Oral History

Ruth Meyerowitz describes surviving a selection for the gas chamber

In Frankfurt, Ruth's family faced intensifying anti-Jewish measures; her father's business was taken over and Ruth's Jewish school was closed. In April 1943, Ruth and her family were deported to Auschwitz. Ruth was selected for forced labor and assigned to work on road repairs. She also worked in the "Kanada" unit, sorting possessions brought into the camp. In November 1944, Ruth was transferred to the Ravensbrueck camp system, in Germany. She was liberated in May 1945, during a death march from the Malchow camp.



When I came to Auschwitz, a few months later, I think almost everybody became very sick. My mother had malaria too, but she never had typhus. I was the one who came down with typhus, and I have very little memory of what went on, but my mother dressed me every morning, took me out to this "zellappell" which is the equivalent of roll call, and dragged me to work so that I wouldn't be beaten or sent into the hospital barracks which was...which was really a death barracks. So my mother dragged me around but of course I looked terrible and there was the selection for the gas chambers one time, and we were standing outside and an SS man told me to go in one direction and my mother into another because I looked so sick, and of course I was just wasting the food, this this two hundred calories worth of food that they gave us everyday. So my mother pleaded with him and said that, well, I'm her child and she, can't she come with, can't I come with her, and he said no, but if you're so concerned about your daughter, go with her. And she was just about to do this, and one of the women who was working in the barracks, I think she swept floors and whatever and maybe cleaned the chimney, the stoves, and whatever other menial work, but she had some kind of protected position whatever that was worth. She sort of grabbed me under one arm and my mother grabbed my other arm, and we managed to walk away. We were not even stopped, and I...I it was some kind of miracle that the SS man didn't notice that or... or pretended not to notice us, and just, and we just kept going and uh my life was saved that day. It was really the most amazing thing. I...I can't figure out, of course I was sick and I don't know exactly what went on, it was the excitement of the moment but my life was saved that way.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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