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Holocaust Survivor Speaks

Discussion in 'Concentration, Death Camps and Crimes Against Huma' started by LRusso216, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

    Jan 5, 2009
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    This article was in my paper today. This survivor spoke to the students about her experiences. The middle school is in my neighborhood. Heartbreaking story.
    When she was 12, Anneliese Winterberg Nossbaum and her parents were taken from their home in Bonn, Germany, by the Nazis and forced to live in isolation with 474 others.
    Their crime? They were Jews.

    Winterberg Nossbaum was one of seven in the group to survive and today tells her story of the atrocities committed by the Nazis, and how she tried desperately to maintain her dignity in the concentration camps.

    Thursday she spoke to seventh-graders at Horsham’s Keith Valley Middle School — kids the same age as she was when her world was turned upside down at the start of World War II.

    “You would have been my classmates at the time,” she told about 100 students. “None of the boys returned. ... It was the end of my education. ... I never attended high school.

    “You think, ‘Oh great, I didn’t have to go to school.’ It’s not great.”

    Winterberg Nossbaum, 84, spoke about the murder of her father and other relatives in concentration camps; how an SS guard slammed her mother — suffering with tuberculosis — in the back with a stick for walking too slowly; and of her “initiation into maturity” when, at Auschwitz, she was undressed and had all of her hair cut off in front of the SS guards.

    “I was never a child again,” she said.

    There was no toothbrush. No feminine hygiene products and never enough food.

    “We worked 10 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Winterberg Nossbaum, who worked as a welder. “Five hundred women, no toilet during working hours. A half-hour for lunch.”

    Women took brief showers on Sundays, she said, but there were no towels to dry up with. Clothing was never washed.

    And there was the unspeakable: A 4-year-old child ripped away from her mother and gassed to death.

    But Winterberg Nossbaum refused to allow herself to break down and cry — until a small picture she kept of her father had faded away “and just became paper.” That day she cried.

    “I couldn’t allow myself to become emotional,” she said. “You sort of divert your strength ... No emotions should be shown to the Germans.”

    She said too many Jews were overcome by grief and became “living skeletons.”

    One of the things that helped her survive was sleeping next to her mother. She said quarters were really cramped and she was forced to sleep in a fetal position. “My mother’s fever from tuberculosis kept me warm.”

    Her gripping story was not lost on Keith Valley students.

    “It really stuck out to me when she said that she doesn’t go one day without thinking about the Holocaust ... and how important it was to speak with kids so they never forget,” Allison Scott said.

    Brigid O’Neill marveled at Winterberg Nossbaum’s “really great, positive attitude. ... I feel very grateful that she was able to share her story with us.”

    Jessica Shaffer called the 90-minute talk a “once-in-a-lifetime experience. ... Now that all of the Holocaust survivors are getting elderly, it’s really important that their story gets out so history doesn’t repeat itself.”

    Sarah Beltz, a seventh-grade language arts teacher, said students have been studying the Holocaust since January and, for some, the reaction is “I can’t believe this is real” and “Are you sure this happened?”

    “I felt this would be something they’d never forget.”

    Beltz said the 12- and 13-year-olds are at an appropriate age to deal with the topic. “They are very mature and able to handle it,” she said. “They really do care and want to make a difference.

    “To see someone who survived something like this will help them when they are struggling through difficult times.”

    That’s what Winterberg Nossbaum is hoping.

    “As a survivor I feel I have a duty to tell this story,” she said. “Too many people have died. Too many people have been the victim of evil, evil deeds, and this has to change in our world.

    “I’m hoping that by speaking to young people, they won’t be silent, they’ll become involved in activities that will promote harmony and friendship and more peaceful situations.”

  2. 4CommandoKid

    4CommandoKid New Member

    May 27, 2013
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    Every day, that lady has to live with what happened to her and what she saw. It's heartbreaking.

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