David Boder conducted this interview with Rita Benmajor on August 5, 1946 in Paris France. It appears that the interview was conducted in German. Ms. Benmajor was born in Salonika Greece, home to the largest Sephardic Jewish community in Europe. She was seventeen years old when, in 1943m she her parents, two brothers and her elder brother's wife and four children were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Except for Ms. Benmajor and her elder brother, all the rest were murdered.
Ms. Benmajor worked as a slave laborer in Auschwitz, first doing especially difficult road construction work and then for about a year in a shoe repair detail. In the fall of 1944, Ms. Benmajor was force marched to Ravensbruck, originally established as the only all-female camp in the Third Reich. There she once again had to engage in grueling road construction work. As the front neared, she was again deported, this time to first one and then to a second Ravensbruck sub camp.
She was finally liberated by the Russians in the closing days of the war. After a short period of recuperation, she and some two dozen other liberated prisoners walked across Germany for three weeks until they reached the American zone of occupation. As a result of her acquaintance with two French women, Ms. Benmajor came to Paris where she received help from refugee relief organizations. At the time of the interview Ms. Benmajor was living in a home for adult displaced people and hoping to join her uncles in Hartford Connecticut where she planned to build a new life in this country.
Ms. Benmajor's interview illustrates the role that youth, physical robustness, determination and luck played in survival. She came to Auschwitz in her late teenage years, possessed a resilient constitution, a strong will to live and the good fortune to escape extermination, which was the lot of almost all her close relatives. She was one of the handful of Jews from Salonika to survive the Holocaust.