Oral History

Ruth Webber describes her mother's efforts to ensure her children's survival

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.


Well, when I was with her she was always pointing out the way that, uh, I could hide, or do certain things like go behind her when there might be shooting so I would not be shot. Uh, I think the, the stories and the pleasant, uh, memories that she kept telling me to, to keep me sane, because life was so cruel around me, uh, there was so much constant death and pain and, and, and suffering, uh, that she was trying to put little bits of good in my mind. I should, uh, not dwell on what is going around around me. By giving up of her food, constantly, making me believe that she's never hungry and never needs anything. By the way my mother was fasting two days a week in camp--not that she needed to do it--but she actually did not have any water or food. It was something that she promised herself to do so we should survive. My mother was a religious--is and was a religious woman, and she felt if she gives up food twice a week that her children will survive. And we did. So, uh, my mother's very, was a very, very strong woman to have been able to do the things that she had done to protect me, and to always be next to me, and, uh, just give me this, this extra little bit of, of, uh, desire to survive. That there is a better day, that there's, that things will be okay tomorrow, to just get through today.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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