There were a few women at the Dachau concentration camp when it was liberated by American soldiers on April 29, 1945. A short time before the liberators arrived, these women had been brought from various labor camps in Germany to the main Dachau camp so that they could be surrendered to the Allies. One of the women, who was liberated from Dachau, was Ann Rosenheck, who told her story to students at Troy University in Dothan, Alabama a week ago. You can read all about it here on the web site of the Dothan Eagle newspaper.
Ann Rosenheck is a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau; she was only 13 years old when she was sent from her home in Rachov, Czechoslovakia in 1944 to the Birkenau death camp. By that time, Rachov was part of Hungary.
According to the Dothan Eagle article about her talk to the students, “By luck or fate, Rosenheck was not killed.”
“Rosenheck was only spared at first because her mother told her to lie about her age after getting wind of the Nazi’s policy of killing anyone older or younger than a certain age.” One of the Jewish workers at the train ramp had told Rosenheck’s mother that there was no one over 38 or under 17 in the camp.
The Holocaust survivors still alive today were all very young when they were sent to Birkenau and they all tell about how they lied about their age to escape the gas chamber. This makes me wonder why Dr. Josef Mengele, a medical doctor who also had a PhD in anthropology, could not tell the difference between a girl of 13 and a girl of 17. Maybe he deliberately accepted the lies told by the incoming prisoners so that the Germans could have more workers for their war effort.
Here is a quote from the Dothan Eagle article:
During her time in the camp, Rosenheck was subjected to frequent sortings by the Nazis as they chose who would live and who would die.
“First they were gassed, and then they were burned,” she said.
Once Rosenheck missed being sent to the gas chamber only because the chamber was busy at the time she was scheduled to die. Eventually, she managed to slip into a detail of Jews being sent to factory and escaped the camp.
Other survivors have told similar stories about the gas chamber being full or busy at the time that they were sent there, and after that, they were never selected again for the gas chamber. This seems to me to be a very sloppy way to run an extermination camp.
Rosenheck “managed to slip into a detail of Jews being sent to (a) factory and escaped the camp.” This is another common story told by the survivors: they sneaked into a group that was going to a factory and “escaped the camp.”
Rosenheck was only in the Birkenau camp for four months before going to the Geisingen labor camp in Germany, where she worked in a munitions factory until she was transferred to Dachau. All together, she spent 15 months in the Nazi concentration camps.
According to her talk, as reported by the Dothan Eagle, Rosenheck was taken to Dachau to be killed. Here is a quote from the newspaper article:
Toward the war’s end, Rosenheck and many of the other work camp prisoners were transferred to Dachau, where they were slated to be killed. The intervention of a camp physician, and the liberation of the camp by American forces prevented Rosenheck from being killed.
So, toward the war’s end, when trains were scarce and the tracks had been bombed by American planes, the Germans decided to transport the women to Dachau to be killed? Why not just shoot them in the labor camp? Or put them all inside a barn and burn them to death? No wonder Germany lost the war! The Nazis did everything in a totally stupid and inefficient way.