Nederlands Exposition in Auschwitz Sinti and Roma

Auschwitz - Augusta

In 1944, I was nine-years old. I lived with mamma, my brothers, Calo and Besso, and Kriepela (my baby sister) in a small caravan. The nazis had already arrested my father and sent him away. We didn't know why and to where he was sent. He had been gone for more than a year. We were all sitting inside when we heard a knock on the door. Mamma was just nursing Kriepela. Calo opened the door and three men in uniform were standing outside. Mamma stood up and asked what this was all about. One of the men grabbed the baby from her arms and threw her in the corner as if she was a heap of old rags. "Come outside with us, and quickly", he ordered us. We were told to take all our precious possessions, some money, and of course our gold. Mamma, who in the meantime sat by Kriepela, was pulled out of the caravan by her hair. My God, I will never forgive them; we couldn't take the baby with us. We were brought to the police station and registered. There were already a number of Sinti there. Mamma told them about Kriepela and a plan was devised to fetch the baby. A number of men gathered gold and jewellery and offered this to the police agent. Calo was then allowed to go and fetch Kriepela, but he had to be back before dawn. When we woke up we had to go outside and wait. When we had to board the train to Westerbork, we heard Calo calling. Kriepela was not with him. He found a message that an aunt had taken her away and that they are hidden by good Dutch people.
In Westerbork the men and women were separated. Mamma had to sit down while a woman behind her had to cut her hair. I jumped at the woman and started yelling all the dirty words I knew in Romani; I shouted and kicked. Suddenly everything went black. When I came around, mamma and my brothers were sitting by me. We all had to board a train wagon. The wagon was crammed with people and the doors were locked. I don't remember much of the journey. It was warm and humid, and we were thirsty and hungry. It was dark when we arrived. The women and men were again separated and Besso cried for his mother. Calo took him in his arms and stood in line. We were put in a wooden barrack where heartbreaking scenes occurred. That was the last evening that I spent with mamma. The next day we were put on a lorry, and Calo was also there, but not my little brother Besso. The adults were allowed to wave goodbye. In her desperation to give us something, mamma took off her socks and ran to us and gave each one of us a sock. A nazi who saw that hit mamma on her back with his weapon, she fell, dear God, why oh why, and then he kicked her in the head. Just then the lorry drove away and all the children were crying. Some even climbed out of the lorry and they were shot and killed just like that. We saw manna lying there on the ground. Till today this is etched in my memory. Each one of us holding a sock, that was what remained of our mother. Calo and I, and three other children, were left behind in a village with a family. We had make train sleepers from felled trees - 12 to 14 hours per day. We were treated like animals. We were kicked out of our beds in the morning and had to stand for roll call. Calo and the other two boys couldn't stand it any longer and they escaped. But they didn't get far.
My baby sister Kriepela and I are the only ones in our family who survived. Mamma - together with my little brother Besso - threw herself against the electric fence in Auschwitz. My brother Calo was gassed between August 2 and 3 1944 in Birkenau and my father died in Sachsenhausen.


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Glossary
floorplan
introduction
jew in the netherlands
refugees
german invasion
persecution
resistance
going into hiding
sinti and roma
deportation
dutch people in auschwitz
guest book
sinti and roma
in hiding – hannes weiss
auschwitz - augusta
rescued – zoni weisz
transports on 19 may 1944
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