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They experienced terrible things, survived the Shoah and came back to Geislingen 70 years later - wonderful people.

Berta Fischer, married Weiss

Chani Riger und Berta Weiss

Records of personal interviews:

“I was born and raised in the town of Rachov, then CSSR, now Ukraine. My father was the head of the Jewish community there. On the last day of Passover, all Jews were gathered in a school. From there we were taken to the Matezalka ghetto and then deported to Auschwitz. In Auschwitz my father (49 years old) and my mother (51 years old) were immediately gassed. I had never been back to Auschwitz after the war. I couldn’t.”

„In meiner Heimat, da blühen die Rosen“

The Jewish women and girls had to sing this song on their way from the concentration satellite camp to work at WMF. Berta can still sing it today.

Together with my sister Cecila, who was actually only 12 years old, I came to Geislingen to the concentration satellite camp. Berta had the prisoner number 20.405, Cecilia 20.406. With us in Geislingen there were another aunt Batia and Golda, as well as the cousin Batia Pollak née Miller. The Geislinger people saw us walking to work every day. The working hours were from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.. The shift changed every week. In Geislingen at WMF, all the German workers were very nice to us. A foreman occasionally gave my aunt something to eat. I never got anything. I made revolvers, welded them together. Spot welding. I had no personal contact with superiors. When I made the revolvers, I thought that one day they would be used to kill us.

All the Kappos were Germans, political prisoners. I was very hungry. One day a wagon came with potatoes. I picked up one or two and ate them raw. We got lice and boils because of the food. One day I got in line for the second time at the food counter. To make myself look different, I took off my headgear. But the kappo recognized me and I received “good beatings” from her. She was a communist, from her appearance and behavior you didn’t know if she was a man or a woman. A bad experience in the concentration camp in Geislingen: Once a girl was beaten in the yard who was completely naked. We all had to watch. On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement when religious Jews fast, the SS took away all our food. “If you fast, you don’t get anything.“

There were also some pregnant women. They disappeared one night and we never saw them again. One woman gave birth to her child in Geislingen. After two days the baby died. How? We do not know. I don’t know about a baby that was laid in the snow and we had to watch it freeze to death. It was better in Geislingen than in Auschwitz, so I was grateful to be there. If there was an air raid alarm while we were working at WMF, we were taken to a cellar. A nurse in the Geislingen camp, who was also a prisoner from the Sudetenland, liked Cecilia – she treated her at the Geislingen station. When we came to the concentration camp in Allach, this nurse saved her from further transport to the Alps, “to death”. In the process, I was separated from Cecilia. Cecilia was liberated in Allach. But the rest of us were not. We were loaded into wagons again, about 1000 women and 2000 men. The train went back and forth. In Staltach we were liberated. Two days before that, the SS jumped off the train. The Red Cross gave us food packages. Many died eating that. When the US Army started shelling the train, we made ourselves known to them. All the prisoners kissed the first US soldier we saw. A Jewish rabbi in the American army told us what to do. We women were placed in a farm estate and guarded by the U.S. Army so that we would not be captured by the SS, who were still hiding in the woods. We then stayed on this farm for three to four days. After that, we were taken by truck to Landsberg, where we stayed for several months in a former SS barracks. There we were given food that was manufactured, with whatever they found in Landsberg. The Russian prisoners of war went into the village and looted.

From Landsberg, the U.S. soldiers organized trucks to bring everyone home. On trucks we were first taken to Pilsen, and from there by train to Prague. We heard that there was money in Bratislava and we set out for there. In the end we went to Budapest. First of all I went to a hospital because I had red eyes. The Hungarians put us in a school there. They spread straw on the floor and we had to sleep there. We were disappointed how the Hungarians treated us. A brother of mine survived in Budapest. He was blond, lived like a Nazi and warned Jews. But he was captured but managed to escape. I had three brothers: Joseph survived in Budapest. Philipp: came to Mauthausen and died in Ebensee five days before liberation. Elieser (Alois) came to Buchenwald, he was very sick.

After the war we did not know where to go. With 800 other children, I was taken to England with my sister. I lived there for eight years. My brother went to Israel. I came to Israel in 1953. Another brother of ours went to Australia. We sisters split up. My sister went to my brother Joseph in Australia and I went to my other brother in Israel. So neither of us was alone. I was a dental technician and dental assistant. I married a man who was in the concentration camp in Vienna. He was a Hungarian Jew and survived a death march. He was a dentist, artist, painter and died eight years ago.” Berta Weiss passed away in April 2018 shortly before she was to travel to Geislingen for the dedication of the memorial.