Ruth Freund Reiser

Ruth Freund Reiser

Born: April 11, 1926

Prague, Czechoslovakia

Ruth was a child of middle-class Jewish parents living in Czechoslovakia's capital, Prague, where her father worked as a bank clerk. As native Czechs, her parents considered themselves as much Czech as Jewish. In 1933 Ruth was in her second year at a public girls' secondary school.

1933-39: The Germans occupied Prague in March 1939 and imposed many restrictions. Jews were no longer allowed to attend school, so Ruth's education stopped at age 13. Jews had to surrender many of their possessions such as radios, bicycles, musical instruments, and pets. They weren't allowed to walk in certain streets, or to go to a park or a cinema, or use a bus or a street car. For Ruth, normal life was at an end.

1940-44: Ruth was deported to Auschwitz from the Theresienstadt ghetto in late 1944. Some weeks later she was selected for a labor transport. Wanting to be sure she'd get out of Auschwitz, she managed to stand near the front of the column of 1,000 women. Then a command of "Turn about!" dashed her hopes. She ended up at the back of the line with those to be gassed. Nobody slept that night as, expecting to be gassed, they waited in front of the crematorium. By a twist of fate, the next day Ruth was put on another labor transport.

Ruth was deported to Lenzing, a subcamp of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Liberated by American troops, Ruth returned to Prague. She was the sole survivor of her family.

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