Oral History

Cecilie Klein-Pollack describes mother's actions to save Cecilie's sister's life upon 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.


[My mother was told] "Listen, if you have, uh, children, then give it away to, to either older people or, or the women with children, because women and children and, uh, anybody older is going to be killed. They are killing the same, uh, night, the same day. There is no chance...chance for these people to survive." I couldn't even believe it. And my mother had the presence of mind to, as soon as she heard that--she didn't know, this was my mother--when this man said it.... She ran down with me, and...and I ran after her, and she goes over to my sister, and, and she has the presence of mind to tell her, "Listen, darling, I just found out that women and children will have it very easy. All they will, all they are going to do is take care, is take care of the children. But, and, and if I don't have a child, then they will send me in hard labor. And you know I will never survive hard labor. But you are young, and you'll be able to survive." And before she has a chance to even, you know, to, before my sister had a chance, you know, to not to give the child, my mother moved the child from her arms. And, and, and as soon as she removed...she had the child in her arms, she was pushed to this other side, you know, with all the women and children. And me and my sister were, were pushed to the other side. And my mother still yelled out, she yelled out to me, not to my..."Celeke, take care of your sister!" Because she knew, she knew what my sister will suffer when she'll find out where she took her grandson.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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