Cecilie Klein-Pollack

Cecilie Klein-Pollack

Born: April 13, 1925

Yasinya, Czechoslovakia

Cecilie was the youngest of six children born to a religious Jewish family in the Czechoslovakian town of Yasinya. Her father, who was from Poland, taught private lessons in math and German. The family owned a small grocery store, which Cecilie's mother managed.

1933-39: Cecilie's father died in 1934 when she was 9. In March 1939 Hungary, which was sympathetic to Nazi Germany, annexed the area of Czechoslovakia where they lived. One day, Cecilie arrived home to find her mother and sister had been arrested and imprisoned in Budapest. Their Czech citizenship was revoked, they were reclassified as "Polish," and were informed that they were being expelled to Poland. Cecilie's mother was able to beg successfully for a six-month extension for herself, Cecilie, and one of Cecilie's sisters.

1940-44: They remained in Hungary, concealing their identities. In March 1944 the Germans occupied Hungary and they were deported with the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. On arriving, Cecilie and her sister were ordered to undress and their clothes were taken. They were shaved from head to toe, herded into showers and blasted by scalding and then freezing water. Then they were thrown rags to wear. Outside there was smoke and a vile smell in the air. They were told, "There are your mothers, sisters and fathers. They are burning them."

In the winter of 1944, Cecilie was deported from Auschwitz to the first of several labor camps. She was liberated by the Soviet army in the spring of 1945.