Partial Transcript: Okay. But let's start, you know, because your family seems very interesting.
Segment Synopsis: Rittenberg describes her hometown of Bedzin, Poland, and explains that at the beginning of the war in September 1939, her parents sent her and her siblings, for the sake of their safety, to Szczecin, Poland)to stay with relatives. A few days later, she says, when the inhabitants of Szczecin began to flee as the German army approached, she was separated from her relatives and spent the next few weeks returning to her home in Bedzin, alone except for a stop along the way spent at the house of relatives. Upon her return, she says, she found out that a cousin had been killed in a synagogue that had been set on fire.
Keywords: Hassidic Jews; Hassidim; Invasion of Poland; Zionism; Zionists
Subjects: Będzin (Poland); Invasions.; Szczecin (Poland)
Map Coordinates: 53.433, 14.548
Partial Transcript: So then what happened?
Segment Synopsis: Rittenberg, after describing the occupations of her siblings, explains that from early on, some Jews were taken away in selections that took place in the town, and others were hanged in the marketplace. During this time, she says, her family faced not only the daily fear of being taken by the Germans, but also a severe food shortage, from which many in the town died. She describes a Hanukkah ritual that she eagerly undertook at the exhortation of a local Rabbi in order to hasten the coming of the Messiah. When the Germans began to take Jewish children, her parents sent her to hide in the house of an aunt who did not have children and therefore whose house was not in danger of being raided for children.
Keywords: Deportations; Food shortage; Hangings; Hiding; Messiah; Rabbis; Starvation
Subjects: Będzin (Poland); Children.; Hanukkah.
Map Coordinates: 50.333, 19.117
Partial Transcript: But they lived in that old part of the city, and there was a room that had no windows. So what they did was, they took a closet leading to that room--because what the Germans did was, they looked for windows.
Segment Synopsis: Rittenberg explains that her family was then sheltered in a closet in the house of her aunt. She describes her mother's sickness at this time, as well as the severe disease and lice infestation of a young cousin who fled to her family.
[[Recording is interrupted at 31:55.]]
[[Audio is distorted after 31:55.]]
Keywords: Family life; Hiding places
Subjects: Diseases.; Lice.; Nazis.
Partial Transcript: The Final Solution for us came August 12, 1942.
Segment Synopsis: Rittenberg describes a large-scale selection for deportation that took place in a sports arena. She says that the Judenrat, the Nazi-controlled Jewish council of elders, had reassured the Jewish townspeople that this would be merely a counting, but that her brother did not believe this and so did not go, though his wife went and was deported. Rittenberg explains that she herself then felt responsible for her brother's children.
Keywords: Deportations; Judenrat; Schutzstaffel (SS)
Subjects: Children.; Family life.; Nazis.
Partial Transcript: Then what happened?
Segment Synopsis: Rittenberg explains that she was taken in November 1942, when the Germans came looking for her sister but, not finding her, took Rittenberg instead. She recalls her mother's attempt to persuade the soldiers to take her instead. She discusses the self-sacrifice her father had made for the sake of the family, although, she explains, she felt that her parents favored her older sister over her, which caused her much pain.
[[Recording is interrupted at 1:03:10.]]
Keywords: Deportations; Mothers; Schutzstaffel (SS)
Subjects: Family life.; Nazis.
Partial Transcript: What happened was that, um, I was almost--I had a--they took me away to a town, close was a school, a huge building, and they used it for a, a transient camp. Which means we were in this building several days, and this is where I went crazy, just worrying, you know, who is going to feed my brother's children?
Segment Synopsis: Rittenberg recounts how, while she was in a transient camp, her brother wrote a letter to her and smuggled it into the camp in a pot of soup. She says that in December 1942 she was moved from the transient camp to Blechhammer concentration camp in Poland. There, she explains, she tried to commit suicide but was stopped by a woman who had become her friend.
Keywords: Family life; Friendships; Letters; Smuggling; Suicide; Transit camps
Subjects: Blechhammer (Concentration camp); Labor camps.
Map Coordinates: 50.350, 18.300
Partial Transcript: And, we were there in Blechhammer about two weeks, and then we were lined up one morning, and then put on trains, by way of ------?? by way of Schatzlar, and we arrived at this magnificent, magnificent part of the world, Sudetenland, with such magnificent mountains with snow, and blue sky, where people lived, and children run.
Segment Synopsis: Rittenberg explains that after two weeks, she was moved to a labor camp in Schatzlar (Czech: Žacléř), a Czech village beside the border of Poland. Despite the hard work required of the prisoners in textile factories, she recalls moments that she actually misses, moments of closeness with the other women in the factory. She describes the arrival of a group of Hungarian women who arrived in December 1944 from Auschwitz. She recalls the hard forced marches that the women were forced to undertake in the last days of the war, during which some of the women, including her, were bitten by the German soldiers' dogs. She describes her relationship with a friend in the camp during this time and after the war, as well as the family her friend raised after the war.
Keywords: Czechoslovakia; Dogs; Factory work; Israel; Palestine; Piano; Schatzlar; Sinai; Snow
Subjects: Friendship.; Sudetenland (Czech Republic); Textile factories; Žacléř (Czech Republic)
Map Coordinates: 50.664, 15.911
Partial Transcript: -------?? with your sister?
Segment Synopsis: Rittenberg describes her return to her hometown in Poland after the end of the war. She took a gruelling train ride home, she says, but not before enjoying her freedom by going to a hairdresser and getting a permanent. She explains that a few days before the end of the war, the officer in charge of the camp in Schatzlar killed his family and himself and set his house on fire because he did not want to face the Russian soldiers who would soon arrive at the camp. She describes the cruel acts of the German soldiers just before the war's end. She explains that after her return home, many in her hometown wanted to leave Europe and move to the United States.
[[Recording is interrupted at 1:31:48.]]
Keywords: Czechoslovakia; Liberation; Schatzlar
Subjects: Będzin (Poland); Russians.; Soviet Union.; Žacléř (Czech Republic)
Map Coordinates: 50.333, 19.117
Partial Transcript: Finally, after a group of us, of ten, left Poland as Greeks. We obtained Greek papers, and we were not to speak anything but praying, because the Poles at the Czech borders did not know Greek either.
Segment Synopsis: Rittenberg describes her departure from her hometown in Poland along with nine others. She laments the demeaning treatment that the Jews received from the Germans during the war, giving as an example an episode in which a German soldier in Schatzlar said she was too beautiful to be a Jew. She reflects on the difficult question of why God allowed such evil to exist, and why even in the Garden of Eden story God allowed the possibility of evil.
[[Recording is interrupted at 1:51:47 and 1:52:30.]]
[[Recording ends abruptly at 1:56:35.]]
Keywords: Bratislava (Slovakia); Czechoslovakia; Greeks; Schatzlar; Vienna (Austria)
Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Poland.; Žacléř (Czech Republic)