Heddy Smilovic of Mukacheve, Ukraine


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First-Hand Account

From sister Heddy, as found in Shiku Smilovic's autobiographical memoir, "Buchenwald 56466":

May 30, 1944:
"It was the next day, after we arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau, when I remember seeing you (Shiku) and father across our camp; we were not sure if you recognized us without any hair and in our shabby dresses, but when we saw you and Dad waving to us, we were very happy.

Life in Auschwitz for four months was a daily cat and mouse game with Dr. Mengele. He used to come unannounced for the daily selections. Since we were skin and bone, we were certain candidates for the crematorium. We used to pad our clothes to look heavier and to apply red paint to our faces to look alive. Day in, day out, our bodies were broken up from lack of food and water. We broke out in all kinds of very painful boils. But we said to each other continuously, 'Don't give up, we are one day closer to our freedom, we have to make it, even with all the difficulties we have to endure."

That same week we were told that we were going to another camp to work. We were all given a piece of bread and some margarine and they took us to the railway station, after passing another one of Dr. Mengele's inspections. We were all happy to leave that damned place with its daily cruel killings and atmosphere...We traveled for about two days and nights and we arrived in Breslau. As we got off the cattle cars, we were each handed a pick or shovel, and we were taken for a long walk. We walked for about 6 hours till we finally reached our destination: a large wooded area with a large barn at the road. We were given the barn for living quarters without any beds or bedding, just some straw on the floors for our resting place. The fear that we were going to have to dig our own graves never left us. We were taken to the woods and told to start digging. The hole was marked out with pegs and lines drawn along the hole area. We were not told what we were digging for. When we finished the first hole, another hole was marked out and we moved over to the new markers. Suddenly, we heard this great noise and German tanks were rolling in to the hole we just finished digging. We now realized that we were building safety holes for the tanks; they later camouflaged the tanks.

The winter was very cold, our feet were frozen, but we never gave up. We wanted to survive and tell the whole world what human beings can do to other human beings. We were nothing to them. Their only goal was how to use us for work until we dropped dead. In the two months we were there, from about 1,000 that were there at the outset, only about 500 were able to work. Lots of girls died from typhus and other sicknesses. We dug holes from morning till the next night. When we finally returned to the barn, we received our pieces of bread and a soup for the day's food; nothing more till the next night. We still managed to tell some stories at night and hand out recipes and our sister Sari was always ready with a song, especially on Friday nights..."













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