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A Turning Point in my Survival

by Helen Terris nee Elinka Cyderowicz

   After the Germans invaded Lida, and chased us out of our homes and put us into a ghetto, my parents made a deal with a Polish couple by the name of Krieger. The Kriegers were friends and Mr. Krieger was a business associate of my father. I knew them both very well. They were childless. I was a lively little girl with blond hair. They would hold me on their laps and always made a fuss over me. My parents gave them a great deal of money and they said that if anything happened to my mother and father, they would take care of me and hide me. 

    When the Lida ghetto was liquidated in September of 1943, we were led in groups out of the ghetto to the railroad station. As our group was being led to the railroad station, my mother pushed me out and said " Gei tzu Kriegeroven" ("Go to the Kriegers). I ran to their house and told Mrs. Krieger that I came for safekeeping as she had promised. She started to cry and said she was afraid that the Germans would kill her and her husband and I could not stay there. I pleaded with her, saying I would stay in the attic or the basement or the shed and nobody would know I was there. She still refused and I had to leave. I made my way to the train station to look for my mother. 

   The train station was a scene of chaos. People were milling about waiting to get on the train, a group of Germans armed with rifles were standing and watching and herding everyone toward the train. I looked and looked, but could not find my mother. Finally, I found a cousin, Matle. Matle was a beautiful girl of twenty. She said " Elinka you come with us. We will find your mother later" and she took me by the hand. 

   After a while, as we waited to get on the train, a man came up to me and said " Elinka, your mother ran away. She is not here" When I heard that I knew that I had to get away. I could not get on the train if my mother was not there. Matle wouldn't let me go. She said the Germans would shoot me if I tried to flee. She held my hand real tight. I finally wrenched my hand away from hers and since I was very small I ran under the train between the wheels. and got out on the other side. I do not know the name of that man. I am not sure whether I knew him or not. He certainly knew my mother and me and he made sure that I knew that my mother got away. If it weren't for him, I would have gotten on the train and perished in the ovens of Maidanek with the rest of my family. 

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