Vol. 14


The Great Escape

1945; Sevlus, Czechoslovakia;1 and Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland

People always asked my great-grandmother how she lived to be 105. She told them her story, and now I will tell it to you.

My great-grandmother lived in Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust. She was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. One day the concentration camp had to be evacuated, because the Americans were coming to fight the Germans. My great-grandmother had to line up with her friends in rows of five. Then they had to walk out of the concentration camp, and anyone who stopped walking was shot by the Germans. My great-grandmother and her seven friends (one was her sister) were planning to run away to the forest, but they were scared.

One night almost all of the people walking were told to sleep in a barn. One girl came to my great-grandmother and asked if she could sleep next to her. This girl had asked everyone else, and they had all said no. My great-grandmother said, “Yes.” The girl snuggled up to my great-grandmother and went to sleep. In the morning, when my great-grandmother woke up, she realized that the girl was dead.

The German soldiers started to yell, “Wake up!” My great-grandmother got back into the line and started to walk. She and her friends looked at each other and ran into the forest. A few minutes later a German soldier who had been watching the line found them. The man shot each one of them, and all of my great-grandmother’s friends, including her sister, died. Miraculously my great-grandmother didn’t die. The only thing she couldn’t do because she had been shot in the head was that she was not able to cry.

After my great-grandmother was shot, she found another barn and slept there. The next morning she heard the owner of the barn screaming, “Come out!” She went out of where she had been sleeping and put her hands up. He asked, “Who are you?”

My great-grandmother answered, “I am a prisoner of the Germans. I was shot yesterday and needed to rest.”

The barn owner said, “You must be the girl who got away! I know you are telling the truth! The German men came and told me to bury eight women. When I got there to bury them, there were only seven bodies!” The man took my great-grandmother inside and fed her.

For the rest of the war she worked at different people’s houses every day. She cooked, cleaned, and helped do work. And she listened to what they would say.

Later, when the Holocaust was over, she went to a hospital and they pulled the bullet out of her head.

My great-grandmother believed that the reason she lived such a long life is she was kind and comforting to the girl who slept next to her in the barn in the last moments of her life.

Yaelle Merrill; New York, USA


1. In 1993 Czechoslovakia was split — mainly into two countries: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Sevlus is now part of Ukraine.



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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