Oral History

Bella Jakubowicz Tovey describes a British soldier's visit while she was hospitalized in Bergen-Belsen after liberation

Bella was the oldest of four children born to a Jewish family in Sosnowiec. Her father owned a knitting factory. After the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, they took over the factory. The family's furniture was given to a German woman. Bella was forced to work in a factory in the Sosnowiec ghetto in 1941. At the end of 1942 the family was deported to the Bedzin ghetto. Bella was deported to the Graeben subcamp of Gross-Rosen in 1943 and to Bergen-Belsen in 1944. She was liberated in April 1945.


I want you to know that when the war ended, I...I weighed the equivalent of probably what is 70 pounds, and I was skin and bone. And I do remember that when that British soldier came, and asked me...he said he's...can he do something for me? And I said to him, "I'd like two things." I'd like him to give me...bring me warm socks. We're talking, this was already May. It was warm. I was cold. I wanted warm socks, knee-length socks. And I wanted sugar. So he brought me...I was craving sugar, I suppose. He brought me socks and I do remember two things. I remember when he...that I put on the socks and I started to cry because I didn't have any calf. I was all bones and this...the knee-length socks wouldn't stay on. But I also remember that when he gave me the sugar, and it may not have been more than maybe a quarter of a pound maybe, a little bag of sugar, but it was maybe, as I said, sugar, just plain sugar. I took that bag and I just poured it into my mouth. I just ate it like that. And I remember...I remember it because he got scared, and he ran out looking for the nurses because he thought God knows what I did to myself by eating all this sugar. And I remember the nurse said to him in German that it's okay. I was probably just craving sugar.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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