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Elisabeth Mann, former prisoner of German concentration camps (1940s -- 1950s) | Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Name: Elisabeth Mann, former prisoner of German concentration camps (1940s -- 1950s)

Historical Note:

Elizabeth Mann was born in Hungary in 1925.  She grew up in a house filled with music; her father played the violin, her mother sang, and each of the four children played an instrument.  In 1941, however, her older brother was drafted into the army and sent to France, beginning the separation of her family.  A few years later, her sister was taken by SS officers and disappeared.

In April 1944, Elisabeth and her family were forced to move into the ghetto.  Not long after, the family was deported.  They took only what they could carry to the railroad station and were loaded into cattle cars.  After a hellish five day journey, they arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  The family tried to stay together, but the men were ordered into one line and the women and children were ordered into another.  Elisabeth’s younger brother, Laci, had just turned 13 and by Jewish law was now a man.  He asked Elisabeth which line he ought to join.  Because he was very ill, Elisabeth told him to stay with their mother, not knowing that this decision would send him directly to the gas chamber with their parents.

Elisabeth got strength and hope through memories of home and her nine “camp sisters,” who would literally support each other during roll calls.  She also managed to meet briefly with her sister who had disappeared while in Auschwitz.  In October 1944, she was sent to Bergen-Belsen before being sent on a death march.  She was liberated in Denmark on May 2, 1945.

            She spent several years in Sweden, where she met her husband, before immigrating to the US in 1955.  They are the proud parents of two daughters and a son.  In time, Elisabeth learned that the rest of her family had died, but she never lost touch with her camp sisters.  They saved her life and became her family.  Today she encourages everyone to believe in love and hope, saying, “Human beings cannot give up hope.  As long as you have your life, and hope, you can do anything.”

Sources: Personal recollections and biographical notes
Note Author: Staff

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