This morning I read an article in a college newspaper about a traveling Holocaust exhibit that was recently shown at California State University Fresno. Holocaust survivors were on hand to tell the students their personal stories. Among the survivors, who attended the opening ceremony of the Courage to Remember exhibit from the Museum of Tolerance, were Anna Levin-Ware and her husband Robert Ware. Photos of Anna, taken when she was a prisoner in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, were included in the exhibit.
Anna Levin was Polish, but her husband was Hungarian. This quote from the college newspaper tells how Anna was saved from the gas chambers at Birkenau:
Later Levin-Ware shared how she was placed in a gas chamber, doors locked, ready to die. Then, suddenly, guards suddenly opened the doors and announced that any Hungarians were to leave, including her by marriage. To her surprise, they removed her from the chamber.
But to her horror, they left her father, mother, brother and baby sister in the gas chamber and could only listen as the sounds of panic slowly became silent, marking their deaths. Along with other parts of her story, she showed the audience a picture of her assembled before the Nazis of her camp when she was in her 20s.
Did something get lost in translation here? Did this student reporter misunderstand Anna’s story? It is well known that 400,000 Hungarian Jews were gassed in only ten weeks at Birkenau. Yet Anna was saved when German guards opened the gas chamber doors (plural) and announced that the Hungarians would be saved, leaving Anna’s Polish relatives to their fate. (more…)