August 17, 2007 at 11:23 (Book Discussions)

The Holocaust

By Lachlan

The Holocaust

Was one of the worst things to happen

To a race of people

Hitler was an insane man

With a stupid moustache

His followers were very easily influenced

Most of the Jews were strong hearted

But some were easily broken

Most were loyal to their faith

They were patient

And all they wanted

Was to be free

When they were liberatd

Most did not feel hatred

But numbness

Towards their captors




By Amy

There I stand

In the middle of nowhere

Working till I fall.

There is less food each day

I’m getting weaker by the minute.

Sleeping in rags

Sleeping on hard benches

The nights are cold and harsh

All we have is an army blanket

Between five of us.

We walk to the showers

It’s dark and frightening

No sound

Just the whimpering of scared Jews.

We wait to be washed

The others start to fall.

I am terrified

I feel drowsy.

I fall

I am now




Face to Face

By Justin

There I was

Looking face to face

With one of the Nazi guards

I could see out of the corner of my eye

All the poor and defenceless Jews


To the best of their ability

With what faith they had left.

The guard told me

“Get back to work”

But I was covered up to my knees

In the thick black mud

That surrounds and covers the grounds

Which they call a concentration camp.

The guard lifted his long black rifle

To my brown head of hair

And he said

‘You will do what I say, you filthy Jew.

Otherwise you will be like your relatives

Dead in the earth

Covered with the thick black mud

Six feet under’.



For Elli

By Claire

Here I am

Standing in a crowded room

Wearing nothing but old smelly rags

Working for my freedom

Getting weaker and weaker everyday

The food is gettng less and less

It all tastes the same

Plain and yuck

To think

I had a great future ahead of me

Now it has been shattered into little pieces

Just like my heart

With no one but my mother to hold and cry to

I scream at the top of my lungs

But no one hears me!


Concentration Camps

By Maddi

The concentration camps

were very dark, dull

frightful places to be.


Upon arrival

the people were divided

the young and the strong

were sent into the camp

while others like the elderly

and children

went to the gas chambers.

They slept in cold

dark barracks

with many people in the same bed.


Small portions of food

of the worst quality

were shared between many.


They were often forced to work hard

even though they were treated awfully

and had little energy.


Families were split

children separated from their parents

parents separated from their children.




By Indy

A girl of normal height, weight

Looks and mind

A smart girl, a promising future

A poet with a sensible head

A girl nobody could find fault with

Quiet, studious Elli.


Her hushed, tranquil life


Fell apart

Yet Elli still remained peaceful

Handling her anger within

Fighting a silent battle



Although Elli was mature

Beyond her early years

She kept a youthful spirit close

Remaining positive throughout

She was not a victim of the Holocaust

Elli was a survivor until the end









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Chapter 45

July 15, 2007 at 19:57 (Chapter Discussions)

Elli goes back to school and Bubi goes to study in Pressburg. Elli has a thirst for learning. She hopes to go to Palestine even though Bubi has applied for America. She identifies as a Jew, not as a Slovak or Hungarian and feels she cannot stay in Europe.

Question 1: Elli says “I want to go to Palestine and live among people who share my void.” (Page 264). What does Elli mean by the “void”?

Question 2: Elli decides she must give up any thought of finding her poems (Page 265). Why?

Question 3: What sort of person has Elli become by the end of the novel?

Question 4: How did you feel at the end of this book?

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Chapters 38 – 44

July 15, 2007 at 19:43 (Chapter Discussions)

Elli, Bubi and their mother are taken to Flack Kaserne army barracks outside Munich. Here Elli forms a friendship with Egon, a young German Jew. The family is eventually repatriated to Czechoslavakia by the Americans where they catch a freight train to Pressburg (Bratislava). They return to Somorja (renamed Samorin) and find their house and their neighbours. They are eventually told that their father died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp two days before liberation. They go to stay at the refugee headquarters in Budapest. Then Elli and her mother travel in search of relatives, finding only a very small number have returned.

Question 1: Elli feels betrayed when she sees American soldiers embracing two German girls (Page 227). How can the Americans be so friendly after what has happened?

Question 2: Why do you think Egon’s friendship is so important for Elli (Ch 40)?

