Oral History

Gerda Weissmann Klein describes the Bolkenhain subcamp of Gross-Rosen and a camp leader there

In 1939, Gerda's brother was deported for forced labor. In June 1942, Gerda's family was deported from the Bielsko ghetto. While her parents were transported to Auschwitz, Gerda was sent to the Gross-Rosen camp system, where for the remainder of the war she performed forced labor in textile factories. Gerda was liberated after a death march, wearing the ski boots her father insisted would help her to survive. She married her American liberator.


They needed German-speaking people to be trained, so he bought all of us for a place called Bolkenhain which was a new weaving camp in Oberschlesien [Upper Silesia]. And in fact this is where we went. In all fairness I must say that uh that camp was probably better than than most of certainly what followed because it was new. You see, we were only fifty girls there. And the person who became our lagerfuehrerin [camp leader], at first sight she looked like a bulldog and then I thought she's going to tear us limb from limb, and she was a very kind person. She was probably chosen for her looks but we all who were in captivity under her owe her a debt of gratitude. And I think by her very decency she pinned a lie to the lips of all who said they had no choice. I won't say she particularly loved us. She saved my life once for which I'll be eternally grateful. There was as far as I know, and I do know, that as long as we were there, and later in a place called Landeshut where she also was, nobody was sent to Auschwitz from our camp, from those two camps. And uh she showed that people could help individually and she did. I only met, during my entire years under the Nazis for six years, I only met two who were really kind and I think that they should be singled out for that. Frau..her name was Frau Kuegler.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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