There are so many Holocaust stories of families being separated during the war. The story of Ella Weiss and her daughter, Eva Gross, is a tale of the devotion of a mother and daughter who together survived deportation from their small Hungarian town, six concentration camps including Auschwitz, forced labor, death marches, and finally liberation.
When the Hungarian police came for Eva and her family, Eva’s aged grandfather had a premonition of what was to come. A religious man, he did not take his tallit and t’fillin. “Mein kinde, where we are going, I won’t need it.”
How Eva and Ella stayed together was a miracle. “My mother and I made up our minds that whatever had to be done, we would do to survive.” They protected each other through stays in six concentration camps.
On their arrival to Auschwitz another inmate warned them to register using different last names because the Nazis were separating family members. Ella used her maiden name and Eva took her father’s last name - they stayed together.
When guard dogs attacked Ella for using the latrine, Eva bandaged her leg with scraps of cloth torn from her dress so that the guards wouldn’t discover her injury. When Ella had trouble using the sewing machines in the factory where they worked, Eva did both jobs so that Ella wouldn’t be shipped out.
In winter of 1945 they were forced to march to Bergen Belsen. With no coats or shoes, many people died of starvation and exposure. “My mother gave up hope; she grew weak and couldn’t go on. She said, ‘let me die here.’ A guard told us to drag her, you are almost there.” We made it to Bergen Belsen where the English liberated us.
Today Eva speaks frequently at schools. Her message is always the same: “Don’t hate, it is a terrible thing. Everyone is born innocent. There is no reason to hate.”