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My mother's yahrtzeit came, but since I didn't know where her grave was, I was very drawn to at least go to my father's grave. I had a premonition that if I won't see my father's grave now, I will never again see it.

The new chief went into the 'work-house,' so I asked if I could make a request to him (this was on a Wednesday). When he said yes, I asked him if he could allow me to go to the ghetto on Sunday and that a soldier should accompany me. He growled and left. I remained standing, embittered.

But a few minutes later he returned and told me to remind him on Friday. Maybe he would be able to do something, he was from Riga and he knew few people here. This was August 14. I wanted to go to my father's grave on August 18.

But the next day a strange thing happened. The chief happened to see a Jewish boy, Ron, from the Grive, carrying a full sack of stolen military shoes and he wants to hide them somewhere so that he would be able to exchange them later for produce.

The chief detained the boy and called for the Jewish 'elder' Yashe Maggid. Maggid sized up the situation and wanted to at least cover up the matter somewhat, so he slapped the boy and told him to ask the chief for pardon. The boy knew that this was to show the chief that the Jews know nothing about the theft.

The chief was a wise bandit, however, so he said that he would report this to the SS and that the boy would be hung.

We didn't keep quiet though. We collected money, bought a nice gold watch and shut up the chief's mouth. Yashe Maggid was always the good messenger in such cases. It all was smoothed away this time also and we still couldn't live with only what we were given by the Germans. . .

After he took the gold watch the chief was the same scoundrel and I was advised not to bother him about going to my father's grave. First of all, I'm not the only one who wants to go and cry my heart out at the grave of a relative and secondly, I should remember that it's not the same chief as the old one.


Saturday morning the chief came in and as he passed by me, he asked me why I didn't remind him yesterday about my request. I replied that since such an ugly act as the theft just happened, something that had surely caused him plenty of heartache, I don't want to trouble him now with my request.

'Nu, the ghetto is now a military matter, but,' he said, he spoke to a few other elders and he managed, with great difficulty, that I should go. Here, though, he wanted to see if we had anything to do with the soldiers, so he told me to take a soldier and go. I told him, on the spot, that no one talks to us here because we are Jews, so that I can't choose someone to accompany me be myself. He didn't reply and went away grimly.

On Saturday we used to work until two o'clock, so that Saturday, on the way home, Dr. Stykowich came running up to me with the news that the chief said that I, and the coachman, Brundl, could go to the ghetto tomorrow morning.

We all rejoiced greatly, and since we saw that the chief softened up somewhat, another few women joined me on the trip.

First we went to my father's place of burial that was covered with weeds by now, then we rode over to the Griver cemetery. There each of us chose a grave site. I found aunt Shneider's there. We cried our hearts out and it got a bit lighter for us. We fasted that day.

Frau Raye Alis (born Ron) accompanied me that day; also Frau Goron who had a child buried in the cemetery after she died in the ghetto from diphtheria; and Miriam Bravo, a 17-year-old girl who came along to cry her heart out at her grandmother's grave. Her grandmother died in the ghetto. She also lost her mother and father in the ghetto.

I now saw that even in the bitterest time one can achieve something, so long as one has enough courage and one doesn't fear the murderers too much.


We were vaccinated against typhus. The Germans feared lest we spread the disease amongst them. I helped the German medic with this as well as Dr. Stykowich. It lasted all day until late, and it so happened that at that time I had to go to the city, so I set out. But since I was very tired, from working all day, and besides, the dark thoughts didn't leave me, I didn't notice that a truck was chasing after me and I barely had time to get out of the way. For a minute I thought that this is my end. .

. 'Mama!' I screamed, with all the strength I had.

When I opened my eyes, I saw that the soldier must have quickly steered away from me and it was a great miracle that I remained alive.

The soldiers who just happened to go out from the fortress at that time, saw the incident, so they forgot who I was, and congratulated me for remaining alive.

The old woman, Zislin was also with me. When she saw that nothing happened to me, she said that it must certainly have been my mother who had saved me this time also.

I got very scared, but I didn't want to turn back. We made our way through the fields to the city. Here, in the fields I started to cry after the great fright I had endured.


In the city I went to an acquaintance's daughter, where she, the daughter, had, according to what someone told me, a letter for me.

The letter was from a Christian woman, Manya Pakromovich. She wrote me that she had a dream that she went into our house. Father was sick in bed and she wanted to apply a wet compress to his head, but my brother Aaron got angry and didn't let her; meanwhile father showed her that he was already better.

In the morning she told her dream to her parents, so her mother said they must find out if any of our family are still alive, and if so its necessary to help them.

So she made inquiries and found out that I am still alive; she therefore asked that next Wednesday (it just happened to be Yom Kippur) I should come to such and such a bakery around 3 o'clock; she'll wait for me there.

Good. Erev Yom Kippur I went to the city, covered my yellow patch, and when no one saw, I snuck into the certain bakery where Manya and her husband were waiting for me. With tears and hugs they handed me a sack of chala and asked me to come every Wednesday at the same time to them, and if I have somewhere to hide they will bring me food every day.

Manya's husband was a communist. With the communists he was a kind of official. A Jewish boy had been found at his place, in hiding (a nephew of my brother from his wife's side, a grandson of the Rebbe Patashes of Dvinsk) and for this he was imprisoned for eight months. It cost him a lot of money and he got out, all gray.

I went to my acquaintances, fasted and went to the fortress.

The next day, the Holy Day itself, we were given very hard work: loading bombs. I appeared for work, voluntarily, though I had a wound in my armpit and could have stayed home. However, I couldn't bear the sight of others working so hard on a fast day.

At work I was told that a Christian was looking for me. I looked around and saw one of our Russian acquaintances, Shaligin, a good friend of my father, of blessed memory. He gave me his portion of food, spoke with me for a while, and whispered a secret in my ear, that the Russians aren't far away and will soon reach here. I asked him to save me and my sister in Canada will pay him for this.

