Marta Wise, child survivor of Auschwitz, dies at 88
She arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi death camp in occupied Poland, on November 3, 1944, where she was subjected to medical experiments by SS Dr. Josef Mengele, known to his victims as the “Angel of Death.” His survival, he later said, he owed to luck, to the companionship of his sister Eva – who had been arrested and imprisoned with him – and to hope.
When Soviet troops entered Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, Marta weighed 37 pounds. He and Eva are among 13 children who a Image Taken by a Soviet photographer shortly after the liberation of the camp, A portrait Bare survival and, today, one of the most disturbing images of the Holocaust.
Mrs. Wise, 88, died May 19 in a Jerusalem hospital. Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem announced his death but did not give a cause.
Mrs. Wise’s testimony, which she shared with groups around the world as a guide and speaker at Yad Vashem, became more valuable in the last years of her life, as the number of survivors dwindled. And the number of survivors increased rapidly. Holocaust Remembrancers.
As a 10-year-old child who escaped death in one of the Nazis’ largest extermination camps, Mrs. Wise was by no means unusual. Of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, About 1 million Died in Auschwitz. According to the Camp Memorial and Museum, Only 500 prisoners under 15 years of age. He was alive at the time of independence.
Reflecting on her months in the camp, Mrs. Wise said she mainly remembers her fear, her hunger and the cold. “I’m not sure how much I understand.” He commented Years later in an interview with Yad Vasham. “I was a child, after all. But it was a different world … it was not of this world, Auschwitz.
Marta Weiss was born on October 8, 1934 in Bratislava, then Czechoslovakia and now Slovakia.
His father, a wealthy businessman, owned spinning and weaving mills as well as a grocery store. Mrs. Wise remembered her mother as a beautiful woman, always stylish, even when she was caring for her many children.
Mrs Wise had a happy childhood, surrounded by her siblings, cousins, grandparents and other relatives in the lavish residence where the family lived near the Presidential Palace in Bratislava.
But the breakup of Czechoslovakia in the Munich Agreement of 1938, which allowed Nazi Germany to annex the German-speaking Sudetenland in exchange for Hitler’s empty promise of peace, soon made Jewish life in Slovakia miserable.
Although formally independent, Slovakia became essentially a satellite state of Nazi Germany and, According to the American Holocaust Memorial Museumwas the first Axis partner to agree to the deportation of Jews, which the Nazis called the Final Solution.
Despite her youth, Marta begins to sense danger as she sees signs forbidding “Jews and dogs” in the park where she once played. His father lost his business amid worsening anti-Semitic persecution. In 1942, when he was arrested and released for ransom, he and his wife planned to scatter their children to places where they hoped they would afford greater safety.
Marta was encouraged to stay with relatives in the town of Sarvar in Hungary, which was not yet occupied by the Germans. After the Germans occupied the country in March 1944, he was smuggled back to Bratislava, making part of the journey on foot through wheat and corn fields.
Her parents then sent her, along with her sister Eva, three years her senior, to the town of Nitra, east of Bratislava, where the girls lived with a nanny, orphaned by wartime bombing. They used to pretend to be Catholic children.
They attended school and Sunday church services, strictly maintaining their cover. For an added measure of protection, Eva befriended the daughter of a high-ranking SS officer, who treated her affectionately, often challenging her to a game of chess.
One day, Mrs. Wise recounted, the SS officer commented on the upcoming Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Many Jews had already been deported from Bratislava. On the High Holy Days, the officer told Eva, anyone who remained would “sneak out of their holes like rats” to attend religious services. The Nazis would seize this opportunity, declaring that they would make Bratislava “Judenfree” of Jews.
Eva managed to send word of the impending round-up to her parents, who also passed on the warning to other Jews hiding in Bratislava. At least for the moment, they were entrusted to a young girl to protect them.
Marta and Eva’s arrest took place when they returned home from church on October 8, 1944. After seeing a truckload of soldiers pull up outside her apartment building, “we all thought he was going ahead and people saluted him,” Mrs. Wise said. Interviewer years later. But they were not going forward. They had come to pick up a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old child.
The sisters were questioned about their identities and beaten before being taken to the Serd concentration camp in Slovakia and then to Auschwitz. Describing the train’s intermittent journey, Mrs. Wise told Yad Vashem that people died standing up. The cattle cart was so full of human lives that even the dead could not rest on the ground.
Upon arriving at Auschwitz, an adult waved Marta over the small window at the top of the train and asked what she saw. “There’s a lot of smoke in the air,” he replied, his first look at the camp’s crematorium.
Marta and Eva are separated first in the selection line, Eva being chosen for work and Marta heading to the gas chambers. Published account of their story. A flyover by Soviet aircraft causes a stir on Earth, allowing the girls to be reunited.
They spent most of their imprisonment together. “I was ‘lucky’, under the circumstances – I was lucky that the madman let me stay with my sister all my life,” Mrs. Wise told Yad Vashem, referring to Mengele.
Marta and Eva were placed together in a block with twins and dwarfs, many of them personally selected by Mengele for his sadistic and often fatal studies. Both Marta and Eva underwent medical experiments, though they never learned what kind; Mrs. Wise only recalled blood draws and injections that caused abdominal pain.
“I don’t remember the details,” he told Yad Vashem. “I just remember the pain, and I remember the injection. I remember it coming, and then you just wanted to die when you saw it.
During their imprisonment, “amidst all the death, and the horror, the torture and the killing,” said Mrs. Wise, it never occurred to her or her sister that their parents were at home. I won’t be waiting for them when freedom comes, or them. When they return, life will not be the same.
“That’s how people survived, believing that they would find their families when it was all over,” he said. Remember. “And it kept you going. Hope will keep you going.”
Mrs. Wise’s younger sister Judith died in Auschwitz. His other siblings and his parents survived the Holocaust. His mother, Mrs. Wise, recalled, was “surprised” when he and Eva appeared at her home in June 1945 after making their way back to Bratislava.
“I don’t think he really recognized us,” said Mrs. Wise. “It’s beyond words to describe how you felt when you came back.” But the joy of their reunion was tempered by another separation: both Marta and Eva were sick with tuberculosis, a highly contagious disease that spread through the camps, and until they recovered She could not stay at home.
As the sisters grew up, Mrs. Wise said, they told their parents nothing about their experience at Auschwitz. “We didn’t have the heart to tell them such a thing,” he said.
In 1948, the family emigrated to Australia, where Marta studied history at the University of Melbourne. In 1957, she married Harold Wise. He lived in Australia before settling in Israel in the late 1990s.
Mrs. Wise is survived by her husband; his three daughters, Michelle Sher, Judy Jose and Mary Bruce; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mrs. Wise’s sister Eva Solonum, author of the memoir “Stargazing: Memories of a Child Survivor,” is 91 and lives in Melbourne.
“I don’t know how we survived, how anyone survived in that environment,” Mrs. Wise told The Associated Press. “It is a miracle to me. … And why am I saved and others do not know me. I am not God.”