Oral History

Ruth Webber describes escaping from a selection held in the Auschwitz infirmary

Ruth was four years old when the Germans invaded Poland and occupied Ostrowiec. Her family was forced into a ghetto. Germans took over her father's photography business, although he was allowed to continue working outside the ghetto. Before the ghetto was liquidated, Ruth's parents sent her sister into hiding, and managed to get work at a labor camp outside the ghetto. Ruth also went into hiding, either in nearby woods or within the camp itself. When the camp was liquidated, Ruth's parents were split up. Ruth was sent to several concentration camps before eventually being deported to Auschwitz. When Ruth became sick, she was sent to the camp infirmary, managing to escape just before a selection. After the war, Ruth lived in an orphanage in Krakow until she was reunited with her mother.


One of the selections that were going on, I was hidden with other children in a, uh, hole in the, uh, in the ground where they kept potatoes, right off the kitchen. And, uh, we were there, uh, up until the point when they were, uh, putting the people on the trucks already, the selections have been made. And somebody must have, uh, saw us going in there, and they had told, uh, one of the Germans. And there was potatoes lying over us so we were actually hidden, but somebody told him exactly where we are, so he came up and he, uh, uncovered us, he pulled up all these potatoes away, and he looked at us--there was a few of us there--and he said, uh, he was there with his handgun, and he said, "Stay here. It's not safe for you to come out yet." I, I, I guess he had enough people for this particular transport, so he had a change of heart and he decided to leave us there. We were children so we ran out. My mother was working in the kitchen peeling potatoes and she saw me coming, so a couple of the ladies and my mother grabbed me and put me into a barrel with sauerkraut in it, until the trucks were pulled away. And, uh, I was saved that time.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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