Oral History

Lily Mazur Margules describes the dehumanization she felt in the Kaiserwald camp

Lily was forced into a ghetto after the Germans occupied Vilna in 1941. She was forced to work until the liquidation of the ghetto in 1943 when she was deported to the Kaiserwald camp near Riga, Latvia. From there she was sent to work in the Duenawerke labor camp. She was deported by ship across the Baltic Sea to the Stutthof camp and was taken to a nearby labor camp. Lily was liberated during a death march which ended in the town of Krumau, East Prussia, in 1945.

Transcript

And they told us right away to line up and to get undressed. Naked. Oh and you know, one, you are only a person as soon...as long as you have your clothes on. You can be a professor. You can be a doctor. You can be a scientist. You can be a shoemaker. But as long...as soon as your clothes come up and you stand naked, you are lost. You are not a human being anymore. This is what I cannot...what I cannot forgive the Germans that they...they took off our...systematically take...took away our dignity by undressing us. Many of the girls were young girls. They were virgins. They never saw their parents naked, never saw their mothers naked, but all of a sudden we...we have to go and get undressed. We were taken to...to the...to, to some place. They said that they are taking our...us to bathe, to a general bath. I remember holding my little sister by the hand and we were sharing the shower and I was saying goodbye to her because I was sure that the gas will come out any moment. And I...it was talking to her to soothe her out because she was very afraid, and I was telling her, "Don't worry. Mama...Mama is looking for us from Heaven." And we were standing there. I was just like saying
goodbye and then all of a sudden, the water appeared.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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