Eisenberg, Belle Rubin
This oral history video interview is available at the USC Shoah Foundation website through the generosity of the Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Family Foundation
Miechow (Poland), Sosnowiec, Auschwitz, Gross Rosen, Mauthausen, Bergen Belsen
Belle was born in Miechow, Poland in 1921. She lived in Sosnowiec, not far from Krakow. She went to public school through her sophomore year. Belle’s extended family numbered seventy people. She had aunts, uncles and grandparents in Detroit.
Belle’s mother was Shandele Salzberg Rubin, her father was Mordechai and her brother was Herzl. Belle’s father survived the concentration camp and died at the age of sixty five in Israel.
Her family was taken out of their home and sent to live in a small village, in one room. In July of 1942, the ghetto where they lived was liquidated. Her father’s business was sold to Gentiles who took them to the Arbeitslager. They sorted clothes from Auschwitz prisoners. Her mother worked in the kitchen, stealing food for the family.
Belle was sent to another area and separated from her family. She never saw her brother again. First she was sent to the Gross Rosen camp, then to Mauthausen, the death camp. She was striped and deloused. She was given men’s pajamas to wear. Her next stop was Bergen Belsen where she stayed for four months. She was then twenty-two. She was with her mother and both contracted typhus. Her mother died at the age of forty-five on April 15, 1945, the day of liberation.
When she was liberated by the British, they warned the prisoners not to eat the food as it was filled with glass. She survived but weighed a mere eighty pounds and suffered from malnutrition. She had been in Bergen Belsen for six months. She had also been on a death march, wearing hardly any clothes but she said that her religious faith kept her going. They marched for days . . . then took the train to Mauthausen. She read that FDR had died and her mother said “Who will save us?”
When she arrived in Bergen Belsen, she had to carry the dead. There was no food and no work. She was there until April of 1945, just waiting to die. When she was liberated, she couldn’t walk because of the typhus. A doctor began giving her calcium shots. It took three months before she could walk again. She was put on the first boat to the U.S., having memorized the addresses of her family.
She concluded by saying that her husband was writing lists of survivors. Her family sent for both of them. Her husband followed fourteen months later.
Belle went to Durfee and Central High School in Detroit. She got a job from the Jewish Vocational Services and married here. She told her two sons about her past when they were grown.
Interviewer: Dorothy Madelie
Length: 38 minutes
Format: Video recording
To view this oral history video interview, please click here.