Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Pauline Kleinberg - October 28, 1982

Saying Goodbye to Sister

By the time I got back home I was probably in ten hospitals. Every time we got sick again because we--it was a long time. I really don't know. It was a superpower that kept us and that we are capable for the ye...for the rest of our lives. You know, it's uh, to be--to function normal--I don't know if it's normal, but to function--and if somebody's wondering when you born, now I'll tell you when I was born, I was born in 1945, May the 5th. This is my birthday, you can write it down now.

What year was it?

Nineteen forty-five, May the 5th.

Husband: She was liberated.

Okay. How did you say goodbye to your sister?

I didn't say goodbye. I didn't know we not going to see each other. I just wanted to stay, she said she can't because ??? and she told me in Polish ??? and she says, "My, my feet--my legs don't want to serve me any longer." It was nicer said in Polish, you know. So I said, "Manya, if you can't walk, I'm not going to walk." She wanted--we wanted to be together. But uh, guards wouldn't let us. They ripped--they took me away, you know, they wanted to take her--pick her up and too--and make her march further, but she couldn't walk. And there was a group of others. She said, that day, thirty-six girls died--the last day. Already by the Red Cross help came on that day too late for her. I didn't know I'm going to pull through, but I did. For her, evidently, one day too late, or maybe a few hours. You know, the older sister was about three years older than me--a young girl. She kept me through. She was tall, she kept me all through every run of way, every--all over, through the concentration, through the--even through the death march, just to survive. And what hurted me the most, I said--I asked myself, "Why, am I the worst? Why did I have to survive when everybody's dead? What good is it?" Then I said, "If everybody were dead--be dead, then I, I"--you know, I ask myself and I answer the question, but I was--I must have been a different person. Now I couldn't do this. I became to, you know, everyday I talked to myself, I didn't--I said "Why, why me? I was the ugliest, and, and, and why me? I, I wasn't really so good," I said, "they were so much better. She kept me alive all through, from the first time, when, when things went wrong. Why me?" And, and she had to pull through all this. She was the one when I said on the road, "Manya, I can't walk. Leave me, you just go on. I can't." I told her, "I'll be better if I leave behind and get a bullet." She said, "Remember Paula, just you and me, we're going to sit just in one room all by ourselves by a whole loaf of bread." It was the best thing you could ever think of on the road. She--that's how she tried. And she pulled me. And she had another girl help me, "Paula can't walk, Paula can't walk. Help me." The girls died. But now she helped me. And the next day she was dead. From thousand five hundred to a hundred and twenty girls, miserable deaths. The girl that died--the girls, girls that were shooting, like, like, like, uh, like throwing a pea against the wall. And I was--and then I said, I'm--I don't know if it's lucky--I didn't call lucky, but I thought it's just for history one of us had to live.

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