Question 3: Elli has survived but the magnitude of her loss becomes apparent in the weeks after the liberation. What has she lost?

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Hannah Groslar

June 27, 2007 at 12:22 (Survivors)

Hannah GThis is a book, Hannah Groslar Remembers “A Childhood Friend of Anne Frank” can be found in the Library.  It is written by Alison Leslie Gold. I met Hannah while I was studying at Yad Vashem. She is  portrayed in the movie, Anne Frank (2006).  The Library holds a copy of the movie.

 hannah-and-me-small.jpgannes-friend-small.jpgThese two photos were taken at Yad Vashem in 2006.

You can also find more about Hannah and her friendship with Anne Frank at the following site

http://www.annefrank.org/content.asp?PID=483&LID=2 . 

I also have a taped interview with her, from my time at Yad Vashem.

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Life Before Nazi Occupation by Herbie Leder

June 27, 2007 at 01:52 (Survivors)

Mr Leder is a Holocaust survivor.  We emailed questions about his life during the Holocaust and he was nice enough to give us his personal account.

Thank you, Mr Leder for answering our questions!!!

We lived a middle class life in beautiful Vienna. No great luxuries, but comfortable. My father and mother ran a small leather merchant shop on the street level of the building in which we had our apartment on the second floor. Summer holidays in the country , joined by our extended family of Grandparents, uncles and aunties. Live-in domestic as was the practice at the time, developing a love for the winter sports of skiing and skating and support for our jewish 1st division soccer  team  Hakoah. I was 11 years old when the german army marched into Vienna to an enthusiastic reception to enforce the Anschluss, the joining of Austria and Germany. My school was the normal local state school as my parents were traditional but not extremely religious.

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Life During Occupation by Herbie Leder

June 27, 2007 at 01:51 (Survivors)

When two of my uncles were arrested and sent to concentration camps and a commissar placed in charge of our shop, my father decided it was time to “go”, and we left for Belgium, where we established a quiet life. When the German army started their occupation , my father, being considered a German citizen on the first day of the war, was sent to the south of France to be interned. My mother, baby brother, maternal grandmother and myself tried to escape the advancing nazi armies by crossing into France and hopefully to England. Being overtaken by the tide of war, under constant strafing and bombing, we spent 3 weeks in a barn attached to a French farm. Eventually we returned to Brussels, where at least we had our flat at our disposal. And lived there our precarious existence for a long, long four years umder constant danger of arrest and deportation. We obtained false papers which allowed us at least to continue to walk through the streets of Brussels. Not being allowed to go to school anymore, I became apprenticed to a Belgian photographer, where I learned the darkroom practices, that became my later profession. Many were the times that the trams on which I was traveling to work were stopped and we were lined up to be searched and to present our papers. Nazi goons were cruising the streets searching for jewish looking people, who would never be heard of again. Luckily I did not look suspicious and spoke French without an accent so was never stopped. Many narrow escapes  occurred  for myself as well as for my mother, too numerous to mention in this context, but we were lucky and  I am here to tell my story.

In meantime my father tried to escape to Switzerland , but was caught by the French police and handed over to the Gestapo. His name was included in the transport leaving for Auschwitz in November 1942, were he was killed.

After the Normanby landings in June 1944, Brussels was liberated without too much fighting and the allied troops welcomed by delirious crowds with flowers and kisses. I found myself on top of a British tank next to a schoolfriend, screaming our joy, when he shocked me somewhat by remarking that now that I was free I would be able to return to my home in Austria, which was the last place on earth I wanted to go. We waited with falling hopes for my fathers return and eventually had to accept the fact of his death at tha hands of  his murderers. So we accepted the landing permits sent to us by an uncle in far distant Australia and made our way to the migrant ship departing from Marseilles.

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Life in Australia by Herbie Leder

June 27, 2007 at 01:50 (Survivors)

Our expectations were more than fulfilled. I became a successful photographer, married most happily, three graduated daughters. Five grandchildren and myself now retired , I enjoy life to the full by participating in adult education classes, charity work and watching and attending sporting events. We are part and parcel of this great country  and bless the day we decided to come and make our home here in Melbourne.We travel a fair bit both here and overseas as long as God grants us the strength. If we survived the terrible years, it was partly due to the good sense of my mother, now passed on, and partly to just plain good luck.

