Katan, Livia

Katan, Livia

Mukacheve (Ukraine), Auschwitz

Katan was born in Mukachevo, Hungary, in 1923. Although she had only one sister, Katan’s extended family totalled more than ninety-two members. Only nine survived the Holocaust.

Her father owned a store that sold yarn. The family had a German maid who became a trusted member of the community. When Katan’s family was first confined to the town ghetto, the maid brought them food. The Katan family, as well as several other members of the community, signed their property over to the maid for safe keeping. After they returned, however, to collect this property she pretended not to know them.

After sleeping on the floor in a ghetto for six weeks, she and her family were deported to Auschwitz. In the cattle car that took the family to Auschwitz, Katan’s parents died.

Katan cries while telling many heart-wrenching stories about her experiences in the camps. She was selected for work camps. Her work often consisted of cutting down trees and piling bags of cement onto railroad cars. The work was too difficult and when she collapsed from fatigue, the SS guards would kick her. She recalls getting up at 3:00 a.m. in the morning and taking part in roll call with 30,000 other prisoners. After roll call (at about 5:30 a.m.) Katan was forced to walk one and a half hours to work.

Katan tried several times to throw herself on the electrified fences, but each time was stopped. Her sister’s persistence kept Katan alive. On the death march back to Germany, after walking for two days, Katan attempted to lie down but her sister forced her to continue. Suddenly, the German soldiers disappeared and they were liberated by the Russians. At the time of liberation, Katan weighed fifty pounds. She met her future husband, another survivor, in a displaced persons camp.

Interview Information:

Date: August 18, 1981
Format: Audio recording

Date: March 2, 1986
Interviewer: Esther Weine
Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Format: Video recording