'Good,' he said, and he told me to come Sunday, around six o'clock, to a certain bridge, far off from the old city and he will take me somewhere to hide.

That's how Saturday passed, and I started to await Sunday.


Talk was starting to circulate that a concentration camp is being prepared for us in Riga and that we will soon be taken there. We knew that this would not come to pass without victims.

Many started to contemplate running away - when it will come to being led away and selections will begin: the healthy ones separately and the elderly separately. We started to think about making 'hideouts' in the cellars of broken houses or wherever possible. Whoever had such a hiding place, started to prepare it, to sneak some bread into the place, some carrots and whatever else it was possible to salvage.

Everyone kept their 'hideout' secret from the others and we started to wait: What will happen now? We knew very well that we couldn't survive very long in such cold, shattered cellars, without doors or windows, and most important - without food, but since we desperately did not want to fall into the hands of the murderers, we grabbed at a straw. . . as long as there is the slightest possibility of running away we will run and hide.

With such thoughts we awoke and with such thoughts we went to bed, fearing the morrow.

I didn't have a 'hideout.' I walked around embittered, listening to people whispering about running away, and I thought how good it is at such a time to have someone to consult with. It was already the second year that I was all alone and I did only what my exhausted heart told me.

But, one Sunday, Dr. Boris Semyonovich Wofsy came to my bed, together with his wife, who slept with me, and he embraced me and said quietly that they have a 'hideout' and they want me to go with them to have a look at it.

We went there. The 'hideout' was on Kreslove St., in Zarch's burnt house. They showed me how to enter and if it will happen that we won't all be able to run away at the same time, I should certainly come here. They had already stored some beets and carrots here and it will do for a while.

I cheered up a bit when I saw that there are still people to be found who have me in mind, but my heart told me that coming to the 'hideout' was not something I would do.

Meanwhile, Sunday arrived and I wanted to go to Shaligin with whom I had arranged to meet behind the city. But half an hour before my departure an order came that everyone must line up and go to work all night, because many wagon loads had arrived, containing military things from the front, more than usual.

For me this was the best sign that my fate is not to save myself. I decided I wouldn't leave, because if I were to leave and there would be a count right away, five people would have to pay with their lives and this I certainly did not want. If, though, I go away, and a few days pass without a count, it might be successful without a punishment. This means that I must wait until I will get a pass to go into the city, because if I will, with a pass, not return, nobody will be to blame, just me myself. . .

I worked throughout the night and in the morning I again went to work. All day I thought about Shaligin, who probably waited for me yesterday and I didn't come.


A few days later I went with Frau Raiye Alis to her sister-in-law Ron who worked in the Petrograd station. When we came to her, she used to give us something to eat and something to take along. To her we generally went without a pass.

On the way back we heard a shot, and right after it, another shot. We passed the place where the shooting was taking place, but out of fear we didn't even look around properly. I only saw someone pick up a gun and go wild at people, but we continued on our way.

Suddenly we saw soldiers running towards us, but lucky for us, they were so confused, they didn't even see us.

Frightened, we ran into the place where we worked and we told Dr. Stykowich and our 'Jew elder,' Yashe Maggid, that something must have happened in the workshops. At the same time we told how dangerously close we were to being caught, because we didn't have permission from those in charge of the workers to go away.

As we were standing and talking, a group of soldiers entered the yard and shouted:

'Out of here! The hideouts are burning. Go and rescue!' the work places were very important for us because if our work places burn down, where will we work? So this struck us like thunder.

We all got dressed, and like one person, went to save the military stock.

Now also I didn't have to go and help because I had six abscesses in my right armpit, but when everyone went I was simply afraid to remain alone in the house.

When we came to the work places and saw them burning, we lost ourselves completely because of fear. It didn't bother us at all that German supplies were burning, but for us the question arose, will we be given other work? Therefore, we were ready to try as hard as we could. But when we heard the area commandant bark: 'All Jews between 14 and 16, into the fire!' we were terrified, because we saw that they wanted to burn us here.

Well, we didn't go into the fire, but the men stood beside the fire, rescued burning items, and threw them to us women. The items burnt our hands and our faces, but we threw them further and further.

I, with the boils under my arm, didn't avoid this. I forgot that I was in pain, but together with everyone, helped 'save our lives.'

We toiled all night and did indeed save quite a bit, but millions of coats and other items of apparel went up in smoke.

Good riddance, we thought, but where will we work tomorrow.

At daybreak we went home and once more had to prepare to get back to the same boring work: sort and count military items.

When I undressed to wash, I saw that from my 6 boils there had become one large wound. I had no medication, so I simply washed with water and tied up the wound and returned to work, tired and embittered.

The chief started to investigate the cause of the fire. We were a little afraid of this because a soldier had reported that a girl, Gina Murovina, who worked in the work shop, where the fire started, used to smoke.

She was in great danger, together with us. But, once more we bribed the chief, so he sent the soldier away 'on leave' and brushed away the report with his hand.

The truth was that the fire was probably the work of anti-German saboteurs.


Now, after we had worked so loyally for two years, repaired and sorted millions of coats, blankets and shoes, now - as German pay, came the liquidation of the few Jews in Dvinsk and at the fortress. We felt that something was suddenly going to happen here. From time to time we used to go to the city to have a look at the 'hideouts' and we seriously prepared to run away.

On October 25, 1943, we already knew that any day now our fate would be sealed.

I went to the city, even though I had nowhere to go. I went into the yard of Riga Street 42, where my parents and I once lived. I snuck up to a window and looked in. In the house I saw that someone else was already living there. In front of my eyes I pictured scenes of the homey past. . . It was at this window that mother used to stand and pray. . . Here at this very table the family would sit for their noon meal.

Yes, I did once have a home, and now: Who am I? Where am I? Whom do I have? And where will I be tomorrow? From such thoughts my heart nearly exploded.