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Photos from Stephanie Heller

June 27, 2007 at 01:35 (Survivors)

Stephanie with twin sister, Annetta, age 14 yearsStephanie with  twin Annetta at age of 14 years

Stephanie and twin sister 1945This photo of Stephanie and her twin sister, Annetta was taken in 1945

Stephanie 2003Here is a photo of Stephanie in 2003

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Life Before Nazi Occupation by Stephanie Heller

June 27, 2007 at 01:21 (Survivors)

Mrs Heller is a Holocaust survivor.  We emailed questions about her life during the Holocaust and she was nice enough to give us her personal account.

Thank you, Mrs Heller for answering our questions!!!

.What was life like before the Jewish restrictions?

  Life for our middle class family living in Prague (Czech capital) was normal. We were students at a state school and were not feeling different to others. We were members of the National Athletic group and took part in 2 European competitions.

2. How old were you at the time?

      We were 14 (I always say WE because my experiences are intertwined with my twin’s.

     (We also had a younger sister)

3. What were your dreams/aspirations for your future?

    I dreamed of being a doctor. Our grandfather was one.


4.  Where did you live?  City? Small Community? Country?  What was it like?

   We lived in a nice Prague suburb and felt at home

5. Did you have a job or go to school?  Please explain

        We were going to school   

.6. What was your family like?  Small/Large? Religious?

         Our family consisted of our parents and 3 daughters.  We knew we were Jewish and

          Went to Synagogue on main festivals but we neither kept Kosher diet or Shabbat rest

         From any activity.    


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Life During Nazi Occupation by Stephanie Heller

June 27, 2007 at 01:19 (Survivors)

How did life change under Nazi occupation?

We were forbidden to go to school, athletic clubs, and cinemas or theatres swimming  pools parks or restaurants. Many places had “Juden verboten” (Jews not permitted) even benches in parks or water fountains. Jewish doctors, lawyers and other professionals were forbidden to serve Aryans   and Aryan professionals were forbidden to serve Jews. Ration cards for Jews were smaller and distribution times considerably shorter too.

Any contact with Aryans was dangerous for both sides. Jewish shops, factories and other enterprise were taken over by Non Jews. Also other property, cars, jewellery, art articles to name only a few were expropriated without proper or any payment. Jews had to move out of whole suburbs vacate their houses and find

Accommodation with other Jewish families in other districts. These are only examples of the vast number of restrictions and laws enacted by the Nazis in

The terror on Jews.

2.      Were you sent to a ghetto? If so, which one and what was it like there? Diet, work, education, health?

          Our parents and younger sister were sent to Lodz ghetto in1941

   My sister and I were not allowed to join them. We never saw them again. They all perished. I married my boyfriend in 1942. Soon after my twin, husband and I were sent to Theresienstdt ghetto, which originally was a military fortified establishment built for empress Maria Theresa about a century before. The place was evacuated of all its civil population and army. Jews were brought in thousands from all over conquered Europe. Life was harsh. Overpopulated. People, specially the old ones, dying without medical help, depressed and hungry. The able all had some kind of work. My sister and I worked as nursing aids in the children’s section of the hospital. Children’s education was forbidden but secretly the healthy got a very good education by the best teachers. There were also musical and other educational lectures for the adults. All of course in deep secret, there was a big turnover of the population Thousand’s were sent to concentration camps. Others to work in German  factories in unhuman conditions and die of starvation.

3.      . Were you sent to a work camp? If so, which one? What was life like there?  Diet, work, education, health?

From Theresienstadt we were transported in cattle wagons to concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. At arrival there was selection by Dr Joseph Mengele.  The old, frail, sick and children to go straight to gas chamber. The ones deemed suitable for work into barracks. Dr. Mengele kept Twins, dwarfs and Gypsies for “medical” experiments. Our diet was very meagre, health deteriorated fast.

 4 Were you ever kept in hiding by someone?  If so, where, and what was it like?

     We were never kept in hiding by anyone

5.  Were you given an identification number?  Was it a tattoo or a brand?

     On arrival at Auschwitz our left arm was tattooed with a number.

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