#WeRemember on International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023
To mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January – the day Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated 78 years ago – the National Fund of the Republic of Austria is taking part in the #WeRemember campaign.
In the days surrounding Remembrance Day, people who were persecuted following the “Anschluss” of Austria to Nazi Germany, who went on to survive Auschwitz and give testimony after their liberation will have their say on the social media channels of the National Fund; quotations, photos and short biographies will give readers an insight into their lives and survival.
Their stories are published in Volume 6 of the series Erinnerungen. Lebensgeschichten von Opfern des Nationalsozialismus (“Lives Remembered. Life Stories of Victims of National Socialism”), entitled Überleben in Auschwitz (“Surviving Auschwitz”). The two-volume book was published in October 2021 to mark the opening of the new Austrian exhibition at Auschwitz. It contains 20 autobiographical testimonies by survivors from different victim groups and provides a deep insight into everyday camp life, death and survival in Auschwitz.
Entries recorded in the digital guestbook by visitors to the new Austrian exhibition at Auschwitz are also documents of remembrance and commemoration. Visitors can express the thoughts and feelings that are elicited by the exhibition. These messages are displayed on the exhibition website and in various public places in Austria.
The publication Überleben in Auschwitz can be obtained from the National Fund.
The website for the new Austrian exhibition at Auschwitz containing biographies of Austrian Auschwitz inmates and the digital guestbook is online at www.auschwitz.at
24 January 2023 – Ella Lingens
Ella Lingens, née Reiner was born on 18 November 1908 into a wealthy Viennese family. She attended a private school and joined the Social Democratic Party as a teenager. Ella first studied law and then medicine. In March 1938 she married her fellow student Kurt Lingens, and on 3 August 1939 their son Peter Michael was born. After the “Anschluss”, Ella Lingens and her husband joined forces with fellow student Karl Motesiczky to help persecuted Jews. They used Karl Motesiczky’s house to hide them, providing food and helping prepare their escape.
In 1942, the group was betrayed and arrested. Kurt Lingens was assigned to a penal company, while Karl Motesiczky was deported to Auschwitz and murdered.
After spending several months in prison, Ella Lingens was also deported to Auschwitz, where she was put to work – without any previous practical experience – as a doctor in the infirmary under the infamous camp doctor Josef Mengele. After recovering from a bout of typhus, she was transferred to Dachau in 1944 to work as a doctor in a women’s detachment. She was liberated in April 1945. She died in Vienna on 30 December 2002.
Ella Lingen’s life story “Auschwitz was different” is published in Volume 6/2 of the book series Erinnerungen. Lebensgeschichten von Opfern des Nationalsozialismus, entitled Überleben in Auschwitz.
Read Ella Lingens biography at: https://www.auschwitz.at/ella-lingens
25 January 2023 – Susan Cernyak-Spatz
Susan Cernyak-Spatz was born Susanne Eckstein on 27 July 1922 in Vienna; she grew up in a middle-class family in Döbling.
After the “Anschluss” of Austria to the German Reich in March 1938, Susanne and her mother managed to flee to Prague, where Susanne's father awaited them, having travelled there for professional reasons shortly before the “Anschluss”. In Prague, the family lived together in a small apartment.
In May 1942, Susanne and her mother were deported to Theresienstadt. Susanne
was admitted to the camp upon arrival, her mother was transported onward to “the East” on the same day and murdered at Sobibór.
In 1943, Susanne was deported to the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. In January 1945, in the course of the camp’s evacuation, she was sent on a death march to Ravensbrück concentration camp for women.
Susanne was liberated in early May 1945.
In 1946, she emigrated to the USA with her husband, where she worked at the University of North Carolina until her retirement. She died on 17 November 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Susanne Cernyak-Spatz’s life story “Lessons on Survival” is published in Volume 6/2 of the book series Erinnerungen. Lebensgeschichten von Opfern des Nationalsozialismus, entitled Überleben in Auschwitz.
26 January 2023 - Freddie Knoller
One year ago today, on 26 January 2022, Freddie Knoller passed away at the age of 100.
