JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Sheindi Miller-Ehrenwald, a 90-year-old resident of Jerusalem, is a Holocaust survivor like some 200,000 other Israelis ,but she has just revealed a unique diary which she kept while in the ghetto and in Auschwitz. Sheindi’s diary, which may be almost the only written testimony from within the camp of the horrors people underwent there, has made the nonagenarian a celebrity and the subject of a documentary entitled “Sheindi’s Diary.”
Miller-Ehrenwald hid her diary for seventy five years. What made her publish it only now? Miller-Ehrenwald told German magazine Bild, which published her story exclusively and initiated the documentary, that “Only now am I ready to tell the story of my diary to the world. I will soon die, and I don’t want the people who have been murdered to be forgotten.”
Sheindi first kept a diary before the war reached the small town of Galanta where she lived, now in Slovakia but back then a part of Hungary. The town had a big Jewish community of 1200 members. Her father Leopold Ehrenwald had a wine shop and her mother Cecilia helped out in the shop.
The second-youngest of seven children, Sheindy lived a carefree life despite the war. Sheindi attended seventh grade and dreamed of becoming a teacher. She loved to write and kept a regular diary.
On the 20 April 1944, SS troops on trucks rolled through the streets of Galanta. Eichmann’s henchmen pillaged Jewish shops, dispossessed their owners and drove people onto the streets. All Jews had to wear a yellow star.
A few days later, Hungarian police officers knocked on the Ehrenwalds’ door and ordered them to leave their home. The parents, children, and Sheindi’s grandparents were only allowed to take a few belongings with them.
14-year-old Sheindi documented faithfully in her diary how the family was driven out of their home:
“We’re packing. Everybody is holding something in their hands. Hurry up, hurry up. Everything is already removed from the apartment. I quickly run inside again and look around. I cannot bear it and leave the apartment again. The door slams shut. I don’t see it, because I’m not looking, but I can hear the keys in the lock. A piece of paper is glued against it and stamped. I turn around, and the door is locked forever. It is locked, and we are chased away. From the place that my father has bought. A piece of my heart was broken.”
Today, Sheindi says: “Maybe our parents knew back then where they wanted to bring us. But of course we did not suspect that they wanted to kill us.”
Miller-Ehrenfeld described in her diary the ordeal of deportation, after SS soldiers and Hungarian police directed the Jewish population to the Galanta train station. Thousands of people from the nearby towns and villages were already waiting there. Chaos, fear, and terror reign. Soldiers shouted names and wrote down lists. The desperate people were told to stand in line. The soldiers, greedy for jewelry and money, searched the bags of the frightened women.
Sheindi wrote almost dispassionately that “The women had to go the right, the men to the left for the body check in a small cabin. A part of the luggage came into the wagon, the rest was thrown away. I reclaimed the things, and as an answer, they threw them at my face. However, we didn’t get them back. It didn’t hurt. We were done. We carried the things into our wagon.”
Amazingly, Sheindi did not give up her writing even as she was transferred from a transit camp to Auschwitz, hiding the diary in her dress. “I’m just surprised by how I could write all of this,” she says now “It shouldn’t have been possible. It was so dangerous there. And still I wrote.”
At first Sheindi wrote on paper pages and rolled up the paper, hiding it in crevices in the barracks. Later she was transferred together with her sister Yitti to an arms factory in Lower Silesia, where she was forced to do hard labor. Throughout the whole ordeal, she kept the pages of her diary with her — just crumpled pieces of paper.
In Karl Diehl’s arms factory in Peterwaldau near Breslau, she collected discarded index cards and used them to pursue her diary. She managed to keep her notes hidden until her liberation in May 1945.
Her parents, sister and 3 of her brothers perished in the war. Only her sister Yitti and brother Yechezkel survived.
Revealed for the first time in an exhibition, Sheindi Ehrenwald’s personal testimony of the persecution, deportation and annihilation of the Hungarian Jews is on show at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin.
The exhibition “Deported to Auschwitz — Sheindi Ehrenwald’s Notes,” organized in cooperation with the Axel Springer publishing group, opens on January 23 and will remain a part of the permanent exhibition. Sheindi’s Diary, a short documentary by Bild reporters on the story of the Holocaust survivor, was also released to accompany the exhibition.