To the liberators:
I, Sara Atzmon Gottdiener am grateful to you in my name and the names of my fellow survivors of the death train you saved from a sure death so many years ago. You and your division have saved us at the last moment.
I was 12 years old then and was weighing about 37.5lb.
Although the great distance and the fact that I don’t know you personally, I have to confess that within my soul I feel very close to you as if I’ve known you all my life.
You then appeared to us like angels from heaven and saved us all from a sure death.
I always wanted to know, how did we seem to you? What did you think
about us? All of you were at your best, winning the war for the whole
world and on the other hand we, who didn’t even look like human beings!
We the Gottdiener family have lost 60 of our own family alone through
all kinds of indescribable deaths…
Half a year in Bergen Belzen was a university for life. We didn’t take a
shower for half a year, we were covered with lice and boils. We got once
a week bread made of sawdust about one slice a day and soup made of
potato skins. Recently I watched a documentary showing the kitchen
supervisor signing a receipt for meat delivered from the crematorium,
and so without knowing we became cannibals. The Dutch Jews were our
neighbors. I watched the piles of bodies coming out of their camp every
day, among them was Anna Frank. (in my work I try to draw their
On April 6th 1945 we were taken out at night, the British were bombing,
we were given live typhoid vaccines and the march to the train started for
7 kilometers. Most of us were by now sick or very weak. We were 6 days
in the train until it stopped. The German soldiers asked for civilian clothes
and told us to say to the Americans that we were treated well by them.
They ran away. We saw a whole German hospital take off, bandaged and
all. That night we found ourselves in the middle of a cannon battle
between the Americans and the Germans.
The next day, April 13th 1945, [was] a sunny and quiet day. Two of my sisters
went looking for food, on their way they met you our “American Angels”
and you know the rest of the story. I remember the soup you mentioned
that you have brought from Hilersleben. (I didn’t draw the picture yet)…
We were all half dead and wouldn’t have last another week.
So, the fact is that you came along and gave us our lives back-a new life!
Three months following our release we were finally in the Land of Israel…
As of today we’re 8 remaining brothers and sisters that aren’t young
anymore, but we remember, never forgot! We are busy commemorating
our terrible ordeal, in schools, army bases telling about the miracles that
kept us alive so many years ago…
I will be very happy to meet you and the rest of our saviors as soon as we can organize this meeting.
I hope you have surfed my website, there you can see some of my paintings and hear some of the music.
Sara Atzmon Gottdinier.