Oral History

Doris Greenberg describes arrival procedures at Ravensbrück

The Germans invaded Poland in 1939 and established a ghetto in Warsaw in 1940. After her parents were deported, Doris hid with her sister and other relatives. Doris's sister and an uncle were killed, and she learned that her parents had been killed. Her grandmother committed suicide. Doris was smuggled out of the ghetto and lived as a non-Jewish maid and cook, but was ultimately deported to the Ravensbrück camp. Upon arrival there, Doris and her friend Pepi contemplated swallowing poison, but decided against it.


And when we went to the baths, we really expected to die. We really did, and we said, well, we could have taken the poison but it's gone and it probably won't take longer with uh being gassed. Well, we were very surprised when water came. And, uh, we...we really got a shower. There was even this grey soap that looked like pumice stone but a little softer, but it was not gas. So we took the showers and we went out on the other end of the building and we were given the striped uniforms. And then I understood why we wanted to take the poison before we went in. Because each group that went in ahead of us, we never saw them coming out. We didn't recognize them. They were shaved and wearing stripes. So then when we got stripes... And we're getting sizes that are impossible. The big person would get a tiny dress. A ti..tiny person would get a big dress. But we came out alive. And we had our numbers and a triangle, and we were assigned to barracks. When we came into the barracks, we saw on the wall Jewish writing, names, messages...many of it in Yiddish which I couldn't read, but Pepi could and she told me they were names. She read them to me and I, I could understand. I just couldn't read or write, and she told me there were messages, very, very heartbreaking messages and names of the people..."we...we were here, we're the last...tell others to remember us." It was very sad.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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