Survivor STORY

Rachel Lager Wise grew up in Kovno, Lithuania, where she was forced to move into the ghetto after the Nazi occupation of Lithuania. Rachel's, and her husband, Isaac's, five-year-old son, Chaim, was murdered in a massacre of children that took place on March 27, 1944. Rachel was deported to Stutthof concentration camp. After liberation, Rachel made her way back to Kovno, now occupied by the Soviet Army, to look for family members, and was only able to escape using false papers when she found out that Isaac, who had been a prisoner in Dachau, was alive in the American zone.

After several years waiting for permission to emigrate to America, Rachel and Isaac were allowed to travel to the United States, where they made a new home in Atlanta, where Rachel had relatives.


Well, we been in, I been liberated. I been not in the same area as my husband. We been in the Russian zone, close to Poland more. And I been there 'til the last minute with my mother and she died in the camp. She didn't made it. And I been with cousins, and we, the Russian liberated me the 21st of January, we been liberated.

What year?

'45. And the Russian came, they find me and my two cousins. We been in the same camp. Her mother died there too. Saki, you know, you know her. And they went to Israel and I went to Lithuania, because they came, the Russian, and they free us. And they wanted, they asking always, "Where you want to go?" And lots of people want to go to Israel, to South Africa but, and in America. Well, you can not tell them. Russian people, you know, they what liberating you. It's not like now. Then, was very strict. You had to tell you going home. If you like to go home, this is Lithuania, is my country, what I been born and I had to go. Then I went there. But they liberated me very weak, then they didn't let me go right away to Lithuania, to Kovno, but they took me to a big hospital in Bresklitofsk, a big city, a very nice hospital. They gave me the first help to for me to get well. And then they put me on a train to Lithuania and I came there and then I heard from my husband, I found out that he's alive and I got the letter. And I start to work on this. We had to go. I knew that he... I been in a bad shape too. If they catching you that you wanted to go away from there, they putting you in another camp in Siberia.

Importance of Family

I never been to a doctor, you know, since I been liberated. Then I went to a doctor, a gynecologist, and I wanted to see maybe. We lost one child; Hitler killed my son. He was 5 and half years old. All the children they took away from us, not only mine. But this was a tragedy big and we wanted another child. Then I wanted to come to a doctor to see, because a lots of people couldn't have children. We been through plenty there. Then a doctor told me, "Nothing wrong with you. You go ahead and try it."

And the doctor was very sweet, an older man. He says, "It's wonderful, you're pregnant and everything is good." But a little later, you know, two or three months later I'm coming again to check myself and he was very careful and looking one time and another time, with everything. And he says, and I said, "Doctor, the child is alive? Why you are so, take such a long time to see the heart's beating." He says, "Honey, don't worry, I hear two hearts beating. And you got a twins." Then we got a son and a daughter and we been very happy. And they, we came here, to make short, when they been two years old. Then two years we been waiting, another two years is four years we been in Germany. We came to this country in '49, in April the 9th.

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Rachel Lager Wise