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Descriptions of the death marches from survivors who experienced them and members of the US armed forces who encountered them.
Germany invaded Belgium in May 1940. After the Germans seized her mother, sister, and brother, Lilly went into hiding. With the help of friends and family, Lilly hid her Jewish identity for two years. But, in 1944, Lilly was denounced by some Belgians and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau via the Mechelen camp. After a death march from Auschwitz, Lilly was liberated at Bergen-Belsen by British forces.
Lily was forced into a ghetto after the Germans occupied Vilna in 1941. She was forced to work until the liquidation of the ghetto in 1943 when she was deported to the Kaiserwald camp near Riga, Latvia. From there she was sent to work in the Duenawerke labor camp. She was deported by ship across the Baltic Sea to the Stutthof camp and was taken to a nearby labor camp. Lily was liberated during a death march which ended in the town of Krumau, East Prussia, in 1945.
Barbara was born in the province of Arad in northern Transylvania, Romania. She went to school until the Hungarian army occupied the area in 1940 and she was no longer allowed to attend. After the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944, discrimination against Jews intensified. Barbara and her family were forced into the Oradea ghetto. She worked in the ghetto hospital until she was deported to the Auschwitz camp. At Auschwitz, she worked in the kitchens to receive extra food. She was deported to another camp, and later forced on a death march. Toward the war's end, the Red Cross rescued Barbara. She returned to Arad after World War II and worked as a biochemist.
The Germans invaded Poland in September 1939. When Makow was occupied, Sam fled to Soviet territory. He returned to Makow for provisions, but was forced to remain in the ghetto. In 1942, he was deported to Auschwitz. As the Soviet army advanced in 1944, Sam and other prisoners were sent to camps in Germany. The inmates were put on a death march early in 1945. American forces liberated Sam after he escaped during a bombing raid.
In 1939, Gerda's brother was deported for forced labor. In June 1942, Gerda's family was deported from the Bielsko ghetto. While her parents were transported to Auschwitz, Gerda was sent to the Gross-Rosen camp system, where for the remainder of the war she performed forced labor in textile factories. Gerda was liberated after a death march, wearing the ski boots her father insisted would help her to survive. She married her American liberator.
As Nazi anti-Jewish policy intensified, Kurt's family decided to leave Germany. Kurt left for the United States in 1937, but his parents were unable to leave before the outbreak of World War II. Kurt's parents were eventually deported to Auschwitz, in German-occupied Poland. In 1942, Kurt joined the United States Army and was trained in military intelligence. In Europe, he interrogated prisoners of war. In May 1945, he took part in the surrender of a village in Czechoslovakia and returned the next day to assist over 100 Jewish women who had been abandoned there during a death march. Kurt's future wife, Gerda, was one of the women in this group.
Ben was born in a small village in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania in Romania. When he was an infant, his family moved to the United States. Ben attended Harvard University, where he studied criminal law. Ben graduated from Harvard University Law School in 1943. He joined a US anti-aircraft artillery battalion that was training in preparation for an Allied invasion of western Europe. At the end of World War II in Europe, Ben was transferred to the war crimes investigation branch of the US Army. He was charged with gathering evidence against and apprehending alleged Nazi war criminals. He ultimately became chief US prosecutor in The Einsatzgruppen Case of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings.
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