Experiences Before Being Arrested

Arrival at Auschwitz

Three Months at Auschwitz

Transfer to Geislingen

Surviving by the Mercy of Others

Sent to Allach and Liberation by US Forces

2. Charlotte saves her sister

1. Arrival at Auschwitz

First Encounter with Dr. Josef Mengele at Auschwitz

Second Run In with Dr. Mengele

Liberation by the American Army


Charlotte Weiss is a Holocaust survivor. First, she was put into a ghetto in Mátészalka [Annotator's Note: in Hungary], then in concentration camps in Auschwitz, and Geislingen an der Steige, then Allach near Dachau. Her life was in danger every day. Weiss was born in Czechoslovakia. Her parents had a farm and they lived on it. She is one of five girls. She also had a little brother. Life was good. Czechoslovakia was a democratic country. They lived like everyone else and everyone enjoyed their lives. Weiss never went to school because it was stopped when the Hungarians made a pact with the Germans. They were thrown out of school and were made to wear a yellow Star of David on their sleeves. Jewish businesses were closed up and the men were sent into work camps. A lot of bad things began to happen. Girls were afraid to go out because they were afraid of being raped; people were beaten. Weiss was about 13 or 14 years old when things started going badly for the Jews. Everyone was required to have citizenship papers. All of the Jews who did not have papers were sent to Auschwitz right away. Weiss had an aunt with three children. The Germans picked her up and took her to Poland and by practically a miracle, she returned with her children. The children were in rough shape. Weiss's mother took them in and she was worried about food, but there was not much food left anyways. It was difficult to sustain, since Jews could not get jobs. They stayed with Weiss for about three weeks until the Hungarian police found out that they were hiding there. She was taken away and never seen from again. Before she left, the aunt told grim stories about the state of Poland. A lot of Jews were being sent to the camps. Weiss stayed home until 1944. Weiss's father was able to procure citizenship papers through his wealth in Budapest. He was able to prove to the Hungarians and the Germans that they were citizens. They let them stay until 1944, then the problems started. The Hungarians and the Germans came into their house and told them to pack their things and get out. It was the day after Passover. That was their last Passover ever as a family. Some of the soldiers informed them that they did not need to bring items from their home, because they were never going to come back again. They took them to another place, it was also like a big farm. All of the Jews who were staying at home in 1944 were there. They were told to fork over all of their money and gold. They gave them the last few dollars they had. There was one man who had been a dentist; he had a girl who was two and a half years old. He gave the child to a family that was not Jewish. Someone told the Nazis he had given away the child. The Nazis proceeded to beat him. Another neighbor had given another family money to watch their child. When the man came back he found out that they had poisoned the child. The man was so upset that he went crazy.


[Annotator's Note: Charlotte Weiss is a Czechoslovakian born Jew who survived incarceration in a number of concentration camps including Auschwitz.] They were there for almost a full night. The Germans told them to line up and go to the train. They proceeded to go into the trains. They were cattle trains that fit about 80 to 100 people per car. There was nothing to eat, little water, and a bucket to go to the bathroom in. There was no room to stand up; children were crying because their mothers could not feed them. They finally reached Auschwitz. They were standing and sitting. Weiss's mother looked out through the doors and saw the smoke coming out of the chimneys. She said, I didn't know that they had crematoriums. Weiss's mother was an intelligent woman and she knew that the end was near. When they stopped, Weiss saw the most terrible sights. The Germans started yelling for everyone to get out of the car. Weiss is not going to ever forget what she saw at Auschwitz. People were falling out of the train. People were crying. Weiss saw mountains of eyeglasses, shoes and clothes. They were shaking, because they knew the end was not going to be good. They saw the chimney pouring out smoke and smelled burning flesh, a terrible stench from the burning Jews. They were screaming at the people to go into different lines. Some people were told to go to the left, some to the right. Trucks were ready to pick up the old and the children. They were informed that they were going to get more bread. Weiss and her four sisters approached a man who turned out to be Dr. Josef Mengele. Weiss is not sure if he had a heart. He did not appear human to Weiss. He looked like an animal that was ready to kill the world. Weiss walked towards him. Dr Mengele had a finger that would determine who would live and who would die. He pointed to the left or to the right. Weiss and her sisters went to the right which meant life. Their mother and little brother were told to go to the left. Weiss's little sister Rosalie was also told to go to the left. She knew something was wrong, so she let her mother's hand go and when Dr. Mengele was looking away she ran over to Weiss and their three sisters. This was the first time that she saved her own life. When Rosalie came to Weiss's line she was very happy. They stood on the right side until the Germans told them to go. They were led to a big open area. They were told to undress. They were all very hesitant to undress because they were young girls. They were beating people who refused to undress. They undressed and were absolutely dehumanized. They were herded into a room where men shaved their bodies and disinfectant was sprayed on them. Weiss did not recognize her sisters because from the back they all looked the same. Weiss had to look in her sisters' faces in order to tell who they were. The Germans handed them a striped dress and a pair of shoes. They were hungry and thirsty. Weiss recalls drinking runoff rainwater from the roof.


