Oral History

Cecilie Klein-Pollack describes arrival at Auschwitz

Cecilie was the youngest of six children born to a religious, middle-class Jewish family. In 1939, Hungary occupied Cecilie's area of Czechoslovakia. Members of her family were imprisoned. The Germans occupied Hungary in 1944. Cecilie and her family had to move into a ghetto in Huszt and were later deported to Auschwitz. Cecilie and her sister were chosen for forced labor; the rest of her family was gassed upon arrival. Cecilie was transferred to several other camps, where she labored in factories. Allied forces liberated her in 1945. After the war she was reunited with and married her fiance.


They marched us to a huge building which had shower caps, and we were told to undress, and I was always, I was young and vain, and I dressed in my best clothes, my nice coat, my, my best dress, so I put it nicely together when I, when I undressed, and there comes over this Kapo, and she flings it to the side, and I say, "This is my clothes." She said, "Yes, but you won't need it anymore," and, and I was terribly scared because I didn't know what that meant. Then when we were undressed, we were ordered, everybody was ordered to stand up on a stool, and they shaved us, they shaved our hair, and the private parts, and we looked, we couldn't even recognize each other once we were stripped, not only of our clothes, but of our hair. Then we were shoved into those, um, showers, and they first opened the hot water, so we were scalded and as we ran out from under the hot water, we were beaten back by the SS and by the Kapos to go under the showers again, so they opened the ice cold water, which had the same effect, and finally we were out of this shower. Each of us was given one garment, which, of course, didn't fit. Some got small, that was too small, some got that was too large. We didn't get, receive not even underwear or brassieres or panties, just that one dress.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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