The Germans occupied Vilna in June 1941. In October, Rochelle and her family were confined to the Vilna ghetto, where her mother died. Her father, a Jewish council member, was killed in a camp in Estonia. When the ghetto was liquidated in 1943, Rochelle and her sister were deported--first to the Kaiserwald camp in Latvia and later to Stutthof, near Danzig. In 1945, on the sixth week of a death march that forced the sisters to protect their bare feet with rags, the Soviet army liberated them.
We didn't have any warm clothes, only that what we had on ourselves and we didn't have any shoes. We had to cover our feet with rags. And when somebody...a women died we used to take away her rags from her feet and cover our feet with...with more rags to keep our feet warm. We used take away her clothes to keep ourselves warm, to put on something else on us. While we were walking we saw some people lying on the ground. Frozen men, frozen dead. We knew that a transport of Jews went by there. We used to start out about six o'clock to walk, in the morning, six o'clock in the morning to walk, with a piece of bread and the black coffee and walk a whole day until we find a, uh, place at night where to stay. Either a barn somewhere, or a church...wherever they could find a place for us. Then they used to give us again a piece of bread and coffee and we used to go to sleep. We walked like that for six weeks. We weren't allowed to...to bend over to take some snow to wet our lips. Those who did bend over to take, they were shot by the guards. Those who helped each other to walk were shot. We weren't allowed to do that either. We walked like that for six weeks.
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