A Brief Summary of Elizabeth Seiden's Family's Experiences
Page 1: shows Kati, Elizabeth's mother, and her sister Laura who was two years older and their parents Esther and Josef. Elizabeth was named after her grandmother Esther. When her mother was taken to Auschwitz, she never saw her parents or sister again.
Page 2: shows her father's parents and Ocsi (Imre), her father's youngest brother, and his brother, Bela Nasch.
Page 3: shows Elizabeth's father's family: his parents and the five brothers. Her father's youngest brother, Imre (the middle photo in the left column) was murdered in camp. Herci, the oldest brother, was married when the Nazis demanded that a brother be sent away, so her father's parents sent Eugene, who endured slave labor first in Siberia and then in Dachau.Nicholas, or Niki, died of starvation in Dachau in his brother Eugene's arms a few days before liberation.
Page 4: shows Elizabeth's mother Kati and cousin Lori at about 19 years old. She was so exhausted once at the 6am roll call in the camp that she fell asleep standing up. She dreamed of a time when she was lttle and her father was preparing to read her a sotry for bedtime. She dreamed that he asked her to get his glasses and so she moved to get them. When she moved in her sleep, the Nazi guard yanked her out of line and beat her mercilessly. she could not sit for weeks.
Page 6: shows Elizabeth's family's life-affirming response after the incalculable tragedy of the Holocaust: "Everyone was getting married!" The two photos in the upper left are of her parents' weedings. They met in the Kaufering concentration camp. The photo in the middle left is of the surviving cousins. below left is a photo of her Uncle samu, who survived a slave labor camp in Bucharest. Elizabeth's parents returned to settle in her grandparent's home, shown in the lower right hand photos.
Elizabeth's family comes from Transylvania. After her father's leather shop was taken from him by the Nazis, her parents were forced to live from the fruit their trees bore which they traded for their needs. They raised angora rabbits and had a cow. When they were deported to Auschwitz, her 53 year old father's hair turned white overnight because of the stress. Food for her mother at Auschwitz was a scalding barrell of water with rotting bits of cabbage in it and moldy hardened bits of bread. Each person shared a single bowl for the meal and she contracted a kind of mouth rot from burning her mouth and couldn't swallow for days. She worked in the nurse's office and learned the importance of keeping one's spirit strong. She said that she could see death in the eyes of those who despaired: "If you give up, you are dead in a few days." She kept a priest's saying "While I breathe I live" in mind to endure this time.
In October 1944, after five months in Auschwitz, she was transported to Kaufering and then to Allach concentration camp in southern Germany. In early April 1945, they were marched out of Allach. They had no shoes, only rags wrapped around their feet for protection against the snows. She remembers waking up one morning to find that all of the Nazi gaurds had fled, leaving their uniforms behind. That morning, an English office, clean-shaven and smelling of 'after-shave' and wearing creased pants and a starched shirt and tie announced their freedom and gave her chewing gum and a bar of Palmolive soap. Some of the liberated went crazy and broke into local apartments to find clothes to dress up in. Other gorged themselves on rich food and died because their systems couldn't handle the shock. Her parents found their way back to her grandparents' home and then eventually came to the US in 1961.
Unlike some, her mother never cared to remove the stigma of the tattooed number on her arm: "It's a part of who I am." Her father couldn't cry--he just "shut down" and would not talk of his experiences. She remembers that he became apprehensive if he saw someone wearing black boots. In America, her mother at first would not tell others that she was Jewish because she "didn't feel comfortable. Eventually, however, she came to realize the importance of sharing her experiences with others. Recently, before her death, she was interviewed by the Shoah project (http://www.vhf.org/vhfmain-2.htm). Elizabeth carries on this vital mission by sharing her family's experiences with classes such as ours. Through her efforts her family lives again in us.