[Annotator's Note: Charlotte Weiss is a Czechoslovakian born Jew who survived incarceration in a number of concentration camps including Auschwitz.] The first time they were taken to the ghetto, they were taken to a cemetery first. They stayed there for three days. The Germans gave them just a little bit of water. They stayed outside for three days and nights. There were about 100 people crammed into an attic in the ghetto. At Auschwitz, they were led into Barrack Number 14. Weiss was given a number, 20632, which Weiss will never forget. The number was put on her uniform. The barrack was crammed with wooden bunks; there was not enough room. There was one blanket for everyone. At five o'clock in the morning they had to call roll. The Germans would count them over and over. They huddled together when the SS did not see because they were so cold. They were allowed to go back after standing outside for a few hours. They always kept an eye on them. There were girls there from Slovakia who were there for a few years already. They told the newcomers the truth about the chimneys and the crematoriums. They could not believe that they were killing masses of people. They killed other people besides Jews as well. During the day they let them out. They could not stand the smell of the smoke. They were afraid every night; they lived in constant fear. In the morning they got black coffee and a small piece of bread that was made with wood shavings. They were in Auschwitz for three months. They did work in the fields. When it was warm, Weiss was glad. Weiss laid down on the ground one time and went to sleep outside. They were always in fear looking at the smoke. During the three months they were in Auschwitz there was always selections. Weiss's sister Rosalie was chosen to go into another line during a selection. Mengele thought she was too thin and too weak to work anywhere. Weiss kept an eye on her sister, Rosalie. When Weiss saw she was in a different line she knew what that meant. When Mengele wasn't looking, Weiss snuck out of the line and shuffled Rosalie back to the other line. Weiss pinched her cheeks to made her look healthy. She warned Rosalie to not look at Mengele. There was another time when Mengele had another selection. They were undressed again. Weiss was chosen to go into a transport with her three sisters, but not Rosalie. He told Rosalie to step aside. There were a lot of people in one of the rooms that Rosalie had to go in. Rosalie was jumping up and down, biting her hands, screaming for her sister to not leave her. Weiss ran up to Dr. Mengele and her three sisters followed her. Weiss begged for Rosalie's life. This man was unapproachable. He was a monster. She doesn't know where her strength came from. Mengele obliged and allowed all five sisters to stay at Auschwitz.


Mengele [Annotator's Note: Dr. Josef Mengele] told Charlotte Weiss that Rosalie was not strong enough to go on a transport. The five of them went to the train station where people who were strong enough to work were waiting to go. A girl from Slovakia witnessed what had happened with Weiss and let Rosalie out. They were standing near the train waiting to go. Weiss saw Rosalie running like wild looking for her sisters. Weiss yelled to Rosalie and they all came back together. They were shaking and scared. Rosalie was now in the correct line. Mengele was counting them all again, they were scared. Weiss told Rosalie to stand on her tip toes and look healthy. Weiss pinched her cheeks. Weiss told Rosalie to look away when Dr. Mengele passed. All five were again on the train. Weiss believes that there must have been a God. The destination was Geislingen. They were telling people there to be careful. They arrived at another concentration camp but there were no crematoriums. A couple of women on the train were pregnant and they were sent back to Auschwitz. The Germans told them they were going to work in an ammunition factory making airplane parts. One morning they were all told to be ready and they were going to be transported to the factory. They lined up and walked to the factory. It was a half an hour walk. They were assigned to different jobs in the factory. They worked in a room where the temperature had to be even. There was a German man there who was teaching them how to work. He was the kindest man in the world. Weiss lost belief in humanity, but this man gave her the belief back that there were good people in the world. His name was Adolf Schultz. He was assigned to them. Weiss tried to locate Mr. Schultz later in life but she could not find him. Schultz looked at Rosalie told her that he had a daughter her age. The Germans were losing the war at this point and a lot of Germans were beginning to doubt Hitler. Every day Schultz brought Rosalie a slice of bread, which meant life for someone in a camp. The conditions were better in the factory than in the camp. They worked 12 hours on and 12 hours off in the factory. They had some soup that was good. The quality of the food was better as well. Weiss and another sister had the night shift and two of their sisters had the day shift. Weiss figured out a way to hide food for her sisters in the day shift. Mr. Schultz gave them a key to a cabinet where they could hide things.


