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95-year-old Toronto woman and Auschwitz survivor speaks out for those who lost their lives

A 95-year-old Auschwitz survivor feels that she lived through the camp so that she could witness the devastation and pass on the story of the murdered.
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta

A 95-year-old Auschwitz survivor feels that she lived through the concentration camp so that she could witness the devastation and pass on the story of those who didn’t make it.

She told CBC, “We had to be messengers, somebody had to survive … and tell the story.”

Edith Grosman—now a Toronto resident—was sent to Auschwitz when she was only 17 years old. She and her sister, Lea, were transported in 1942 from Slovakia.

Grosman recalled being constantly fearful when she was in the camp as she witnessed murder constantly.

“We hoped that somebody will survive … and in the end we say: we were stronger than Hitler!” she said.

Grosman made it through three years of life in the camp but lost her sister along the way.

“I came in and I saw her — she was on the floor, on the stone floor in a coma.”

After Lea became ill, the Nazi’s killed her in a gas chamber on Dec. 5, 1942 along with thousands more, according to CBC.

Grosman said her sister had the ability to do “something important, but they cut off her life.”

“It was hard, and it’s hard ’til now .. I cannot understand anything of it.”

After starting to limp after contracting tuberculosis, Grosman was helped by a Jewish doctor who told her, “Edith, you cannot go to work like this. You will be in the same day in the gas chamber.”

“Her name was Manci Schwalbova, a very nice woman, and I can say that she saved me,” Grosman recalled

Author, Heather Dune MacAdam, said that sisterhood was an important part of getting through Auschwitz.

She added, “What happened with many girls if they lost a family member, a sister or a close cousin, is that somebody else often stepped into that place.”

In her book 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz, MacAdam interviewed survivors of the camp including Grosman.

“You couldn’t survive Auschwitz on your own, you had to have somebody with you who had your back and and helped you look after yourself — and somebody that you could look after.” she said.

The doctor who took care of Grosman would keep her safe and resting until they started to arrange a new transport. She would then send Grosman to work while she appeared healthy which is the reason she survived.

When Grosman was eventually freed from the camp, she recalled feeling a great euphoria.

“It’s a hard life, so that’s why I go, and I speak.”

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Sam Edwards
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