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Joshua Kaufman

As anti-Semitism in German-occupied countries grew, Lazar was pressed into forced labor. Working from early morning to late night, he helped build bunkers. Heavy hauling jobs that would normally be performed with horses were consigned entirely to humans. The one silver lining was that, unlike the prisoners in extermination camps, these workers weren’t systematically killed. “They weren’t nice to us,” says Lazar, “but there was no gas chambers.”

Louise was about 20 when she was deported to Auschwitz: “A woman that was in power at the time liked my shoes,” says Louise, “and she took them and I had no shoes. I was barefoot. It was cold, northern climate there: it’s cold in the fall. We struggled.”

Gas chambers were a terrifyingly real presence in Auschwitz. “We knew we are to be destroyed,” says Louise.  She kept a protective eye over her sister who was five years younger—and not always inclined to listen to her older sibling. “We had lost our parents, and I felt responsible for her,’ says Louise. “We had no one. … There were several selections, but I held onto her. I didn’t let go. Even for—if it cost my life. Never let go of her. We lost the rest of the family. Five children—I was the oldest. Two of us survived.  … There were times that she would just sit down and she wouldn’t cooperate. She was young and didn’t understand what goes on. I dragged her. It was tough.”

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