Freddie Knoller was born in Vienna on 17 April 1921. His parents, Marja and David Knoller, hailed from the Ukraine. Until November 1938, he lived in Vienna with his family – his parents and his two older brothers Eric and Otto. Freddie’s parents’ experiences during the “Night of Broken Glass” and the fact that they had good contacts in Belgium persuaded them to send him to Antwerp, Belgium, to live with family friends. His brothers were also sent abroad, Eric to the United States and Otto to Great Britain. After leaving Vienna, Freddie never saw his parents again. They were deported to Theresienstadt in 1942 and Birkenau in 1944, where they perished.
In July 1943, Freddie fled to southern France and worked for the Résistance, but he was betrayed and taken to the camp at Drancy. From there he was deported to Auschwitz in October 1943. He was sent on a death march, which took him via Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp then onward to Bergen-Belsen, where he was liberated on 14 April 1945.
Freddie Knoller’s life story “Every event in my story leads to Auschwitz” is published in Volume 6/2 of the book series Erinnerungen. Lebensgeschichten von Opfern des Nationalsozialismus, entitled Überleben in Auschwitz.
27 January 2023 – International Holocaust Remembrance Day
On 27 January 1945 – 78 years ago to the day – Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp was liberated by the Red Army. In the days and weeks leading up to the liberation, the camp was evacuated by the camp SS; prisoners deemed fit for work were deported to the West and sent on so-called “death marches”. Children, the elderly and the sick were left behind in the camp – many of them also perished after the liberation due to sickness, hunger and malnutrition.
Today, on the anniversary of the liberation and the International Day of Remembrance, we pause and reflect. We remember.
The Austrian national exhibition “Far Removed. Austria and Auschwitz” on display in Block 17 of the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial also shines a light on the days and weeks surrounding the liberation of the camp. At the time of the liberation, there were still about 35 Austrians in the camp or the subcamps. Among them was Otto Wolken, a prisoner working as a doctor in the Birkenau infirmary: he managed to secretly keep statistics on admissions, death rates and selections at Birkenau. After the war, he was a key witness in trials against the camp SS.
The Austrian national exhibition can be viewed during the opening hours of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. You can visit the exhibition website here.
The Austrian Paul Grünberg was also among those who survived Auschwitz.
Paul Grünberg was born in Vienna on 24 January 1923 as the only son of Oskar and Else Grünberg. He lived there with his parents and his maternal grandparents. In 1938, he had to abandon his tailoring apprenticeship; in 1939, at the age of 16, he was deported with his father to Buchenwald, where his father perished. Paul was deported to Auschwitz in 1942 and then onward to Monowitz, where he worked in the typing pool, among other things. Over a period of six years he survived the concentration camps Buchenwald, Auschwitz I main camp, Auschwitz III-Monowitz and Neu-Dachs.
Paul Grünberg passed away in Vienna on 8 April 2018.
Paul Grünberg's life story “None of you are getting out alive” is published in Volume 6/2 of the book series Erinnerungen. Lebensgeschichten von Opfern des Nationalsozialismus, entitled Überleben in Auschwitz.
28 January 2023 – Ceija Stojka
10 years ago on this day, on 28 January 2013, Auschwitz survivor Ceija Stojka passed away in Vienna.
She was born on 23 May 1933 in Kraubath an der Mur in Styria as Margarethe Horvath. Her family were Lovara Roma, an ethnic group that had been involved in horse-trading in Austria since the 19th century. Ceija’s parents Karl “Wakar” Stojka and Maria “Sidi”, née Rigo were travelling horse traders set up home in Vienna over the winter. Ceija grew up with her five siblings Kathi, Mitzi, Johann “Mongo”, Karl and Ossi.
In 1941, her father was arrested, sent to Dachau concentration camp and murdered in the same year at Hartheim Castle, a Nazi killing facility in Upper Austria. In 1943, she was deported with her mother, her sister Mitzi and her three brothers to the extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where her little brother Ossi died of typhoid fever. In Auschwitz, Ceija was reunited with her sister Kathi, who had been imprisoned in the “Gypsy camp” in Lackenbach, Burgenland.
Ceija Stojka survived the concentration camps Auschwitz-Birkenau, Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen. As a writer and painter, she processed her experiences from the camps.
Ceija Stojka’s life story “I remember Auschwitz every waking moment of my life” is published in Volume 6/1 of the book series Erinnerungen. Lebensgeschichten von Opfern des Nationalsozialismus, entitled Überleben in Auschwitz.