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Magdalena Swinkelsová, roz. Hackerová (1926) - Biography

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I have survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen and at the end I was nearly shot by a warden immediately before the liberation

Magdalena Swinkelsová, née Hackerová, was born in a Jewish family in Uzhhorod. When this area of Carpathian Ruthenia became occupied by Hungary in 1939, the family suffered many hardships. Magdalena was dismissed from school and her father and one of her brothers died. The Jewish population of Uzhhorod faced various restrictions and they were forced to live in a ghetto. The critical situation culminated in April 1944 when Magdalena together with her sisters and mother left with a transport for Auschwitz-Birkenau. The family got separated on the arrival ramp in Auschwitz. Magdalena remained with only one of her sisters, and she then continued together with her through the many concentration and labour camps as the Nazi war industry needed human labour. After an exhausting death march Magdalena eventually got to the concentration camp in Bergen-Belsen. In spite of the ever-present horror, there were signs that she would after all live to see the liberation. As the English army was approaching, the wardens were hastily leaving the camp. In the ensuing chaos the emaciated girls summoned courage to open the door of their barrack and look out. A warden started shooting into the group of the curious and devastated female prisoners. He shot eight of them to death. Magdalena was hit in her hand and neck. Fortunately, English soldiers were not far away and they provided the necessary aid. After the war she married and moved to Karlovy Vary and later in the 1970s she married in Belgium, and from there she has travelled almost the entire world. At present Magdalena lives in Karlovy Vary.

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