She says her luck was being deported to Auschwitz…
Halina Birnbaum was born in 1929 in Warsaw, Poland
When she was 10 years old, the war broke out, and her whole life collapsed before her eyes.
Then transferred to two concentration camps, Maidanek and Auschwitz.
She says her luck was being transferred to Auschwitz.
At Maidanek, she was sent to the gas chambers. She stayed there for several minutes. knowing exactly what was going to happen to her. But that night, the Nazis ran out of gas and she remained alive. The next day she was deported to Auschwitz.
Halina credits her mother for her surviving the war. Her mother knew that children had little chance of surviving the selection lines at the concentration camps, So she took a pair of high-heeled shoes from a woman who had not survived the train ride to the camp and gave them to Halina. She ordered her daughter to never remove the shows in order to appear older. Halina listened to her mother’s demand and the shoes accompanied Haline throughout the war.
Halina told us that she started talking about the Holocaust only after Eichman’s trial. Before that, the Shoah was a taboo subject, nobody wanted to talk. The only goal was to live and to have a family.
One of the amazing things about Halina is that she is still telling her story today.
We are part of the last generation to be able to hear the stories of Holocaust survivors first hand. We need to take advantage of it. Ask questions. Document their answers. Spread the word.