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I WAS BORN IN MAUTHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP
By Eva Nathan Clarke
Daughter of Bernd Nathan
and Anka Bergman
I was born in Mauthausen Concentration Camp on April 29, 1945. My mother and I are the only survivors of our family: 15 members of whom were killed in Auschwitz - 3 of my grandparents, my father, uncles, aunts, and my 8 year old cousin, Peter.
Anka and Eva
In 1933, when Hitler came to power, my father left Hamburg for Prague, where he eventually met my mother. They were married on May 15, 1940. In December 1941, my parents were sent to Terezin/Theresienstadt. They were to remain there for three years, which was very unusual: they were young, well capable of work, and luck had a lot to do with it.
During this time, and despite the sexes being segregated, my mother became pregnant with my brother, Jiri/George. When the Nazis discovered this fact, my parents were forced to sign a document stating that when the baby was born, he would have to be handed over to the Gestapo - to be killed! It was the first time my mother had heard the word "euthanasia". However, in the event, my brother died of pneumonia at 2 months of age, and his death meant my life! Had my mother subsequently arrived in Auschwitz Birkenau with a baby, she would have been sent immediately to the gas chambers. Because she arrived there without a baby, and although by this time she was again pregnant with me - but not visibly - she survived!
My mother was in Auschwitz Birkenau from October 1st thru October 10th, 1944. Incredibly, she had volunteered to go there the day after my father was sent there. Tragically, she never saw him again, and he never knew that she was pregnant. She discovered after the war that he had been shot dead on January 18th, just one week before the Russian Army liberated the camp on January 27, 1945.
As my mother's pregnancy
was not visible, and she was deemed fit for work, she was sent out of Auschwitz
to work in an armaments factory in Freiberg, Saxony, near Dresden.
She remained there for the next six months - by now getting weaker and
weaker, while at the same time becoming visibly pregnant.
At the end of March and the beginning of April, 1945, the Nazis were retreating and evacuating various concentration and slave labor camps. My mother wasn't on a death march, but she and her fellow prisoners were forced on to a train; not cattle trucks this time, but coal trucks - open to the skies, and obviously filthy. They were given no food and scarcely any water during what became a three week nightmare journey around the Czech countryside. The Nazis didn't know what to do with their "dying cargo". Under normal circumstances, the train would have been sent back to Auschwitz, but this was now April, 1945, and Auschwitz had been liberated in January.
The train eventually arrived at Mauthausen Concentration Camp; the main camp in Austria. My mother had such a shock when she saw the name of this notorious camp, that labour began. I was born on a cart, in the open, without any assistance, medical or any other kind. By this time she weighed 5 stone (70 pounds) - she had the appearance of a scarcely living pregnant skeleton. I weighed about 3 pounds at birth. We were eventually taken to the Revier 'hospital'. There are two reasons why we survived, the first being that the Germans had destroyed the gas chamber in Mauthausen on April 28th, and I was born the next day! The second reason was liberation of the concentration camp by the American Army six days after my birth!
Note: Eva and her mother, Anka, now reside in England. Anka celebrated her 91st birthday in April of 2008, and is in reasonably good health. She remembers that following the liberation, American soldiers took many photos of her, with her tiny baby. They would love to have prints of any of those photos that may still be in existence. Please contact the Web Site Editor if you have related information.
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