Survivors' Stories

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
Elie Wiesel

Eva Gelbman

  • From: Sárkeresztúr (Hungary)
  • Liberated from: Poland/German border (Bydgoszcs/Bromberg/ Toruń)
  • Deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau from: Hungary (Kistarcsa)
  • Current Location: Ottawa (Ontario-Canada)
  • Year of birth: 1928

Brief Bio

Born in 1928 in a small village in Hungary to an orthodox Jewish family.  My father was the rabbi/cantor/teacher. Had 10 siblings, 3 died in infancy. In March 1944 taken to Kistarcsa in Hungary, then in a cattle car to be taken to Auschwitz, but returned us to Kistarcsa as Horty was threatened that would be tried as a war criminal in future if they allowed us out.  We think Wallenberg had something to do holding back train. 3 days later Eichman sent trucks and “stole” us from there to be taken to Auschwitz. Never saw family members again, Mengele was doing selection. Mid August 1944 taken to the Stutthof camp, from there taken to a forest in Poland (Argenauw?) planting rows of wires for land mines. January 19th 1945 taken from there, walked until the 25th, no food or water, lived on snow, to a prison in Toruń. Woke to a large detonation sound, door opened, Russian soldiers came in and released us, not given food or clothing or medicine.  Walked across Poland until March 1945. In Michalovce Slovakia fainted, taken to a hospital there, then to Košice hospital until July, returned to Hungary by train.

I was the only female survivor from my village.  My brother survived underground, today still living in Hungary, 97 today. I married in 1948, 1st 2 children died, 1956 escaped Hungarian Revolution with our 3-year-old to USA. 1957 deported from US at 7 months pregnant as husband accused of being a Communist, (McCarthy era), deported to Austria, 2nd child born.  Lived in Belgium 1958-1964.  Then to Canada 1964. Spouse passed away in 1988, have 2 daughters, 1 in Israel, 2nd I live with here, 4 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. 

What does Auschwitz mean to you?

Emotionally very hard but on the other hand because essentially no-one was given a proper burial, I return for a Yizkor, for all those that couldn’t continue their generations…..  It is the evidence of what humans are capable of….

My message for future generations is…

There are so few survivors left, and it is so very, very important that future generations know, FROM US, what happened.  There are too many who deny or “aren’t” interested, I want to keep alive the collective responsibility and memory of a pure evil that can occur any time.  Never Again are not only words, yet it continues to happen on different scales in different parts of the world today.

Who will be accompanying you on this journey? 

My daughter Gabi Avni

I live with her and her family and she has grown up hearing these stories.