Ruth Mittelmann

* 1925  

  • “One day, they sent me a message through Lenka that the women from Lidice invited me to join them at their table. It was a great honour, because they were aristocracy in the camp, let’s say. Nobody yelled at them, and so it was an honour. They had certainly heard about me from Lenka and they noticed that I was not speaking German. I really accepted their offer and I was getting food at their table – the table in quotation marks. One day, when food was distributed, I received a ladle with… The room commander who was distributing the food, had a large bone with meat on that ladle. I can still see it even now, she was holding it and she was mean, very mean and she was looking at us and deciding to whom she would give it so that the others would be jealous and she gave it to me so that all the others would envy me. Obviously, I suggested that each of the women take one bite of it, what else was there to do. I would not be able to eat it, that was not possible, the eyes of all of them were glued to me. And so we shared it.”

  • “One day they announced to us – we were block no. 27 – that all Jews, or Jewish women, we were only women there, from the block no. 27 would go to blocks no. 30 or no. 31, because there would be an evacuation. My Czech friends heard it and they said: ‘You will not go.’ On the day when the Jewish women left the block no. 27 they took me, they covered me with something, I don’t know what it was, but I was under some blankets, and they took away my triangle and they replaced it with their Czech triangle. I was no longer a Jew, I was a Czech. Only one of them, the room commander, knew about it, and she recognized me and she threatened that she would inform upon me, but the women told her: ‘If you turn her in, you cannot even imagine what would then happen to you.’ She thus did not dare.”

  • “I think that in 1938 one member of Maccabi Ha Tzair, his name was Imi Ruik, came to campaign, as we called it, to convince us to join the movement. I wanted to go and my mom agreed, but my father was strongly opposed to that. He was not a Zionist at all, he did not have a single Zionist cell in his body. He said: ‘Living with so many Jews in that Palestine, this does not suit me at all.’ He did not intend to go to Palestine. Nevertheless, I was going to Maccabi Ha Tzair.”

  • “They made us stand there, there were no beds or anything prepared for us, and so we were sitting there by such long tables with benches without any back supports. We were sitting by those tables with heads placed on our arms and we slept that way. I was not able to sleep. The Germans took that into consideration in the morning - they did a roll call inside the room, and we did not have to go out. They were counting us inside the room. I remember that I was standing there and swaying all the time, and I was afraid that I would fall asleep. Eventually it was over and they showed us our “beds,” but they were actually three-story bunks. I got my place in the middle together with two other girls. One girl’s name was Fula and the other one was Eťka. They were pious girls, but obviously that was not important at all there. We slept together all the time, three of us on one bunk, which was seventy centimeters wide, and if one of us wanted to turn... We were lying two of us facing in one direction, and the other one was facing in the opposite direction, and they were cousins and so they were lying facing the same direction and I was turned the other way round. When one of them turned, the others woke up, of course. We were only able to lie on our sides. But we got on well and we did not argue, never. There were many arguments because of these things, it was very uncomfortable.”

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There were times when I felt as if in another world

Ruth Mittelmann (Charlotta Neumannová). Bratislava, January 1949.
Ruth Mittelmann (Charlotta Neumannová). Bratislava, January 1949.
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Ruth Mittelmann was born on August 17, 1925 in Bratislava as Charlotta Neumann. She comes from a middle class Jewish family and she had two younger siblings. As a child she suffered from skeletal tuberculosis and for two and a half years she was receiving treatment in a sanatorium in Leysin in Switzerland. After her return home she studied at the Jewish grammar school in Bratislava and the in Budapest. From 1938 she was a member of the Zionist movement Maccabi Ha Tzair. From 1944 the family was hiding in Christian families, but in autumn 1944 their hiding place was discovered and they were arrested. In November 1944 Charlotta was deported to the assembly camp in Sereď, and from there she continued to the concentration camp in Ravensbrück. While here, she met women from the destroyed Lidice, and at the end of the war they saved her from evacuation and death march. She survived in the camp to see its liberation and then she returned to Bratislava where she was reunited with her mother, brother and sister. Her father had died in a labour camp in spring 1945. After graduation from grammar school she completed a preparatory course for immigrants to Palestine, but she eventually left the Zionist movement because she wished to continue with a study of medicine. She emigrated to Israel in 1949 with her husband-to-be. After their arrival to the new country she adopted the name Ruth and together with her husband they raised two sons. From 1969 they have been living in Jerusalem and both she and her husband work as volunteers in the museum Yad Vashem.