web analytics
August 29, 2015 / 14 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


To the Death Camps in a Pink Knit Dress

On July 1, 1944, my grandmother traveled to Mauthausen and then to Bergen Belsen wearing high-heeled shoes and a fancy pink knit dress.
pink dress

As a young child, I spent much time with Saba and Savta, my maternal grandparents, both Holocaust survivors. Visits with Saba and Savta often entailed a dinnertime meal consisting of goulash while sitting on Savta’s bed watching I Love Lucy reruns on their 13-inch television screen. As these visits frequently turned into sleepovers, I would often say to Savta at bedtime, “Tell me stories.” Usually, I was very specific about the time period in Savta’s life from which I wanted her to recall such stories – the Holocaust.

Although I was just five years old when these inquiries began, Savta had a way of telling me her stories without frightening me, but also without shedding the integrity of what actually happened to her.

On several occasions, Savta told me about the time she and her half-sister, Erna, were taken to “a camp” with about 1,000 other women, their bodies stripped of all their clothes and heads shaven. For an entire day, the women waited, staring at the shower heads. “Will it be gas or water?” Erna warned Savta to hold her hands tightly because “when everyone is naked and without hair, everyone looks the same,” Savta would explain.

For years, I wanted to hear this story and others. Each time, I listened as though I had never heard it before. When I entered high school and college, I became preoccupied with the pressure of doing well in school and I felt complacent with the naïve assumption that Saba and Savta could always be reached if I wanted to hear their life story. While I hate to admit it, my interest in Holocaust remembrance grew meager even in college despite the various school-wide events planned for memorializing the Shoah.

I realize now that the passivity of my adolescent and emerging adult years was completely unacceptable, especially for a granddaughter of two survivors. I suppose this realization was a natural consequence of growing up and, in turn, watching Saba and Savta get older as well.

So, I became more conscious of the importance of Holocaust memory. Well, consciousness is nice, but unless it gets translated into active commemoration, then what is there to preserve that consciousness in future generations? And so my exploration began, the inquiries of my childhood returned.

This past March 15, I visited Savta so that we could be together in celebration of her 88th birthday. I initially did not plan to conduct an interview about her experiences on her birthday. Making Savta recall horrific memories on a traditionally happy day seemed incongruous. But somehow, as Savta and I sat together in her kitchen reading the birthday card I made for her, I felt compelled to get her story – everything – right then and there. And I did.

We sat for several hours as she relayed everything that happened to her from the time the Germans invaded Budapest until the day she was liberated from Bergen Belsen. She shared the details of her multiple aliases, escapes, near-death experiences, her sense of fear and emotional numbness throughout, her courageousness and faith in God during the most trying of times.

Savta’s personal account of the Holocaust is transcribed on my PC in the format of a third-person narrative containing many direct quotes and details that even include descriptions of the outfit and shoes she wore on July 1, 1944 as she traveled to the Kastner train which took her to Mauthausen and then to Bergen Belsen. And yes, the details of even an outfit are important to the overall story. In Savta’s case, she had been wearing high-heeled shoes and a fancy pink knit dress, an attempt to look like a sophisticated Hungarian gentile on her way to the shul in Buda where all passengers for the Kastner train were gathered. Savta had to dress this way because she had decided to travel to Buda without wearing the yellow star. A Jew caught on the street without donning the yellow star was instantly killed, Savta explained to me. On the other hand, wearing the yellow star obviously called attention to one’s Jewishness, which was in and of itself punishable by death. Feigning the appearance of a sophisticated gentile was the safest bet if she wanted to make it to Buda alive. And therein lays the importance of recounting such details as the style of the clothing worn on a particular day.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “To the Death Camps in a Pink Knit Dress”

  1. Jessie D'angelo says:

    I love the high heels and the dress.

  2. Yehuda Cohen says:

    IMO this is still happening and not only with dressing up like gentiles but in actual Israeli government laws and military actions demanded by the gentile countries in belief (aka lack of faith in HaShem's protection) that the gentiles/Arabs will not attack us.

  3. The lovely dress is part of the story. LET US REMEMBER ALL THE DETAJLS.

  4. Vivien Orbach-Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I hope you are well!

  5. come to play with me

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Former Arkansas Governor and current presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee in Jerusalem.
Official PA Media Calls Huckabee ‘Inane Creature’ and ‘Wicked Man’
Latest Indepth Stories
Ben Cohen

Corbyn leading the Britain’s Labour Party polls, describes Hamas & Hizbullah as England’s “friends.”

PA Chairman Abbas proudly celebrating with released terrorists.

The convicted murderer was released from Israeli prison with more than two dozen other sociopaths

New Israel Fund

JCF is a donor/supporter of The New Israel Fund which supports BDS & wants IDF soldiers prosecuted

Moshe Feiglin

The ‘Peace Industry’ promotes its adherents; weak leaders, both military & political, is the result

The conundrum for US Labor Zionists: Lobbying for Iran deal while Israel’s Left lobby’s against it.

What does the Torah want from our small nation described as “they who struggle with God & with men”?

Mr. Nadler’s support for the deal is a naked political gift to a president who has defied logic in his quest to reinvent international affairs according to his ideological inclinations.

In practical terms, the proclamation surely makes a compelling argument:

BDS activists are not shy about discriminating against Israelis simply because they are Israelis –

A Federal Ct Judge ordered the PA to post JUST $10 million due to interfering letter from State Dept

Osakwe, like many other students at the CAMERA conference, described an extremely hostile campus environment when it comes to the issue of Israel.

Many people view a letter or manuscript by a chassidic rebbe or the Chofetz Chaim as intrinsically holy.

Key Iran Lobby figures had been major donors to both Biden and Kerry when they were in the Senate,

Abbas’ resignation has now sparked speculation about who will fill his place if and ‎when he leaves

More Articles from Kate Rosenblatt
pink dress

On July 1, 1944, my grandmother traveled to Mauthausen and then to Bergen Belsen wearing high-heeled shoes and a fancy pink knit dress.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/personal/to-the-death-camps-in-a-pink-knit-dress/2013/04/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: