Madeline was born into a middle class family in an area of Czechoslovakia that was annexed by Hungary in 1938-1939. Her father worked out of their home and her mother was a homemaker. Madeline attended high school. In April 1944 her family was forced into a Hungarian ghetto. The family lived in the ghetto for two weeks before being transported to Auschwitz. Madeline and her mother were separated from her father and older brother. Neither her father nor brother survived the war. A week after arriving in Auschwitz, Madeline and her mother were sent to work in an ammunition factory in Breslau. They were in the Peterswaldau subcamp of Gross-Rosen for one year until liberation by Soviet forces in May 1945. Madeline and her mother lived in a displaced persons camp in Munich while awaiting visas to the United States. They arrived in New York in March 1949.
I was 18, but I was, in fact, only 13 because those years were nothing. Those were erased from my life. So I was 13 year old in a 18-year old girl's body. And I didn't know anything. I was a frightened little girl. I could not communicate with anybody except the immediate family--my mother's sister and brother-in-law and their son, their only son. And then we went to New York, again, my mother's aunt and her cousins. I...I couldn't go out to the street. I was petrified. I was afraid that the Nazis are still out there. I was having nightmares for years and years. For many years, I was still reliving everything. The trip to Auschwitz, the...the beatings, the killings, the dead people that were taken off the train, the...the beatings and the...and the dogs that were, uh, released and ju... jump on the people and...and tear them apart. I lived with this. Years and years. I still live with it, but I don't have these horrible nightmares anymore except occasionally. After a day like, for example, today I'm sure I'll have some of it. But this was for years. And it was a horrible, horrible thing.