Night started to fall, and I had nowhere to go, so I returned to the fortress. On the way I met a Jew, Solomon. He was returning from a priest who promised to take him in, but only in a few days time. He advised me also to go with him to the priest. I didn't want to consider such a means of saving myself, however. I knew that in the end everyone will turn us over to the hands of the murderers.

I went into the fortress, lay down on the hard bed, and trusted in God. . .

In a day or two, however, the situation eased up, because many of those who had run away to the city came back. In addition, the chief said that we can sleep without worrying - nothing will happen. Dr. Wofsy also came for one night to his relatives: his wife and son.

I used to lie on my hard bed and listened how secrets were being whispered and I started to imagine that this time there is no way out for me. . .

With such thoughts I used to fall asleep.


Suddenly - a shot. We all woke up. It was two o'clock at night. It was the night of October 25, 1943. Fear struck us all. We felt that the murder was starting.

I got dressed one-two-three and quickly put on a pair of army boots that I had prepared long ago in case it would be necessary to run away. Now I had another calculation in so doing. If the Latvians will hit me on my legs, I won't feel the pain so much through the army boots. I grabbed a blouse of my mother's that I guarded with my life, and a piece of my father's shroud, and I went down the stairs, ready for death, with one thought: This is how all my dear ones went to their death.

Together with me there went down Frau Adelberg and her daughter, Neta; Frau Rosenberg with her daughter Aida; Dr. Wofsy with his wife and son; Frau Zarch with her daughter, and Frau Zislin. We all stood in a row, waiting for an order. It was said that there are already 15 victims, amongst them, Dr. Goldman and his sister.

I still managed to say farewell to Dr. Goldman and to his sister. They kissed me, with poison in their mouths, and with slit arteries. I saw them letting out their last breath. To us, such scenes seemed quite 'natural,' as though it couldn't be any other way. But this 'naturalness' is impossible to describe.

Shura Apeskin didn't want to wait for her death so she hanged herself.

And here I was, standing in line again, when I saw Bentze Shaffir going down the stairs with a gun in his hand, and he shot his wife, his son, and an unrelated girl of 17 years of age. The girl requested him to shoot her, so that she would not fall into the hands of the murderers.

And the Dr. Rosenblum was coming down with his wife and his daughter Mara. They can hardly walk because they had already injected themselves with morphine.

More and more were descending the stairs and line up, already having taken poison.

One woman Landau (maiden name Kuriansky) hid, so the Lats found her and beat her to death practically and put her in line.

I was standing there, feeling faint, but somehow I couldn't take the morphine, nor the veronal tablets. I was calm, but I couldn't understand my calmness. I won't take the poison, I said to myself. I'll go with open eyes into the pit (grave) just like my dearest ones, my beloved ones went. I'm no better than them.

We were counted and we started to go out from the fortress. Armed Lat murderers guarded us. Here at the fortress we had 'enjoyed' two years and we hoped to get out of here alive. But it appears that God wants otherwise.

We passed the 'work house.' Lats were already working in our places. Their faces were full of joy that we were already being led away. Now they are getting rid of the 'Zhiddes' (Jews). Now they will be completely free to wear our clothes, our jewellery, and no one will hinder them.

One boy, Yudl Munitz (who once lived in the area), left the lines and started to run away, but the Latvian police chased after him, caught him, and shot him right there in the yard. His three sisters, Freda, Shifra and Rokhele, stayed in line, with broken hearts.

On October 25 we were led out from the fortress on a dark rainy morning. We were led by way of the dam to the prison where my brothers, Abrashe and Moishe, where my husband, where my sister-in-law and her children were all murdered. In our thoughts we said farewell to the world, and when the prison got closer, we didn't care whether we would first be taken to the prison or be led directly to the pits. . .

Engrossed in such thoughts, we didn't notice that our first rows went into the street that leads to the Tavarna station where goods are unloaded. What is the significance of this? What awaits us here?

We were herded in like livestock, 40 in a train-wagon. I happened to be together with my acquaintances. The wagons were dirty. We huddled close to each other.

'Where are we being taken?' I asked a Lat, a murderer.

He answered me with a sadistic smile that we are being taken somewhere, but he doesn't know how far. . . I wanted to draw something more out of him, so I said that the Pagulanka isn't far away. Are there many shot people buried there? He replied that maybe so, that it's better to be buried there than somewhere else. I didn't speak with him anymore, nor did I want to or was I able to.


The name of Dr. Wofsy was called out, and he was informed that he alone remains to work here. That's to say that his knowledge is needed, but his family must go where everyone is being chased to.

To describe the scene of Dr. Wofsy saying farewell to his wife and son is beyond the ability of any writer to do. He went down on his knees, on the ground, and started to distribute poison that he had prepared for himself and for his family. He distributed it the way one distributes a precious torte. People shoved to get a portion, because he didn't have enough for everyone. He tore each piece apart into five parts. I also got a portion, a gift.

Dr. Wofsy kissed us all and told us not to take the poison until we were actually at the edge of the pit, not before. . . We just have to put the poison on our tongue, then we won't have to fall into the hands of the murderers while still alive.

He was pulled away and we never saw him again. His wife and son remained with us, as though sentenced to death.

Now we already had no doubt that we are being taken on our last way. Dr. Wofsy, the skin specialist and specialist of venereal disease they still need. The murderers will still use him and then one day they will also 'liquidate' him.


There was a fellow in our wagon by the name of Feigin, a brother of the famous chess player Feigin. He had taken poison, but he couldn't die, so he was lying, struggling to die.

I also remember two sisters, Mednikov by name, Leah and Izilia who didn't take enough poison to enable them to die, and they suffered terribly, so I asked the Latvian murderers in charge of the convoy, for some water. They drank the water and brought up the poison.

