I defeated Mengele and I defeated Hitler and I defeated all the Nazis in the world.I am here, alive

Vera Kriegel Grossman will take part at the virtual March of The Living om Holocaust Remembrance Day, on April 8th, 2021


When I arrived at Auschwitz it was daylight. I was a very curious girl so I saw things that a six-year-old should not see. They started to separate the people, my sister and I stayed with our mother. I remember a group of Nazis that were standing in a circle, taking babies from their mothers' hands, tossing them in the air, smashing their heads with rifle butts and laughing.

Suddenly we heard shouting in German, "twins out". Our mother did not know if she should declare us as twins, because she was afraid they would kill us. She asked God for a sign and then, out of nowhere, a woman appeared in a striped coat and told our mother in Yiddish that it was good to have twins in this place. She said, "here are my twins" and we were taken to Mengele with our mother.

Mengele imprisoned us like chickens: 200 people in a shack that was designed for 28 horses. There was straw on the floor, a bucket for needs in the corner, no entry and exit was allowed, and we were left there for two months. Like animals we were all naked and got shots in our backs, which made us vomit, gave us a fever and other symptoms.

Mengele had an obsession with changing the color of our eyes, from brown to blue. When I entered his lab, there were eyes hanging on a board in every color. At one point I could not bear it anymore and fainted. The next thing I remember was that I was lying on a stone surface and a substance was dripped into my eyes. I did not know then, but today I know: when babies were born in Auschwitz, and they usually had bright eyes, they drew fluid from their eyes and that is what was dripped into ours.

I fought with Mengele. If he had managed to finish the experiment, he wanted to do on me, I would have been in the crematorium a long time ago, but he probably wanted to keep trying to do more and more experiments on me because he saw me as a warrior. I fought and did not let Mengele get under my skin. I fought him with all my might. This whole nightmare with Mengele lasted for almost a year. Even though I lived among this death, I always had a glimmer of hope in my heart. I said “there is a God and God will help me.”

When the Nazis felt they were losing the war, they started burning all of the shacks and gathered us in the big square, in Umschlagplatz. Some 3,000 people put us in rows of five and said "march, march, march." March where? We did not know, but whoever bent down or showed signs of weakness – got a bullet on the spot. It was snowing and cold, minus 30 degrees. "Run, run stinking, filthy Jews," shots over our heads, shots around our ears. We had to run in the heavy snow. We want to live, not die, and we are seven-year-olds. We do not want to die.

I walk the March of the Living with my head held high, like a peacock. I want to say: look at me, I finally have a country, I belong somewhere, I have a name, my name is Vera Kriegel Grossman and I have a glorious family. And look, I was here and here they wanted to make me disappear from the world, but God wanted otherwise and here I am, alive and I have an exemplary family. I defeated Mengele and I defeated Hitler and I defeated all the Nazis in the world. I am here, alive and proud. I am on the top of the world. 

International March of the Living will hold a Virtual March on Holocaust Remembrance. The Virtual March will premiere Thursday April 8th on Israel media at 3:00PM IL, followed by the global broadcast  at 10:00 AM ET / 4:00 PM CT / 5:00pm IL and will be followed immediately by an online memorial ceremony with the first torch of remembrance lit by President Rivlin.

One of the most moving aspects of the March of the Living is the opportunity for participants to memorial plaques with personal messages on the train tracks at Birkenau. The public is invited to participate and have their personal message virtually placed against the backdrop of the infamous train tracks at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.  Individual plaques and messages can be placed via a dedicated minisite https://nevermeansnever.com