Schultz gave Charlotte Weiss the key and she was able to put soup and bread in there. They gave them bread. They would put the food in there just in case so they would have a supply of food. They accumulated five pieces of bread and it got white. That was one of the biggest mistakes Weiss made. One day, there was a control and one of the head guys told them to take everything out of their pockets. Weiss had the key, she bent down and put it in her wooden shoe. The man came over and asked what she put in the shoe. Weiss gave the man the key. She thought the end was near for her. He gave the key to an SS woman. The SS woman came to Weiss at her workplace and asked where the key went to. She showed her the cabinet. Weiss begged Schultz to help her when they came to check out the key situation. Schultz told Weiss he would try to help her. When the SS woman saw the five pieces of bread she called Weiss a pig. She scolded Weiss saying that people are hungry yet you have a bunch of bread. Schultz went up to her and explained to her Weiss's situation. Schultz begged for her to show mercy on Weiss. She never came back. Schultz would make sure that Rosalie had some time to nap during her shift. Schultz would watch for the SS and if he saw them he would quickly wake Rosalie up. Weiss had a woman who she knew in the kitchen. The woman told her to come at night and get potatoes. Weiss would get potatoes and stuff them in her shirt. Schultz would have the potatoes cooked for Weiss, her sisters, and a few other people. One time when Weiss got the potatoes there was a control. Weiss's sister grabbed the potatoes and ran into the barracks and hid them. A man saw Weiss's sister run into the barracks with the potatoes. No one spoke up and they were saved. Weiss believed that God saved her, even though he allowed six million to die. Weiss still asks why it all happened. Her mother, aunts, uncles, and cousins were all killed. Nobody was left.


They [Annotator's Note: Charlotte Weiss and her four sisters] were in Geislingen for nine months when Mr. Schultz came up to them and told them that they were going to be taken away from there. Things were pretty good in Geislingen, they knew they were not headed for the crematoriums. When Mr. Schultz told them they would be leaving, they feared they were headed to Auschwitz. They were told to line up then headed back in the cattle trains. They were positive they were going to Auschwitz but they went to a town called Allach. It was connected to Dachau. They were let out into a field. No place to eat or sleep. They saw mountains of bodies. Weiss figured her time was up. Life was so bad that Weiss did not care if she died. All Weiss wanted was one more meal; they were so thin. Weiss yearned to die a natural death which she knew was not going to happen. Night came and they had no place to go, everyone was huddling together for warmth. Weiss was disoriented, she had lost her mind for a little bit; she did not know if it was day or night. They received very little food there. They would have died there because there were so many dead bodies. They were there for two weeks. One day they were told to line up; they entered another train. They had no idea where the train was going. The train was ride lasted two or three days. Someone opened the door when it stopped and it was American soldiers. They were screaming that the people on the train were free. The people on the train could not believe it. They hugged them and kissed their shoes. They did not know what to do, they were so happy. A lot of people died after the concentration camp, because they were not used to that much food. Rosalie ate a piece of fresh bread and she almost died; an American medic saved her. They had no place to go after the camp, but somehow they survived. Weiss found her father in Prague, he was a man of 200 pounds before the war and when Weiss saw him he was down to 80 pounds. Weiss did not recognize her father. He had been in Buchenwald. Weiss had hopes to go back to her house, but it was not to be. She was always a caring person; she still is today. She does what she can to help people. She believes in humanity still and that there are good people. Weiss hopes to God it never happens again. People should care for each other and speak out when they hear people saying nasty things.

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