Faigin suddenly got hold of some alcohol somewhere, drank it, and looked for a rope with which to hang himself. As he was doing this, he noticed two Jews, one was called Ritzpa, who were tying a rope to the ceiling of the wagon for themselves and for one other person. Faigin took advantage of this and quickly hanged himself. At that precise moment, however, the door of the wagon had to be opened so, in order that the Lats should not see people committing suicide here, he was taken down from the rope while he was still alive, but because Faigin had been hindered in trying to commit suicide, he went berserk. His eyes turned around and he started to mutter, crawled over us, and started hitting us. We saw that he wanted to die and he was in rage because he wasn't allowed to die once and for all. . .

Looking at his face, at his strange eyes and at his wild behaviour, we all screamed hysterically. Here he was, near me, wanting to grab me. Everyone ran away from him but he pursued like a wolf. After a while the Lats realized that something was going on in our wagon, so they came in and killed him.

And that's how that 'incident' ended.

But these two Jews didn't give up their plan. After Faigen's 'ideal' death they started to hang themselves, as though nothing had happened here. But a girl, Nata Adlberg and I started to plead with them not to do such a thing, because it's too much for us to witness.

Just then they started to take us to Pogulanka where the earth is soaked with the blood of tens of thousands of Jewish victims from Latvia, Holland and other countries. Our eyes and thoughts were directed to the forest that had once been a cure place (holiday place) where, at one time, one could see numberless Jews with their children and which is now a mass grave that sometimes cannot even cover all the bodies. . . The Lats who pass by there, and other good friends of ours, enjoy the beautiful panorama, where bones poke out of the earth and were one sometimes sees a human limb scattered.

We were very surprised, though, that our transport came to Pogulanka, but didn't stop there but kept on moving. So we thought that Pogulanka is already 'full,' and we are being taken to another forest where there is more room for us. . .

In this way we travelled all night - with Dr. Wofsy's gift in our hands. The stations were familiar to me. They were leading to Riga. What could this mean? We asked each other. Why are we being taken so far to be shot? Could the 205 Jews we were be finished off on the way? We were convinced that we are, therefore, obviously not being taken to be shot.

We looked painful at the dead Faigin. If that 23 or 24 year old fellow would have known that we are not being taken to be shot, he would still be alive now. . . and the same for those at the fortress.

The two Jews who last night were preparing to hang themselves, kept plaguing me with questions if it's really true that we are being taken to Riga. 'Yes,' I replied. 'I once lived in Riga, and I often travelled on the Riga line to Dvinsk, so I know all the stations.'


So it was, that with hope and expectation, we didn't notice that night had come already, and we have been en route for more that two days without food or drink. That was only half the suffering, however. It was dreadful when someone had to 'eliminate' and didn't have where to do this.

The Lats who accompanied us would sometimes stop the train and let us out. With the cudgels in their hands they used to stand and look where the women do what they have to do, and they used to mock.

We rode on and on and suddenly I became fearful lest we would be fooled. The second night stretched and stretched. If something was going to happen I was prepared to take poison. I had nothing to fear. I have more than enough poison. Aside from the cyanide that Dr. Wofsy had given me, I still had the 20 tablets of veronal and the morphine that Abrashe Zweighorn gave me in 1942.

I was so prepared for the idea of poisoning that I wished that the doors would already be opened and we would be told to undress. I already pictured myself falling into the pit with the cyanide on my tongue.


With such thoughts the third day began. We were taken to the Riga station Stchiratova. Our wagons weren't the only ones here. We were taken a little further away to the forest. It was still dark, maybe 5 o'clock in the morning. This was the time when the murderers usually did their executions. Now we knew for sure that this was our end.

From the distance we saw Lats bringing wheel barrows of white sand. We looked at one another. This was for us, to cover us with after we would be shot.

The train stopped. We saw SS men dressed as though for a parade and hordes of Lats with their guns pointed at us. From such a reception we were in a state of shock. The doors were opened and an SS man stepped into our wagon and ordered us to get out.

'And where are your bags?' he asked.

I replied that when going to one's death one doesn't need bags. He looked at me strangely and said that we are not being taken to death but to life.

'Good. Let's hope that it is to life,' I agreed and we dismounted from the wagon.

Anyone who saw the faces of the people could see what the mere thought of death did to them. Just a few days ago we did look somewhat different. This is probably how my mother, husband, and my brother looked and felt on their way to death, and maybe my sister Shifra as well, of whom I haven't heard anything to the present day.


We were lined up in rows and we were told that we are being taken to the Riga ghetto where more Jews are waiting for us and that we'll soon get bread and coffee.

'And kukhen (something like cake or Danish pastry) too?' I asked in vain.

The murderer, whose name, I later found out, was Roshman, replied:

'Unfortunately, we ourselves don't have kukhen.'

Frau Dr. Wofsy on one hand and Frau Adelberg on the other, were annoyed with me and asked me not to say anything else. It could do harm.

As we were waiting thus, we saw trucks in the distance, and on the trucks, men with yellow patches. These were German Jews. We became somewhat pessimistic, because we didn't trust German Jews. Why? Because we knew of a story that German Jews had reported that Latvian Jews had ammunition that was sought and found, and this cost 180 young Jewish lives.

The German Jews told us what we already knew: that we are being taken to the ghetto. We are being awaited there. Whoever so wishes may join them, but it's possible to go on foot too. It's a distance of five kilometers. We decided to go on foot, because if, God forbid, it was to death, there was no rush. And so it was that our lines set off, dismally and faintly.

I was so thirsty for a sip of water that I felt I was soon going to faint from thirst. I asked a Lat to let me go to a source of water, or to a stream, but he didn't even want to hear of such a thing. So I told him that I don't care, he can even shoot me. I left the line and went into an open yard, started a pump and poured water on my head and my face, my heart, had a good drink, and returned to the lines to tell the others to do as I had done and not wait for the coffee and kukhen because the Lat won't shoot here, so close to the ghetto. . .


