Holocaust Memorial Day: ‘Today if they sent animals like that to the slaughter people would cry out’

Lily Ebert and granddaughter Nina Forman.

Lily Ebert and granddaughter Nina Forman. - Credit: VisMedia

Lily Ebert, 83, from Golders Green, was born in Hungary and sent to Auschwitz with her mother and four of her siblings when she was a teenager in 1944. She lost her mother, younger sister and younger brother at the camp. Her granddaughter Nina Forman, 38, lives in Golders Green and says it is important to never forget.

“I had three different lives. I had the life before the Holocaust, the life in hell and the life after the hell,” said Mrs Ebert.

“The life before the hell was good – I had a protected life and a big family. When the Germans invaded we had to wear the yellow star.

“One day we were told we had to give up everything. My brother put some jewellery in the heel of my mother’s shoe. Shortly after that they took us to a station and put us in a cattle truck.

“We travelled for five days. There were 70 to 80 people in the truck without food. There was one bucket for water and one for human waste. Today if they sent animals like that to the slaughter people would cry out.

“The day before we got to Aushwitz my mother said maybe we should change shoes. When we got out of the truck my mother, brother and younger sister were sent left. Me and my other two sisters were sent right.

“They cut our hair and we had a shower. When we came out everything was gone. Just our shoes were there. We saw a terrible fire coming out of the chimney and we asked the other people what it was and they said it would kill your family.

Most Read

“It was terrible, impossible to believe. We had no food or washing facilities. We could not sleep. It was 10 people to a bed. From there I was sent to slave labour with my two sisters. After that the Americans liberated us.

“In Auschwitz I had nothing, so everyday I put the necklace in a piece of bread. The necklace survived the camp, it survived the slave labour, it survived the death march and I still wear it today.”

Mrs Ebert’s granddaughter Nina Forman said: “When we were really young it was still taboo. The survivors weren’t talking about it yet and it was never mentioned at home.

“When I was about eight or nine I noticed her tattoo and I asked and after that it did become more open.

“It was something I became very interested in and I tried to ask my Grandma, but in a sensitive way. I did my university dissertation about the effects of being a Holocaust survivor on children.

“I try to get my grandmother over as much as possible and all my children read books about it. It is important that they learn from their grandmother and never forget.”