Camp Survivors

Helen Farkas

Helen Farkas was born in Romania, as Helen Safa. She remembers the Hungarian occupation and growth of anti-Semitism very clearly. Helen's family was forced with all the other Jewish families in their community to move to a local ghetto, where they stayed for three to five weeks. They were then deported to Auschwitz. Helen endured a months-long death march until she and her sister made a daring escape.

After liberation, Helen made her way to Romania by walking and by hopping freight trains. When she arrived home, she was reunited with and married her pre-war fiancé and together they left Romania shortly after it came under communist rule. Helen now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and spends her time traveling to various schools and civic groups educating the public about the gruesome realities of the Holocaust.
Click here to view an excerpt from Helen's testimony.

Gloria Lyon

Gloria Hollander Lyon was born in 1930 in Nagy Bereg, Czechoslovakia. On the last day of Passover in 1944, Gloria and her family were rounded up and brought to a brick factory which served as a ghetto. Three weeks later, they were deported to Auschwitz. In an astonishing escape, Gloria was able to jump off a truck which would have carried her to her death in the gas chamber. Subsequently, she was transferred to six additional camps, and was finally rescued by the Swedish Red Cross.

Today, Gloria is an active Holocaust educator, has been the subject of a documentary film, and has just written a book about her life.
Click here to view an excerpt from Gloria's testimony.

Oskar Klausenstock

Oskar Klausenstock was born in Ciesezin, a little town in Poland. He was 17 years old when the war started. This is when his struggle with survival and bearing witness began. He fled to Russia, sometimes supporting himself as a weaver, a blacksmith, or welder. He also studied the Russian language and became a Russian teacher. When he came to the United States he attended medical school and became a physician.

When we interviewed Dr. Klausenstock and asked him if members of his family were killed during the Holocaust, he answered with one short sentence: "YES, ALL"
Click here to view an excerpt from Oskar's testimony.

Herman Shine and Max Drimmer

Both Max Drimmer and Herman Shine were born in Berlin and were childhood friends prior to the war. Both were taken to Sachsenhausen and kept from 1939 to 1942, after which they were moved to Auschwitz till 1944. Both escaped from Auschwitz in 1944 with the help of Joseph Runner, a German engineer. They hid in a hole dug up in a warehouse and then escaped at night walking 18 km to Joseph's house. There they hid three and a half months in Joseph's barn. They then moved to Gliwice, hiding in the home of Shine's future wife Marion Shlesinger, whom he met while working for the camp. After liberation, Drimmer was reunited there with his future wife Helga. Shine brought Marion from Gliwice and they were all married together on February 17, 1946, after which they all made their way over to San Francisco.

Max and Herman tell a truly exceptional story covering a wide panorama of experiences ranging from surviving the camps, to escape, to hiding with gentiles; with an underlying theme of their lasting bond of friendship. Their story is at turns thrilling, horrifying, moving, and even humorous and at all times an inspiration.
Click here to view excerpts from Herman's and Max's testimonies.