Survivor speaks about Holocaust

Holocaust survivor Eva Brettler spoke to students to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 2. The event was organized by Daniel Meer ’08 and the Jewish Student Union. Brettler shared her survival story as a child in the Holocaust.

Born in Hungary, Brettler’s family moved to the larger city of Budapest when she was 4 and a half to avoid anti-Semitism. Brettler was left with her mother when her father was taken by German soldiers.  The two assumed identities as non-Jews to avoid suspicion but were discovered as they moved to a new apartment building. With only the clothes on their backs, the two were forced to march to Germany. Although soldiers took pity on young children by allowing them to travel by carriage, most of the children never saw their parents again as they heard the gunshots echoing behind them.

“One day, my mother asked if she could ride in the carriage with the children because her feet were hurting, but they told her to go to the back,” Brettler said, her voice beginning to shake. “I just heard three shots and that was the last time I saw her.”
From then on, Brettler survived thanks to the care of other women in both Ravensbruck and Bergen-Belsen. When she was liberated from Bergen-Belsen by the British army in April 1945, 8-year-old Brettler had typhus fever and could barely eat.
“The day I was liberated, I consider it my second birthday because it was my second chance to live.”

Eva’s father also survived the concentration camps and the two were reunited in 1947. Brettler attended school and began working before she moved to the United States in 1957.  She earned a degree in psychology from UCLA and pursued a career as a social worker to “give back to the community.”

Brettler was surprised as to how many students have Holocaust survivors in their families after she asked them to raise their hands. Brettler concluded the assembly by proudly speaking of her four children’s accomplishments.

Paulina Shahery ’09, who arranged for Brettler to speak, hopes that “next year, the assembly will be on a larger scale because I think everyone needs to hear these moving stories.”