Inge’s Story

After two years of living in Terezin , Inge was told to report for “resettlement.” She was forced onto a crowded cattle car, leaving her parents behind. At the time she didn’t know where she was going, but the train soon arrived at Auschwitz .

TESTIMONY: “deportation
“The smell was overwhelming.”
—Inge Goldschmidt

At Auschwitz , the guards would tell all the prisoners to line up for inspections early in the morning or late at night, in the cold and ice. Soon she discovered that those who were selected were sent to their deaths at the gas chambers .

Inge was much younger than the other women, and did not know how to live without her parents. She felt lost and alone. She had no hope of seeing her mother and father ever again, and no hope of getting out alive from Auschwitz .

After several weeks, Inge was once again crammed onto a cattle car. This transport took her out of Auschwitz to Oederan, a labor camp close to Leipzig, Germany. At Oederan , Inge worked in an ammunition factory making bullets. Sometimes the workers would try to jam the machines to sabotage production, but their efforts were only temporary. Anything more serious would require too great of a risk.

One night when Inge was leaving the factory, the sky lit up and she could hear a distant rumble. Inge didn’t know what was going on and innocently asked if the sun was rising. A furious guard promptly punched her in the mouth, thinking that Inge was making fun of the situation. In fact, Inge later learned that what she actually saw was bombing by the Allies , as they approached in February 1945.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1988, photograph © Ira Nowinski.
Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1988, photograph © Ira Nowinski.

On April 12, 1945, one day before her sixteenth birthday, Inge heard that President Franklin D. Roosevelt died. Roosevelt was Inge’s hero as she imagined that the Americans would soon come to free them from the Nazis. Discovering that Roosevelt had died was a tremendous loss.

Later that day, even though the war was ending, Inge was forced once again onto a train for another long and terrible journey. The Nazis wanted to move the prisoners away from the Eastern Front . From April 12 to April 21, Inge was confined to the train and didn’t receive any food or water. Many people died from starvation and dehydration. They made stops along the way, attempting to bring the prisoners to different concentration camps, but eventually the train simply stopped and all of the guards disappeared. In the confusion, Inge managed to get out of the train and began walking with the crowds. Suddenly, a woman recognized Inge and approached her to deliver astonishing news: Inge had arrived back in Terezin , and her parents were alive.