CTV News | Top Stories - Breaking News - Top News Headlines
Woman born in concentration camp begs youth not to forget Holocaust
OSWIECIM, POLAND -- For Angela Orosz, life began in a concentration camp in 1944.
Between 1941 and 1945, Nazis and collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe and Nazi Germany. More than two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population were killed.
When Orosz visits the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp today, she’s troubled by the fact that she was born in a death camp. She told CTV Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme, “I thought the more times I come (back), it would get easier but it doesn't get easier.”
Auschwitz II-Birkenau is also the place where her father was murdered.
Her mother Velska was three months pregnant and when she was rounded up by the Nazis and taken to the camp. When she and her husband arrived in May 1944, she along with the Jewish people were immediately separated by gender.
The ramp they arrived on was the last time Velska saw him.
Orosz said she was constantly reminded of the word “Auschwitz” growing up.
“I knew always Auschwitz. There was no day I didn't hear that word, Auschwitz, at home,” she said, adding it was only when she was older that she fully understood the word and what had happened there.
Velska and her husband arrived in a concentration camp in May 1944
The horrifying facts trickled out over time, including how Orosz’s mother was one of four others sharing a bed. Orosz said the beds like her mother’s typically didn’t have mattresses but were made of plain straw.
“I was one pound when I was born, so therefore I didn't have any energy to cry,” Orosz said. The newborn’s inability to cry likely saved her life, her mother would go on to tell her.
“Because if I cried, then they (the Nazi guards) hear it,” she recounted. “Then they discover us and that's the end of her and me."
AFTER GIVING BIRTH, MOTHER FELT A 'FIRE' TO SURVIVE
Orosz said her mother told her that a mere three hours after giving birth, she had to be standing for the camp’s regular roll calls.
She said her mother told her it was very cold that day, but that she didn’t feel it because, after giving birth, there was a “fire” in her.
Orosz said her mother thought: “I am responsible. I have to save the baby.’”
The infant was hidden on her mother’s top bunk for six weeks. She didn’t even officially have a name until the Soviets liberated the camp exactly 75 years ago.
Orosz explained that her mother and those around her felt the baby was on living on borrowed time. “This one will be an angel -- she's going to die so let's give her the name, Angela,” she said.
But Angela, who was born in Auschwitz on December 21, 1944, fortunately proved them all wrong.
As one of the youngest survivors from the Holocaust, she has no tattoo but an indelible mark on her life that she shares for a reason – to teach the younger generations.
“Please I beg you, prove me wrong that the Holocaust won't happen again. And it's your duty to fight against (prejudice) and to speak up and to not judge people.”