Montreal woman born in Auschwitz returns to site of death camp for liberation anniversary
Published Monday, January 26, 2015 7:18PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 27, 2015 3:59PM EST
Angela Orosz was born in Auschwitz, but her earliest memory of the death camp was imprinted in her mind years later.
As a Grade 1 student in Hungary, she was asked about her birthplace in school.
“Can you imagine (having) to write down ‘Auschwitz’? I hated it,” the 70-year-old Montreal resident said. “This is how I met Auschwitz.”
Against all odds, Orosz was born in the concentration camp on Dec. 21, 1944, a bitterly cold day. Two hours after giving birth, her mother had to walk outside in the snow, without shoes, for the regular prisoner count. She left her newborn daughter on the highest bunk, not knowing if the baby would still be alive when she returned.
“If she wasn’t counted, that was the end of the story for her and me,” Orosz said in an interview with CTV News.
By some miracle, their story didn’t end there.
Orosz was a weak baby who didn’t cry, so her mother managed to keep her hidden from their Nazi captors until Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945.
Orosz was one of only two babies born in the camp who survived. Even though her mother was severely malnourished and subjected to horrendous experiments in Auschwitz, she managed to breastfeed not only her daughter, but the other infant survivor – a boy named George who now lives in Hungary.
All these decades later, Orosz is travelling to her dreaded birthplace for the first time to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
“I’m petrified,” she said. “Every centimetre, there is somebody’s blood on it.”
Orosz said she avoided travelling to Auschwitz for other milestone anniversaries. But this time, her daughter and son convinced her it was time to go.
Her daughter, who is coming along, told Orosz, “We have to go there. We have to show them what we became and what my grandmother created.”
Orosz’s mother died of cancer in 1992. Orosz believes her mother, like many other Holocaust survivors she knew, developed cancer because of the experiments they endured in Auschwitz.
Orosz, who has seven grandchildren and another one on the way, will join other Canadian Holocaust survivors in Poland Tuesday for a sombre line-up of events to commemorate the day they were freed.
Miriam Friedman Ziegler, a 79-year-old survivor from Thornhill, Ont., has also returned to Auschwitz for the first time this week. She was nine years old when the Red Army arrived and freed everyone who survived the camp.
Orosz plans to visit the barrack where her mother and other Hungarian Jews were held, although the exact place where she was born was demolished and rebuilt. She will say a prayer and light a candle.
“My mother will be there. I feel it,” she said.
With a report from CTV’s Peter Akman