I entered the ghetto like a wet chicken, with wet hair and looking like a wreck. There was a piece of bread and coffee ready for each of us. To my great surprise I met there people whom I had known previously. They recognized me immediately. They even told me that my brother Aaron would soon return from work. I could hardly stand still with anticipation. After all, I hadn't seen my brother for three years, and what three years.

My acquaintances stood and waited to witness the meeting with my brother. Suddenly I felt two warm hands embracing me and don't want to let go.

I didn't recognize my brother. He was a skeleton. He looked like an old Jew and he looked so pitiful that it broke my heart. He told me briefly what he had endured. Yes, he hopes that our sister is alive because she escaped to the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile they had begun to count and register us. So Dr. Rosenblum approached me, with his wife and daughter, and asked me to register them as my parents. I consulted with my brother and it was decided that I should register as born a Rosenblum.

Suddenly, I heard someone call out: 'Who thought you were being taken to be shot?'

I had to step up and admit, very fearful. I now found out a 'small detail.' I had been toying with death - I had had the nerve to speak to the assistant of commandant Crauso himself, with Roshman. This Roshman, whenever he got the urge, used to shoot ten Jews before meal time, and only after this, go and eat. But my mother and father must have protected me this time also.

My brother gave me a few instructions about how to behave in the Kaiserwald Concentration Camp, the place where we were now being taken: I must be quick in my movements so that I will avoid getting a blow to the head.

We were loaded onto trucks. When I said farewell to my brother, he grabbed the poison from my hands and threw it away.

'You won't need it anymore.'

And so it was that I went to a new 'home.'

Up to then I really didn't know what a concentration camp really is.

We were led through many of the Riga streets. I recognized many of the streets. Here I often enjoyed life. Memories sprang to my mind. . .

Finally we came, in the dark, to Kaiserwald.


Here in Kaiserwald there were once good boarding houses (for visitors) and Jews used to come here for summer vacations. I had also spent three weeks here in August, 1940.

Now, not far from here, in a forest, there are large barracks, each one of which accommodates between six to seven hundred people. The barracks are encircled with barbed wire, and at each of the four corners Lats stand guard lest anyone try to run away. We later found out that the barbed wire was electrified and that as soon as one comes in contact with it one dies immediately.

The Jews in the camp told us that when a Jew tries to run away and gets tangled in the wires and dies, the Lats sit in their watchtowers and are very pleased. They don't try to catch the person, nor is the electric power turned off. The Jew is left to quiver until he dies.

This was the 'fine' camp where we now found ourselves. We didn't have to wait very long in order to see what hell this was. Immediately upon arrival we could see in the dark how naked people were kneeling and being put to death.

We were told to quickly get off the trucks and to march into the barracks. There well-fed creatures, with murderous faces awaited us, in striped trousers, with blue jackets and blue berets on their head.

They started to ask us who we are, what our names are, and if we possess anything gold or other valuables we should hand them over willingly, otherwise we'll be shot. I didn't have anything with me.

I registered as the daughter of Dr. Rosenblum. We stood together as a family.

The men were reported and we women were taken into miserable cold barracks, almost naked as we were. There our hair was 'cut off.' They cut a piece here, a piece there, so that we should look abnormal. When we looked at one another we had to laugh, but it was laughter through tears. After we were 'nicely' shorn, we were given a cold shower and we were shoved into a second barrack. In this second barrack German-Jewish girls were working. Each of us got an old torn dress and a shirt and we were chased out into the cold yard, wet as we were, in the dark. The tall ones got short dresses that reached only to above the knees, and the shorted ones - dresses that reached to the ground.

We weren't told where to go, but neither could we remain in the yard, so I went into a barrack in block number two, opposite the bathhouse.

Here the block elder was an old German-Jewish woman, Hochheimer.

A horrible picture confronted me: a huge stinking barrack, full of victims, 4-5-6 in a narrow lair; all they did was scratch themselves. The 'crawling things' were eating them up alive. Here we saw an old woman standing beside a candle picking at a shirt. The lice, she threw on a pile on the floor. Elsewhere two women were quarreling because one said that the other had stolen her bread.

The barrack was full of such scenes.

I asked one of them how long they're here. She replied that it's already three months. I couldn't get over the fact that anyone could endure such filth for three months.

Meanwhile, it got later and we had to turn off the light.

The question now was, where to lie down. Our group preferred to lie down on the cold floor, rather than on a board. We would see what would happen further, anything to avoid the lice-laden ones, the scratching victims, some of whom were sick with scabies and in addition, had hunger-wounds on their skeletal bodies.

I lay down with another few women on the hard, cold floor and after much suffering we finally fell asleep through exhaustion. We didn't even feel the cold wind, rising from the floor, wrapping itself around us.

From such a night my face got so swollen that my eyes weren't even visible in the morning.


At four o'clock in the morning a bell woke me up. We had to line up for roll-call. I didn't have to get dressed because I hadn't taken my clothes off, but all my limbs felt broken and shouted: 'Gevald!'

One, two, three, as my brother Aaron had instructed me, I went out to the yard for the roll-call. On my sleeves I had a number 9295. This was October, 1943, four o'clock in the morning, that is.

I couldn't see anything in front of my eyes, only exhausted, unwashed faces. All were standing, lined up, like soldiers. By name the people were strangers to me, but with the suffering - close.

I stood in our 'group of five' and waited to find out the significance of roll-call. We were standing, swollen, shivering from the cold, encouraging each other. Suddenly we heard shouts from the distance: 'Stand up straight, etc.' These were frightening shouts, but we had to stand up straight and not move, because if we did we would get struck a blow so that we would quickly learn how to stand still.

Suddenly, I felt someone coming. . . a nice blond murderous German woman appeared. Koba was her name. She was dressed very elegantly, and she started to count us, at the same time looking to see if anyone wasn't standing straight. The 'head gate keeper' was assisting her. Anyone who wasn't standing straight immediately got struck on the head so that they could no longer stand on their feet. But nobody was allowed to show any empathy with the person in such a case, but had to pretend not to see and not to hear.

