities, I had to study beginning at ten every evening until two or three in the morning. English, chemistry, and algebra were difficult, but I liked math, especially the Roman numerals, to
building. Our escorts screamed, “Go inside! Fast!” We entered a large hall with benches around the wall and numbered hooks. On the wall were signs written in German and in Hungarian: “Tie your shoes together.” “Remember your hook number, to find your clothes quickly.” How organized the Germans were. What a lie it was. We did not know. None of us got our clothes back. Our folded clothes were sent to German citizens as bonuses. Screaming soldiers watched us undress. Our heads were shaved. In the
rotating tray attached to the table. The finished objects were hooked on the assembly chain, which rolled into the dryer room. We worked in two groups, either for twelve hours during the day or for twelve hours at night. I worked the nights. My arms and back hurt. In front of us was a large fan. Above was a grate where people walked. We were given a mask, working gloves, a short jacket, and two cups of skimmed milk. By October 1944, my mouth was bleeding from the paint fumes. Blood leaked on my