Oral History

Fritzie Weiss Fritzshall describes receiving help from a prisoner in the "Kanada" detail upon arrival at Auschwitz

Fritzie's father immigrated to the United States, but by the time he could bring his family over, war had begun and Fritzie's mother feared attacks on transatlantic shipping. Fritzie, her mother, and two brothers were eventually sent to Auschwitz. Her mother and brothers died. Fritzie survived by pretending to be older than her age and thus a stronger worker. On a death march from Auschwitz, Fritzie ran into a forest, where she was later liberated.


The train arrived in the middle of the night, so we were greeted by very bright lights shining down on us. We were greeted by soldiers, SS men, as well as women. We were greeted by dogs and whips, by shouting and screaming, orders to try to empty the train, by confusion, and by men in striped uniform. We didn't know it at the time, but the men in uniform were the Jews who were brought there before us, they were called "Kanada," which I found out later. Their job was to empty the train. One of those men saved my life, that was the first. When they had asked us to empty the trains, these men would come onto the compartment of the train and they would try and push and pull us off the train as fast as they could. These men were not allowed to speak to us, but in their own way they tried to help young people. They walked amongst us and in Yiddish would whisper to a child, "you're fifteen, remember you're fifteen." When we got off the train, they asked us to line up according to age. I lined up and I became fifteen years old. I lined up with the fifteen year-olds and I truly believe that that man whoever he was, saved my life.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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