Blanka was an only child in a close-knit family in Lodz, Poland. Her father died in 1937. After the German invasion of Poland, Blanka and her mother remained in Lodz with Blanka's grandmother, who was unable to travel. Along with other relatives, they were forced into the Lodz ghetto in 1940. There, Blanka worked in a bakery. She and her mother later worked in a hospital in the Lodz ghetto, where they remained until late 1944 when they were deported to the Ravensbrueck camp in Germany. From Ravensbrueck, Blanka and her mother were sent to a subcamp of Sachsenhausen. Blanka was forced to work in an airplane factory (Arado-Werke). Her mother was sent to another camp. Soviet forces liberated Blanka in spring 1945. Blanka, living in abandoned houses, made her way back to Lodz. She discovered that none of her relatives, including her mother, had survived. Blanka then moved westward to Berlin, eventually to a displaced persons camp. She immigrated to the United States in 1947.
There was no sanitation. We did not have latrines. There were holes with wooden--there was a wooden board with two holes, and since many of us were sick from whatever they gave us to eat, it was a constant walk to the latrines, to the holes. It was tremendous degradation of, of human beings. It was, the human spirit suffered more than the physical spirit. Uh, the bodies didn't listen to us, didn't obey us. Uh, we had--as I mentioned before, we lost our menstruation, very thank...gratefully because we couldn't have taken care of this. It was the avitaminosis--the lack of food and vitamins. We slept two, three to a wooden, uh, bunk. The tiers in Ravensbrueck were packed with human beings. There was stench in the air, horrible stench, between the latrines and the bodies. The one who was in charge had a special little room and special privileges and special food. We, the Jews, never got close to it. The Germans who...and the Ukrainians were in charge.
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What was the context of the Holocaust and World War II at the time of the conditions Blanka describes?
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