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Lillian Feintuch was born in Balmazjvaros, Hungary in 1934. Her life was very comfortable living in Hungary until 1944, when the Nazis took over her father’s business. In April of that year, her father, a very caring and loving person, moved the family to the Ghetto, yet the day after, he was taken away to Munkatabor, a slave labor camp. Two months later, the rest of the family would be taken to Debrecen Brick Factory ghetto. Conditions there were horribly degrading. Lillian speaks of one day when a Nazi announced that all families with four or more children needed to take their belongings down into the yard. They ended up being loaded in cattle cars on a train headed for Auschwitz. After 12 days in the crowded car, the train suddenly stopped. As it turned out, after standing still all day in the hot sun, the train couldn’t go any further because the tracks had been bombed. This would be the first of several miracles that saved her family’s life. Afterwards, Lillian and her family were taken to a concentration camp in Austria. Once again they had good fortune. She mentioned their Lagerfuhrer, the head camp officer, was somewhat compassionate. While she couldn’t understand how he, being a high German officer could accomplish what he did, the Lagerfuhrer took care of them by producing papers that kept them from being sent to Theresienstadt, a camp in Germany where tens of thousands of people were murdered. One day, while working outside with her mother, after their barrack buildings were bombed out, an Austrian women, seeing Lillian, offered to take her to her home. There she was fed lots of food, in particular Lillian recalls being given an apple. The lady noticed that Lillian wasn’t eating it because she had three brothers who were also very hungry. Feeling so hungry, yet considerate of her brothers, Lillian took the apple with her at the end of the day and gave each of her brothers a piece. After Passover in 1945, Lillian along with the other inmates, were ordered on a Death March. With the Russians on the heels of the Nazis, everyone was forced to leave the camp. At the outset, the Nazis shot randomly into the group of inmates, but fortunately Lillian’s family survived. After a few weeks of being on the march, they realized the Nazis who were leading the march weren’t watching everyone so closely anymore. Lillian and her mother, who had become quite ill, slipped out of line and knocked on the home of a farmer’s house. Fortunately, the farmer offered to let them stay in his home, putting new straw down in the corner of his stable. Lillian recalls putting her head down on the straw, thinking this felt like a 5 star hotel. She even liked the smell of the horses and cows. In the morning they were given bread, butter and milk. Early the next day, Lillian walked around the area to explore, and saw a Nazi running towards her. She found herself literally waiting to be shot, clearly being terribly afraid this would be the end of her life. Catching Lillian very much by surprise, the Nazi started to cry as he came closer, swearing he thought Lillian was his daughter who he hadn’t seen for two years. Not being able to imagine this happening to his own daughter, he displayed deep compassion for her. The Nazi soldier told Lillian and her family to discard their Jewish stars, and pointed to a place high into mountains where they should go and hide. He even brought them food from a German kitchen for their journey. Incredibly, this was the 2nd time Lillian and her family’s lives were saved by a Nazi. They went up to the mountains, found an older lady that let them stay in her stable and remained there until end of war. Reflecting back, Lillian is certain these experiences taught her how to cope with adversity and be prepared for any situation. She was shaped early in life into a mature, responsible person who had a good instinct for survival. Years later, Lillian’s brother continues to have nightmares about the war. Lillian however, made up her mind not to think about these memories every day. Instead she has chosen to do her best to be a positive person, bringing up her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in a very positive environment. Mrs. Feintuch’s personal victory over the Nazis truly is her wonderful family. She strives everyday to help others and make our world a better place to live. Lillian Feintuch
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