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Bertha Berkowicz-Lautman


Bertha Berkowicz-Lautman born 1925 in Banska Szczawnica (Slovakia)

As a 15-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl, Bertha was suddenly arrested in March 1942 and forcibly taken from the family home to the railway station in Poprad. There she joined nearly 1,000 Jewish girls, most of whom were between the ages of 16 and 21. Such was the strategy of the Slovak Nazis to begin the extermination of almost 60,000 Slovak Jews. Oftentimes young women were the first victims of war, which was supposed to paralyze resistance as a result of the shock suffered by the community. On the afternoon of March 26, 1942, the transport of 997 Slovak Jews arrived at Auschwitz. It was the first day of women’s transports arriving to the camp and the first mass transport of Jews being deported to Auschwitz. What was the stigma in Bertha’s case? Upon arrival in the camp, she received a number 1048, which was later tattooed on her forearm. She was placed in a working commando, which collected corpses of other prisoners and had to transport them to the crematorium. Her camp trail ran from Auschwitz I through Auschwitz II (Brzezinka) up until the liberation in April 1945 in Bergen Belsen. As a result of the Holocaust, she lost almost her entire family, but did not lose her deep faith.