We were counted and the numbers corresponded. The murderers left and we lined up in rows to go out to the city to work. Our 'group of five' though we were new, were also sent to work.

We were told to get up on trucks and we were driven to Riga, 15 kilometers from the camp. In torn dresses, and with shorn heads we entered the city's Police Station. Here we had to wash the floors and the outhouses.

While we worked and while we ate - some dirty muddy soup - we were guarded by SS men, and every minute we were counted like horses at a market.

When we got home after such a day's work, we couldn't feel our bones. The next day we were driven to work, but this time elsewhere. Here a boss looked us over and felt us, like horses, and selected 12 women.

This work place was called 'Bau Rat Wilke,' and employed around 80 people. I was together with Batya Kling here; also Frau Adelberg and her daughter; Frau Dr. Wofsy, Frau Rosenberg and her daughter.

Here the work was even harder. Railway lines were being built here. We, women, were harnessed like horses, pulling wheel barrows of sand, dug furrow for trucks and moved rails. Carrying the rails actually tore our guts out, that how hard it was for us. Besides, we laid the rails in the frost of winter, without socks on our frozen feet.

Slowly we built a line that was not bad at all, and a train started to run back and forth on it right away. Oh how we wanted that a train should sometimes go off-track and the engineer get killed, but what good would that have done us? Just more victims. But as long as one is alive the desire is to remain alive and hope for miracle. . .

Well, time didn't stand still. The hair on our heads began to grow back. I was already sleeping on a berth like everyone else, and I had already adjusted to the 'normal' life around us, like an animal existence.

Meanwhile words reached us that on November 2, the remaining Jews who were still in the ghetto had been 'liquidated.' I fear greatly for my brother Aaron, because I didn't know where he was. Suddenly, though, I got a note from him that he is at a work place in Strassenhauf. There he works as a watchmaker and a goldsmith, and he asked if people will be taken there to work, I should try to come there as well, because he is better off with bread than I am. This being the case, I inquired if workers are being taken to Straussenhauf.

Another time he wrote me that he sent me 500 marks with a Jew. The young man, Kirsh was his name, really came, but he only gave me a fifty. I didn't even question him because of what help would it have been.

In Kaiserwald camp my husband's brother was also present. He always tried to work together with me in order to be able to help me with a piece of bread. I didn't feel right taking bread from him, because he is a man, and for a man it is harder to suffer hunger. But more than once when we were sitting at noon time to swallow the muddy, sandy water that was called soup, he would sneak a piece of bread to me. Once, he couldn't bear to see me struggling without a spoon, so the next day he provided me with a tin spoon from somewhere - and now I could, more quickly, eat the sandy pieces of cabbage leaves that were in the soup-water.


As our luck would have it, a very frosty winter set in. The cold cut like knives. My shoes were torn and my toes and fingers cut like needles. I felt that I was perishing, but there was no place to get my shoes repaired. Once I actually started to cry and asked the men, Yashe Magid, Bomeh Zeligman and Grisha Garon who were here together with their families, to repair my shoes.

So, once, late in the evening, when everyone was asleep, I went out into the yard and tossed my shoes over the barbed wire fence. There, Herr Maggid picked them up. Meanwhile I wore the shoes of someone who was sick with typhus.

A week later I got the shoes back - also thrown back over the fence and it was a little better for me.


Some women who knew me in Kaiserwald helped me a lot. In Barrack 3, for instance, lived Riva Zarch from Dvinsk, with her 13-year-old daughter, Mayetchka. This child was so weakened that she couldn't stand on her feet.

As much as I worried about this child, Frau Zarch worried more. She had none other than this child, so that she used to miraculously get a cursed piece of bread into the camp, or a few potatoes as small as a pea, so she used to give me a share also. She herself used to bring it to me in Barrack 2 after evening roll-call, or she used to send it over with her precious daughter. Quite often I would lie on my berth, unable to fall asleep because of hunger - and suddenly I would feel someone grabbing me by my foot and giving me some cooked potatoes, frozen ones. This was either Mayetchka or her mother who was herself not strong. Then I could eat and fall sleep like a human being. . .

Once Maya brought me some old thrown-out potatoes from somewhere covered with ice. I delighted with them, but when I ate them I felt such a cold and such a piercing in my stomach that I thought that for sure I had typhus. However, it didn't do me any harm.

I used to look for food in the garbage, usually in a concentration camp, or I would sneak into a Latvian kitchen and beg for a potato. As I would leave I would sometimes see a pail of potato peel outside, together with other refuse. . . This was prepared for the pigs. I used to start shoving this into my pockets or into a paper. I was happy at the thought of how many people I could still their hunger with this.

Stealing refuse was not a minor misdeed. Every slave had to be equal with all the others and was not supposed to venture out on a food-search. But twice a day we were allowed to go out of the barrack for five minutes. It was in those five minutes that I went to scrounge for food.

Once, I was standing digging a furrow for a railway line when a German saw me standing and crying from the cold and he asked me if I would like to work in a barrack of electrical appliances. I was very happy with this offer, naturally. The next day he took me and another few women and men to work in his barrack.

In this barrack there was an iron oven. How good! I thought. I will no longer have to freeze. Two Russians also worked there. From time to time they would give us some of their bread. The work was hard and very responsible, but I accepted it all lovingly, so long as I wouldn't be taken away from here.


At the same time, however, I lived with the thought that if I heard called out for people to come forth to work in Shtraussenhauf, where my brother works, I would immediately be prepared to go. Well, one evening after roll-call there was an announcement that anyone who wants to go to work in Shtraussenhauf should step forward. All my acquaintances looked towards me because the knew why I was drawn to Shtraussenhauf, but I was like paralyzed and couldn't say a word. What happened to me at that time is still a mystery for me, because only when it was announced that the number is full, my speech returned, not before. I asked myself what this could signify. Was it a sign I shouldn't step forth because there is a hidden danger lurking? Why should a sinner like me get such a sign? My acquaintances probably thought that I'm no longer drawn to my brother. . .

