Survivor STORY

Lillian (Szyandle Laya) Skovronek was born in Krzepice, Poland. During the war she was a prisoner in Niederkirchen and Graben labor camps and was liberated from Bergen-Belsen.

After liberation, Lillian immigrated to the United States, where she worked for AT&T for twenty years. She was a founding member of Congregation B'nai Torah in Atlanta, where she was a frequent volunteer. Additionally, Lilly volunteered at several nursing homes and was voted the Atlanta Jewish Times' Volunteer of the Year 2002.

Lillian passed away in 2004 in Atlanta.
Life and Survival in Europe

Oh, God, I'll never forget it. I remember when the Germans, how they were upset and they were afraid. And two days in advance they didn't let us out of the barracks. They told, anybody who will leave the barracks will get shot. And somebody, they killed a couple of us. And then, all of a sudden, on the 15th we saw they were running like, unbelievable, terrified.

Where were they running?
Back and forth, on the grounds and everything. And then all of sudden we heard loudspeakers in every language, in Polish, in German, in every language, loudspeakers. So we went out of the camps, you know, of the barracks. I remember like now, I will never forget that English, a tank, two tanks I have seen. They came into Bergen-Belsen, where we were, you know in that, in the, oh God, barracks, passed by there, where we were, two tanks. And my sister was very ill at the time. And I'll never forget. She says, "I want to be free." And she couldn't walk. She crawled out, practically. She wanted to be free.

What happened?
They set up showers. And you should have seen what was going on, because we didn't have a shower as long as I was in Graben, in Bergen-Belsen, for six months. Because if you got a little water, you didn't know, are you going to drink it, are you washing your face, or rinsing your mouth? We used to get a black coffee, and the same thing was. We didn't see a drop of water for almost six weeks. Nothing. And the toilets, you know how the toilets were there. There was a ditch that had a board over it. And how many people died when they went to the toilet. They were so weak and sick that they fell in, right in. It was just unbelievable. A human being cannot imagine how it was. And I found my sister, because she was taken to camp about...I was taken in March, and she was taken in September, September before. And we met in Bergen-Belsen. She was in that death march, which they marched them for weeks to Bergen-Belsen, and she was in that march.


Your sister was?
My sister, Rose. And she died five days after we were liberated.

And she marked it down, because I kept repeating it. I was in high fever, you know, with typhoid, and I kept repeating that address constantly and she marked it down then asked me who it was. And I said, "Where did you get it from?" And she says, "From you!" And I couldn't believe it! And you know what I did? I wrote to that address, to her, but I didn't know that she married here and she had already a little girl. And the letter came to the landlady. She used to live in a furnished room. You know, years ago, every single girl lived in a furnished room. So, the woman knew her friend, which was not far, living from wherever she was living. And she brought the letter to that friend of my sister. And she brought it to my sister, but my sister was in the country, in the Catskills with her little girl, so her husband had it. So, she brought it to her husband. You can imagine. And he called her and told her that she has a letter from home. But I wrote her in the letter that our parents are dead, and I don't know where my brother is, and Rose passed away. So when he went to visit her for the weekend, he didn't take the letter. He didn't want her... So, she carried on, "Why didn't you bring the letter?" He said, "I forgot, I forgot." But he didn't bring it on purpose. Then she didn't let go, and he brought her the letter.

The day, it was raining and it was snowing. Rain and snow, I'll never forget. January 14th, on a Tuesday. And I'll never forget it. It was raining and snowing. And we arrived, must have been at about ten o'clock in the morning. My sister and brother-in-law and the little girl were there. I recognized my sister, of course, right away. And then he took the baby, and she was, Harriet, almost three years old. And he went home and my sister was there until about 7 o'clock. I got off the boat then she took me in the train, and from the train we went home. And I came into the house, was seven o'clock in the evening. I remember like now when I walked into the house. Oh boy, that was heaven, when I walked into that house. It felt so good.

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