Erna de Vries | I wanted to see the sun again
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Curriculum Vitae

by Alexandra Hebbelmann

Though there were countless numbers of people being maligned, persecuted and deported under the National Socialist rule, Erna de Vries’ story is yet a special one: She is one of the few women who have witnessed the Death Block 25 in Auschwitz-Birkenau and survived. This touching story is what we would like to present at the next few pages.

interner Link Childhood and youth in Kaiserslautern
interner Link Night of Broken Glass
interner Link Apprenticeship in Cologne
interner Link Deportation and detention in Auschwitz-Birkenau
interner Link Detention in Ravensbrueck and liberation
interner Link Post-War-Period in Cologne and Lathen

Detention in Ravensbrück and liberation

September 1943 - October 1945

Arriving in Ravensbrueck, Erna Korn is quarantined at first too. Here she meets a woman whom she has already met in Auschwitz. Due to the fact that this woman is a member of the kitchen staff she henceforth gives Erna extra bread rations. By and large her living conditions improve significantly, compared to those in Auschwitz: For the first time her wounds are treated properly. The women are told that they have been required by Siemens for the production of telephones and microphones used in submarines. Despite a lack of workers now 20-year-old Erna Korn cannot start working there until 1944.

Together with some other women who have left their relatives behind in other camps she has an enquiry made and learns in the spring of 1944 that her mother has been killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau on November 8th, 1943.

With the situation at the front becoming increasingly critical living conditions in Ravensbrueck start worsening too: The main camp is seriously overcrowded, male prisoners are now being detained here, too. Lots of people only stay for one night before they are sent on to other camps. With the Allied forces approaching, the camp inmates are gradually dispatched to the north of Germany. For eight days Erna Korn and her fellow prisoners are being driven through the devastated country; the march is interrupted only by few short breaks. Erna is exhausted and close to giving up, but her friends persuade her to keep walking. The former inmates of Ravensbrueck are liberated by US troops near Mittenburg shortly after. For two months the three girls and many more former prisoners find refuge at an old barn and get by on begging. According to the Potsdam Conference in July 1945 the former prisoners are sent to reception camps near Lübeck, but Erna Korn refuses to be taken to any kind of camp again. Thus she is left alone at the barn and has to fend for herself for a short while. A farmer recognizes her as one of the prisoners and offers her to move in with them. Erna, weakened by illness, gladly accepts this offer. After her recovery she works for the family as a cook.

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