Such instances, by the way, happened to me more that once. At a very decisive moment I became mute. And so I remained in the dismal camp and guarded myself against blows. I no longer looked especially wild. My hair grew back. Also, a Viennese girl gave me a dress - so who could compare themselves to me? . . .


On one cold winter night in 1944 we suddenly hear a fire alarm ringing. We immediately went down from our bunks, wanting to know what happened. We saw everything around us burning and we heard the voices of SS men and the sadistic guards attacking us and threatening quite openly, to burn us all.

What sort of a new trick had now been prepared for us? we asked each other fearfully. What sort of a new order did Zauer, the commandant of Kaiserwald get now? I suddenly felt very forlorn. We were all experiencing dreaded fear, but soon I heard a familiar voice. It was my acquaintance, Batya Kling. She even helped me find one of my socks that had gotten dragged away in the confusion.

What should we do now? we asked each other. Go outside and get shot - or remain here and get burnt alive?

Meanwhile one woman came in with the news that what was burning was the warehouse where the things that had been stolen from us were. This meant nobody but us would be suspected.

What could we do. We despaired. Each of us was ready to lay down their life if those guilty of the fire were sought.

A while later we discovered that a Pole who guarded us ran away, probably the one who set the place on fire. He had broken the wires and escaped; then the men were shoved into the fire and told to save. Those who got burnt doing rescue work were taken to the precinct but we never saw them again.

We waited the whole time to be called also, but we weren't called. But the next morning, all of us, without exception, had to pick up the burnt things and take them to another place. Sorting and making order of the burnt things took us nearly the whole week. After the week we were again taken to work outside of the city and I returned to my previous barrack. In comparison to the Kaiserwald hell the work in the barrack was an Eden.


One Sunday we weren't allowed out of the (lager) camp. We were told to line up in the yard so we lined up and waited for the worst.

Well, we were told that the women, in their coats or in their clothing, should carry a hill of sand from one place to another. There was no point to this other than to torture us and to see some of us die, because bullets were becoming too costly for us. The men had to transfer another hill in wheel barrows, a larger one. It was an'ideal' ghetto picture. On a wet winter day, when snow was still falling, naked people were running around, like dead, and the murderers stand and beat with their cudgels, as a bonus, left and right. More than one wished he was dead at that moment because it was impossible to bear.

Here was Miriam Bravo running past, naked. She was a beautiful girl from Dvinsk. She was choking from tears and she utters a word that she is going to report sick. We ran after her with our bundles of sand and we plead with her not to do so, because the sick are never seen again. . .

I encouraged everyone but I felt that my legs would not support me and that my veins would soon burst from running like crazy back and forth in the snow so as not to get beaten.

Ita Rosenberg and I took a rag and were carrying the sand in it so that we wouldn't have to take our clothes off, but a murderess noticed that we carried a little less, so we both got struck with the cudgel over the head so that we saw stars. We barely survived that indescribable day's work. Many perished, however, mostly men, because their pain was greater than ours.

In the evening it was announced that whoever wants to go to Estonia should step forth. Miriam Bravo and other such fine children stepped forth - just so they could get away from this hell, though they had no idea of what awaited them there in Estonia. I didn't step forth. I decided I wasn't going to move from here unless told to.

The next day I went to work at my old place. I couldn't work though, because of the terrible ache in my body. I said that the reason I couldn't work today was, so no harm was done to me. How good it is for me that I'm working here, I thought to myself.not only did I have a piece of bread to eat here, but I could often warm up some water in a tin container so that I had some warm water with which to wash my face and even wash my hair - something which one could only dream of in the camp.

After the life of a dog in Kaiserwald, and after the work in 'my own' work place, I went back to the camp on Sunday, February 1, 1944.


One day we only worked until 12 noon. In the roll-call yard women were picked to work at the A.E.G. (cable-wire factory), where there were already around 800 women amongst 4,000 Latvian murderers. The housing was better there, it's true, and we could get hot water, but food was the problem, because, aside from the camp food there was nowhere where one could get anything additional. Besides, we were afraid to go alone there where the Latvian police accompany people back and forth and where after work people are locked up.

If a woman sometimes got sick in the factory, and returned to the camp, we in the camp were surprised at how dreadful she looks. . . because here we could still sometimes find an extra piece of bread when we went out of the city to work, or sometimes someone snuck a loaf of bread in for his close ones, or for others.

I stood in great fear because my heart told me that today I would go. At that moment someone pulled at my sleeve, wrote my number 9295 and I was chased to the other registered ones.

We were counted once more and told that tomorrow morning we are going to work in the A.E.G. factory. I knew that there were some people I knew in that factory but I also know that there the hunger is very bad and that from there I won't have any contact with my brother Aaron and from there I certainly won't be able to go to him. What was I to do?

I approached a murderer, actually - to the camp head, and asked him if I could go to Shtraussenhauf, because I have a brother there. He said to me:

'Nu, good. So don't go tomorrow. But in the evening you'll get 25 lashes, and someone else will go in your place.'

I had great fear of lashes because, first of all, it would put me on the list of punished ones, and when victims are needed they are usually taken from the list. Secondly, I wouldn't have survived 25 such lashes with a stick, so I went there were I was apparently destined to go.

I said farewell to my acquaintances and in the morning when everyone went to work we 25 women were taken to the bath house to get cleaned up for work at the A.E.G.

Dr. Rosenblum's daughter was also with me, and since her mother wanted to be together with her daughter, we went to the office and asked if she could take my place. The clerk, a German, listened to the mother's request, and struck her such a blow in the chest that she fell back. As she fell back, her head struck my nose. I started to bleed so much that I nearly fainted.

