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Fritzie's father immigrated to the United States, but by the time he could bring his family over, war had begun and Fritzie's mother feared attacks on transatlantic shipping. Fritzie, her mother, and two brothers were eventually sent to Auschwitz. Her mother and brothers died. Fritzie survived by pretending to be older than her age and thus a stronger worker. On a death march from Auschwitz, Fritzie ran into a forest, where she was later liberated.
Irene and Rene were born Renate and Rene Guttmann. The family moved to Prague shortly after the twins' birth, where they were living when the Germans occupied Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939. A few months later, uniformed Germans arrested their father. Decades later, Irene and Rene learned that he was killed at the Auschwitz camp in December 1941. Irene, Rene, and their mother were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, and later to the Auschwitz camp. At Auschwitz, the twins were separated and subjected to medical experiments. Irene and Rene remained separated for some time after their liberation from Auschwitz. The group Rescue Children brought Irene to the United States in 1947, where she was reunited with Rene in 1950.
The Germans invaded Poland in September 1939. Leo and his family were confined to a ghetto in Lodz. Leo was forced to work as a tailor in a uniform factory. The Lodz ghetto was liquidated in 1944, and Leo was deported to Auschwitz. He was then sent to the Gross-Rosen camp system for forced labor. As the Soviet army advanced, the prisoners were transferred to the Ebensee camp in Austria. The Ebensee camp was liberated in 1945.
Selma was the youngest of four children born to Jewish parents. When she was 7, Selma and her family moved to the town of Zwolle where her parents ran a small hotel. When the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, they confiscated the hotel. The family had to live in a poor Jewish section of the town. Selma went into hiding but was betrayed and then sent to the Westerbork camp. In April 1943 she was deported to Sobibor, where she worked in the clothes sorting area. There, the prisoners tried to pocket food and valuables and ruin the clothes so the Germans could not use them. Selma met her future husband, Chaim, who was helping to plan a prisoner uprising. When the revolt began, they escaped and used some money taken from the clothing to buy shelter in a barn. They left Poland after the war because of violent antisemitism, moving first to the Netherlands in 1945, then to Israel in 1951, and finally to the United States in 1957.
Browse Selma Engel's diary and other papers
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