Ruth Webber was 4 years old when WWII started. She lived with her mother and father, a photographer. Grandparents and other relatives lived close by and one grandmother lived with them. Her older sister Helen, a talented pianist, studied in a conservatory in Warsaw but soon returned.
By 1940, their home became a part of the newly established Ostrowiec ghetto. Ruth’s father was able to find a home for Helen to live and continue her education. Ruth was too young to safely follow the same route.
Ruth’s parents worked at the Bodzechów work camp and smuggled her in. The grandparents and other family members were all killed in Treblinka. After being moved between five ghettos and work camps, Ruth and her mother were sent to Auschwitz in August, 1944. Ruth became very sick and her mother cared for her as best as she could, often giving Ruth her bread. In October, 1944 her mother was sent to another camp, leaving Ruth devastated. Ruth was transferred into Mengele’s children’s block.
Ruth and the other prisoners were liberated from Auschwitz on January 27, 1945. Ruth and the other children were taken to an orphanage in Krakow. Her mother, having already found Helen, tracked Ruth down and placed them both in a children’s home in Bielsko-Biala for safety. The three escaped to Munich, and immigrated to Toronto two years later to live with distant relatives. Ruth’s father and 35 family members perished. Ruth married Mark Webber in 1956 and moved to Detroit where she had three children and now enjoys her five grandchildren.
What does Auschwitz mean to you?
Auschwitz is a giant cemetery, but a cemetery without any recognition of the individuals who perished. All who come here walk upon their blood, bones, tears and ashes.
My message for future generations is…
Continue to educate children about this horrific past so it should never happen again. Education and not teaching or showing hatred is the key.
There is the history, with its coldness and its calculating perpetrators, and there is the loss. We would like our children to know about those so they can avoid being victims and avoid being perpetrators. Professor Sidney Bolkosky, University of Michigan- Dearborn, August 18, 1987.
Who will be accompanying you on this journey?
Susan Webber (daughter) – official companion, Shelly Webber (daughter), Nathan Chesterman (grandson)
The best thing I will leave behind are my children and grandchildren. Having children and grandchildren is part of what helped me heal, and I trust them with my life. I’m fortunate to have some of them here with me now.