Hello, My name is Avivia, which means Spring in Hebrew. My mother, Chaya, and my father, Mendel, said they picked Avivia because they had hoped I would turn out just as bright and sunny as Spring. My little brother’s name is Asher, which means happy one. My parents also told him why they chose his name. They told him they always want their children to be happy. Well enough chitter-chatter let’s get onto my survival story!
It all started when I was 13 and Asher was 7. My brother, Mummy, and I were sitting at home listening to the radio waiting for daddy to come home. Little did we know, Daddy wasn’t coming home tonight. We called Daddy’s work on the party line (a phone that rings in the whole neighborhood and if you kept it on you could hear other people’s conversations). The line said that Daddy was picked up by the S.S and taken to Auschwitz (a concentration camp)!
I was so frightened and upset. I didn’t know what I was going to do without Daddy. I went into my room and sobbed for hours and hours until I heard Mummy call me.
“Pack your clothes we need to leave.”
“Why are we leaving, Mummy.”
“Because they got your father, they might be coming for us next!”
“I don’t want to leave, Mummy!”
“We are leaving for our own safety.”
We chose to go to Amsterdam because we had German friends, Leon, Mila, and their two-year old Clara that were willing to hide us. We called our friends, Fynn and Emilia, who were Germans, to smuggle us out of Poland to Amsterdam. We put our bags in the back of their motor vehicle and started driving. It was a 22 hour and 55 minute drive.
We finally reached Amsterdam. Our friends were waiting on their deck for us to arrive. We quickly brought our bags inside their house. As soon as we came Mila greeted us with hugs. We haven’t seen her since before Asher was born. Leon said,”We need to get inside so no one would gain suspicion about us.” Mila made us a terrific chicken soup for dinner. Leon said we should get to bed at about 11 p.m. so we could get some sleep.
We stayed at their house for two years. One day we woke up and we heard the Germans had taken over Amsterdam. Before we could leave the house Nazis came and took us to Auschwitz. We were taken to Auschwitz in a cattle car. There was barely any room to even stand. When we slept, lice would crawl through the cracks in the floor onto our bodies. We were in this miserable condition for five days. I was so frightened I could barely sleep!
When we arrived, there were guards everywhere holding guns and there was barbed wire fencing around the whole camp. You could hear constant alarms, screaming, and you felt terrified.
We were either sent to the left or right. If you were sent to the left you were sent to gas chambers and were immediately killed. If you were sent to the right you were sent to do treacherous work. I was sent to the right, but Asher and my mother were sent left. They said my brother was too young and my mother was too old. Everyone was too scared to shower because we were afraid that gas would come out of the shower. Everyone was relieved when it was water that came out of the faucet instead of gas.
Two days after I arrived, they came and rolled up the sleeve of my star marked uniform and tattooed a number on my arm. The number was so they could keep track of the Jews in the camp. I worked in the garden section. If I was lucky I could smuggle some food out. They didn’t let us sleep much, but when they did I could barely sleep. All I could think about was my family. I was the only one left. Day after day, I would sob for as long as I could before I was sent to do a task.
I was fed one meal a day and it was a bland cabbage soup. I would be working and I would see someone trying to escape drop down to the ground. If you tried to leave you were shot. Sometimes dogs would be sent after you if you tried to leave. Everyday I could see young children being thrown into trucks to be killed and mothers chasing after the trucks. Unfortunately the woman would be shot and killed.
I wouldn’t talk to anyone and no one would talk to me because you didn’t know who to trust. The only time people would talk to each other was if they were family. When I saw this I felt so depressed because I had no family left.
Two years I was in Auschwitz, then one day the allies conquered the Nazis that were there and liberated everyone. I was overjoyed that I could leave! I was almost certain that I was going to die in that terrifying camp.
When I was liberated I had nowhere to go so I went back to Mila and Leon’s house and stayed there until the Holocaust was over. When the Holocaust ended I was so excited. I didn’t have to hide anymore. The Holocaust was a time of great terror and death. Not many survived but the people that did are some extremely lucky people.