USF Libraries | Special & Digital Collections | Exhibits

July 8, 1943 to August 9, 1944

On the 8th of July 1943, I was again separated from my mother. I was driven 280 kilometers from the Ghetto to go to work. This was hell. During this period, the Kaiserwald Concentration camp was built and the Ghetto destroyed. On the 2nd of November 1943, the last mass murder was carried out in Riga ghetto. 2000 people were sent to the gas chambers. Children were torn from their mothers’ arms, parents taken from their children, husbands from their wives, wives from their husbands, brothers from their sisters. This was the worst day ever in the ghetto. Those who remained alive did so by hiding under floorboards, or in between walls. And so the entire Ghetto was emptied. With great fear, and completely depressed, we marched until the 6th of August 1944.Three days before the Russians came, the woman’s heads were shaven and we were given prisoners uniforms. Then we were loaded onto a large ship at Riga’s harbor. We sailed for three days and nights. Traveling toward our destiny. On August 9th, 1943 [1944], we arrived at Danzig harbor. We marched 30 kilometers to the Stutthof Concentration camp. There we learned about a new hell. Roll call after roll call. Hardly any food or water. In the tropical heat, we were required to stand straight as candles.

The crematories’ chimneys were blood red and belched smoke around the clock, endlessly. Rifle fire could be heard through the camp. Here too, we were spared. After four weeks, we were taken by ship to Poland.

We remained alive with 50 grams of bread, and some soup made from half a potato. That night 60 women slept together, on straw, in a round cell. We were like sardines in a can. We had no light, so we made a candle out of a half of a potato and some margarine.

None of us were spared from the lice.

At four o’clock in the morning we were awakened. A half hour later was roll call. This one lasted one hour. With a shovel on our backs, we marched for kilometers in the tropical heat. We marched through plains and meadows. When we arrived at our work site, we were separated. Each of us was ordered to dig 6 cubic meters of dirt. We didn’t know from where we were expected to get our strength. But we wanted to live. We worked like this for six months. We were digging trenches for the Panzer tanks to drive in.