Lucille Eichengreen

Lucille Eichengreen: Coming of Age in the Polish Ghetto

Lucille Eichengreen

Lucille Eichengreen

In 1925, Lucille was born in Hamburg, Germany and lived with her mother Sala Landau, and her father, Benjamin

Landau.  Her sister, Karin, was born in 1930.  On October 27, 1938, her father was arrested for the first time, but returned later in spring of 1939.  On the same day that World War II began, her father was taken again, but only his ashes were returned in September 1941.  Lucille was 16 years old in 1941 when her regular schooling ended after being deported to the Lódz Ghetto in Poland where she remained for nearly four years.  Lucille arrived in Auschwitz in August, 1944 and was later transferred to the work camp, Dessauerufer in October 1944.  She was then transported to the slave labor camp in Neungamme in November and December of 1944.  There, Lucille and other inmates cleared bombed buildings and shipyards until the long walk to Bergen-Belsen in February and March of 1945 where she was finally liberated in April 1945.

Describing life in Poland leading up to Kristallnacht: Being beaten on the street, having stones thrown at us, somebody was even spitting at us, calling us horrible names. The Jewish cemetery was closed, at least one or two of them, and the dead supposedly reburied but not entirely, and on its place is a shopping center or whatever. The memories were those of being very restricted, having to give up the apartment, moving to another apartment, moving to a furnished room, moving to another furnished room. It was like, like a wall that was closing in, and you didn’t really know what you had done to deserve this.

Children waiting in line to be deported from Lodz Ghetto to Chlemno Extermination Camp.

Children waiting in line to be deported from Lodz Ghetto to Chlemno Extermination Camp.

I remember walking to school. I was fourteen years old. I saw the Great Synagogue burning inside and out. I saw Germans in uniform laughing and burning books. We turned around. We walked home and the phone began to ring. We were informed that men between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five are being arrested. I remember broken store windows, merchandise on the street. I remember being very frightened. And I really had no idea what this meant.

I was very much afraid, because if a building is burning and people stand around it and laugh, it doesn’t make sense. I could have seen water or fire brigade, but not laughter, because it wasn’t funny. So it was very, very frightening. It was frightening to see mountains of books being burned, and in those days, I did not know the saying by Heinrich Heine, “When they start burning books, it won’t be long before they start burning human beings,” and that was written 200 years prior. So, it is very hard to tell you what fear is like, fear is when you turn around and walk along a wall and don’t look back, and try to go as fast as possible without drawing attention to yourself. That is fear.

Eichengreen1WEBsmall >> PDF of the story mural tile display, designed by Simone Schiffmacher
Holocaust-Memorial-Logo_100x100 >> Return to the Holocaust Memorial Stories