Oral History

Henny Fletcher Aronsen describes arrival at the Stutthof camp

Henny was born into an upper-middle-class Jewish family in Kovno, Lithuania. She and her brother attended private schools. In June 1940 the Soviets occupied Lithuania, but little seemed to change until the German invasion in June 1941. The Germans sealed off a ghetto in Kovno in August 1941. Henny and her family were forced to move into the ghetto. Henny married in the ghetto in November 1943; her dowry was a pound of sugar. She survived several roundups during which some of her friends and family were deported. Henny was herself deported to the Stutthof concentration camp in 1944, when the Germans liquidated the Kovno ghetto. She was placed in a forced-labor group. The Germans forced Henny and other prisoners on a death march as Soviet troops advanced. After Soviet troops liberated Henny in 1945, she eventually reunited with her husband and moved to the United States.


As we came to Stutthof, they told the women to get out, and they said we will meet, we'll meet up with your, uh, husbands and fathers later on. So my sister-in-law, the two of us got off the train, and, uh, I think, you know, I'm not sure if they had transportation. Yes, they had, I think, open, open trucks where we were, uh, piled in, and we were brought to Stutthof. And then we were told, of course, right away my coat was taken away, and whatever else I had, which was very little, I suppose, because, uh, I didn't have a chance to take anything with me. And I held on to my mother, and then they told us to disrobe. Uh, you know, they had always tables and young Germans sitting behind it. And they said to us, "Okay, go in in this large area and disrobe." I mean by disrobe take everything off. So here I am next to my mother, hundreds of women, and we had to be totally naked coming in in front of a desk with a bunch of young hoodlums. So what do you think in a case like that? They are creatures from some other planet. There was no planet then, but creatures from hell. Why should I bother worrying about them, what they look at me. Because how demeaning can you even feel with standing your mother and relatives and friends, I mean I didn't have relatives, my, my sister-in-law. And here you are standing totally naked, and they look at you, it's like.... So, uh, I just stood there, and they just looked at us, and then they told us to go in the back to take showers, and they gave us the uniforms, the striped uniforms, and this is how our ordeal started. And this is concentration camp.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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