Survivor STORY

Denise Weinblum grew up in Paris, France. She, her sister and brother survived the war in hiding with righteous gentiles.
From a Child's Perspective

Again, we are dealing with children. I was what, nine, ten years old? What does a ten years old understand what's going on in the world? All I know, I knew at that time is, that's the only thing I remember, is the pain of being separated from my parents. And not knowing where they were, not having any news, any possibility to know if they were ok. That's the only thing I remember, really.

Separation from and Finding Family

My mother volunteered to help those people who were coming back. And she did that mostly on Saturday and Sunday, because the other day she tried to work a little bit and get a little money. And so she saw them coming back, some of the deportee, from the camp coming back, and she asked and nobody ever heard of my father. And then one day, exactly, I think it was May, at the end of May, sometime at the end of May of 1944 we received a card with my father's handwriting saying that he was in Ebensee, has just been liberated, he is, he didn't say he was in good health, but he said he was fine, and he would come back soon. How soon we didn't know. But it was already the joy of knowing that he was alive and he will come back. And on May 6th of 1944, that was a Sunday, Sunday morning, 7 o'clock in the morning, my mother was still in bed, and we were still in bed, and she was thinking of going to that place to help out. And she heard noisy steps, footsteps, on the steps coming up to our apartment, and she knew, and she knew that it was him. And so she got up in her nightgown and opened the door and there he was, still in his army shoes, without socks, and his striped clothes, because he didn't want to change when he got to that relief station. They wanted to give him clothes to change, he didn't want to, so he came as he was. His head was completely shaved and he was so thin. It was unbelievable.

Survivor's Guilt

When he came back he started talking and telling and talking and telling. All night long he was keeping my mother awake and telling her what happened, what he did. And that was going on for over a year, until one day he said, "That's it. No more. I am not going to talk any more about it." And he didn't. That was the end of it. And I think it was not only him or my mother or us, but most of us, the people who suffered so much, we tried to start new lives and, that's what I think. I may be wrong, but that's what I think, that we tried to forget what we went through and not to think about it. And now that I can analyze that, I can say, why being guilty? It's not our fault. We didn't do nothing either to survive or not to survive. People helped us. We were lucky.

Denise Weinblum