Chella Kryszek- Survivor Biography
Chella Kryszek was born in The Hague, in Holland. When she was five years old, her mother died, so her father was left to take care of Chella and her older sister. Her father was concerned that they weren’t going to get the education they needed, so he decided to send Chella and her sister to a Jewish orphanage for a few years until he could get married again. At the orphanage for the next four years, Chella learned to love her religion.
At the end of 1939, Chella’s father remarried and took the two girls out of the home to live with him again. In May of 1940, the war broke out and the Germans took over. Jewish children were not allowed to go to school and were forced to wear the yellow star on their sleeves. One day, Chella’s family received a letter in the mail saying all 16 year olds needed to go to the train station to work in a labor camp, so Chella’s older sister Flora went into hiding. A little later on, Chella’s father was taken away as well. A week later, her stepmother was also gone and Chella was all alone. Chella’s stepmother had told her to wait in the house for someone who would take care of her, and one day a neighbor came for her and hid her with her sister.
The girls hid for several months, unable to do much of anything. Chella’s father heard word that his labor camp would soon be sent to Germany, so he planned a bicycle accident, breaking both of his legs so that he could stay in the hospital a little longer. When they found out the hospital was going to be raided, Chella’s family went to get him before it was too late.
When Chella was 15 years old, there was a house-to-house search to evacuate everyone to the inner city, so Chella and her sister were forced to stay with different families. One day when Chella went to visit her father, guards came in and captured her, separating the men from the women. They were taken to a train station and then to a Dutch transportation camp. After some time, Chella and her sister said goodbye to their father and were transferred to a forced labor camp in Holland to make electronics. A few months later, they were put into cattle cars, traveling for four days until they arrived at Auschwitz.
At Auschwitz, Chella was shaved and given a number tattooed on her arm. Chella and her sister had to prove that they were strong enough to work even though they were starving. The girls were put in another labor camp until the Russian front came closer to them and they were forced to go on a death march. They walked for days, given very little food and Chella became very ill. For months, Chella and her sister were on and off of trains, not knowing where they were traveling. At last, they arrived in Copenhagen and the German guards were gone, and the Red Cross and the King of Denmark welcomed them to freedom.
Chella and her sister found their stepmother’s family and they discovered that the rest of their family had all been killed. After the war, Chella moved to England and got married, later joining her sister in America. She moved to Portland, Oregon and had two sons and a daughter.