Youra (Baumgarton), June (Hinda)

Youra (Baumgarton), June (Hinda)

Kalisz (Poland),Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz, Birkenau, Christianstadt, Bergen-Belsen

Mrs. June Youra was born in Kalisz, Poland in 1926.  Her parents were Shaya and Tzerel.  Her brothers were Israel, born in 1927 and twin brothers Hershel and Gershon, born in 1930.  Her grandfather and aunt also lived with them.

Her father was a businessman who had eight partners in their import business.  He was a secular Jew and her mother was more religious.

Mrs. Youra attended a private religious school for girls and said she was greatly spoiled by her parents, grandparents and also great-grandparents.

On the Sabbath, her father brought home two Yeshiva boys for dinner, just a few of the many guests who attended their Shabbos dinners.

On the morning of September 1st, 1939, war came to her town and the family escaped to Holland, where they slept in a barn and stayed a few days.  Mrs. Youra said, “War was a novelty for me.”

When they returned home, they saw German soldiers and sent two of her younger brothers to their grandparents home.  They decided to then leave for Lodz where her great-grandparents, great aunt and uncle lived.  A ghetto was formed shortly thereafter and closed in with barbed wire.  At the beginning, Mrs. Youra went to school, but within the year, the school was closed and hunger set in.  Mrs. Youra worked in a factory that made shoes for the German soldiers.  Many more Jews were coming into the Ghetto from areas surrounding Lodz.  They heard that their grandparents and brothers were taken away to Auschwitz.  Her father saved some of their bread for those sicker than them.  People were dying in the streets and Mrs. Youra was afraid that one of the corpses would be someone she knew.

Mrs. Youra’s mother’s health was disintegrating rapidly and within a short time, she was taken away.  Mrs. Youra, her father and one brother were hungry and cold.  One time, she hid her brother as people were being rounded up and her father went into hiding.

In the Fall of 1944, they left for Auschwitz.  Her brother went with some neighbors.  On the way, they passed “dead people walking,” crying for bread.  It looked like an insane asylum.  Mrs. Youra was separated from her family, stripped and shaven.  She walked in front of Mengele, who was pointing his stick back and forth.  She was sent to “the other side.”  She encountered three days of horror that she refused to speak about.

Next she was sent to Birkenau and then to Christianstadt.  All of her feelings were taken away and she worked digging ditches and stood to be counted for hours on end.  Although the Russians were coming closer, she was freezing and starving.

Mrs. Youra and the others began their march to Bergen-Belsen, walking thirty kilometers each day with no food.  She said “I don’t remember how many days we marched…it was a lifetime.”  She walked barefoot in the snow and promised herself that, if she survived, she’d come back to see the beauty of the mountains.  Everyone was dirty and had lice.  The barracks in Bergen-Belsen were a nightmare.  The only thing they talked about was food.

The British liberated them on April 15, 1945.  After the war, she met Rabbi Zanger who told her that her father always helped others in the camp and that he died just one day before the end of the war.

One thousand prisoners came from Christianstadt to Bergen-Belsen and only ten people survived.  She was sent to a DP camp before coming to the United States in April, 1949.  She arrived as Mrs. Hinda Youra, having married Mr. Al Youra in 1948.  They lived in Oak Park, Michigan until moving to Southfield.

Mrs. Youra has three sons: Steven, Gary and Harold and three granddaughters.  She has been living in Tamarac, Florida for nine years.

Interview information:
Date: June 15, 1988
Interviewer: Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig
Length: 1 hour
Format: DVD