I didn't want to show my weakness, however, so I just started to cry. With shouts I was driven into the bath where my dress was taken away from me, and I was given a striped prisoner's dress with a jacket. The dress was long and wide and the jacket short, and there was nothing to use as a belt.

Wet and embittered, we were put on an open truck, on the bare floor, and in a terrible frost we were driven to the A.E.G. in Riga. That was February 2, 1944. The frost froze our feet. Huddled one beside the other like chickens, we rode through the city to our new 'home,' where others, exhausted like us, awaited us.

After riding for an hour, we stopped in front of a building where we entered and were once again counted and examined to make sure we didn't have any infectious diseases. Our heads were rubbed with disinfectant and we were herded into the barracks where the women live. It happened to be lunch time. I recognized many people who were here from before. Their faces were pale but clean. And imagine how happy I was when I went into the 'washroom and saw hot water! I couldn't tear myself away from it. But we new ones were soon called for roll-call where a German supervisor sent us the following day to various sections of the factory.


I got sent to the hardest work: at electric wires. Here people worked in three shifts: one shift from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m., a second shift from 2 p.m. until 10 in the evening, a third, from 10 in the evening until 6 in the morning. It so happened that I worked in the morning.

The factory was large. Before the war it was called WEF. At that time no Jews worked there. My tough luck was to be assigned to work at very hard work: pulling the cable wire. I saw at once that such dragging of wet cable out of the water will tear my guts out, so I went up to a Latvian boss, Mekovsky, and told him that I'm a Jewish child from Latvia and that I simply can't work so hard. He listened to me and took me over to a table where a nice young Jewish girl was sitting, Izireleh Lipovska, from Vilnius. He told her to teach me how to repair the broken cable wire with the machine, when they come back from the front.

I thanked him very nicely and that very day I did indeed repair a cable. I was in seventh heaven because I was capable of everything, but not to heavy physical work. In one week I had my own machine and I sat out and worked a complete shift and didn't say a word to anyone. I was happy that I can sit and work in the warmth and nobody bothers me. While I worked I thought of my dear ones who had perished and about the happy life I once had.

When we got home from work we washed and didn't want to get out of the shower, because people were falling like flies because of great hunger. Once we were given pieces of fat in the soup. It smelled very bad and I couldn't take it in my mouth. Others did eat it. Later we found out that it was the fat of dead Jews (victims).

That's how I worked for 3 months until an order was given that Jews mustn't have Latvian bosses. At that time I and another 2 women (Dora Stein from Lebau and Elana Isakovna Rosenberg from Dvinsk) were appointed as translators, because amongst all the Jewish women (from Lithuania, Germany and Poland) we, from Latvia, were the only ones who understood Latvian, so we had to be on our feet all day long, give the Latvian bosses the work, teach the new workers and furnish a weekly report how many cables were made.

We didn't get anything for this work but we were glad that we didn't have to rush with the work and that the Lats couldn't point out who is sick. We used to find a way to help each other.

On Sundays we used to get together in the 2nd block and sing various ghetto songs: 'Es Hot unz Das Lebn Gerufn (Life has called us), 'Zog nit Kain mol az du geist dem letzten Veg' (Never say that your going your last way), 'Di Zelbe Gasen un Tramveyen' (The same streets and tramways), 'Es Brent Briderlech, es Brent' (It's burning brothers, it's burning), 'Ghetto, Dir Fargessen Vel Ikn Kainmalnit' (Ghetto, I'll never Forget You), 'Kaiserwald, Vi Vertmen Fun Dir Poter' (Kaiserwald, How Do We Get Rid of You). (This last one we sang even while still in Kaiserwald.) 'In a Litvish Dorf Nit Veit' (In a Lithuanian Village Not Far Away), etc. This last song is about a Jewish lad, Yosele, whose mother leaves him amongst gentiles so that possibly perhaps he would remain alive. Yosele, though doesn't want to stay there but his mother rocks him to sleep in her arms, like once upon a time at home, and she leaves him, asleep. It's worthwhile to quote at least the beginning of this song about Yosele, about the thousands of Yoselech who were left in God's hands in the deathly panic.

In a Lithuanian village not far off,
Stands a house at the side.
Through a window not so large
Children look out.

Young boys with blond hair,
Girls with flaxen-braids.
And together there with them
Two dark eyes look out.

Eyes so dark, so full of charm,
And a tiny little nose,
Lips meant only for kissing
Very curly dark hair. . .

We had some very talented singers amongst us. There was one girl Rivele Bossman who used to half-sing and half-recite a song 'Khvil Tzaytn Andere' (I Want Different Times), I think she wrote it herself. She also recited a poem called 'Redelekh' (Wheels) about A.E.G. and the slaves. Another fine singer was Izirele Lipovska from Vilnius. Leah Vopnik used to sing 'Eli, Eli' (My God, My God). When she got to the words: 'In fire aflame they burnt us' it could be seen that she had experienced such in her life, on her own skin.

During the night shift we would sometimes put a stolen potato into the machine to roast them, instead of a cable. True, the potato afterwards smelled of rubber, but who cares? We relished it.

This is how the days passed without interruption. But once I had an ear ache and I couldn't stand it any more so I was sent to a doctor in Kaiserwald. The doctor examined my ear and I was preparing to go back to the factory when I saw Yashe Maggid through the window. He was recuperating that time from a broken leg, so he sent out to me, with a young boy, Menashke, 20 marks, so that on my way back to the factory I could buy some bread in the precinct. (This is how Yashe Yaggid broke his leg: When he was being punished, he tried to avoid a blow, so he jumped out of a window and broke his leg.) A girl, Mary Shapiro, tossed me a towel with a few torn black socks, and I went up onto the auto. When I was already in the auto another woman tossed me a loaf of bread and shouted that in the loaf there is a note saying for whom the bread was meant, and other notes for women she knew in the A.E.G.



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