Help Preserve Children’s Shoes at Auschwitz

Holocaust survivor Paula Lebovics asks the world to join the “Soul to Sole” campaign to preserve and restore 8,000 children's shoes that still remain in Auschwitz.

 Eitan Neishlos in Auschwitz (photo credit:  Tali Natapov - Neishlos Foundation)
Eitan Neishlos in Auschwitz
(photo credit: Tali Natapov - Neishlos Foundation)

Join the International March of the Living global campaign to preserve memory and to defend history: https://www.motl.org/soultosole

"I will never forget the moment I found shoes in Auschwitz. Toward the end of the war, I found mismatched shoes in the camp. I was so proud of myself to find two felt boots.  They were not a pair, and one was much too large, but as I had nothing, for a moment I considered myself rich. We must preserve the children's shoes". 

Holocaust survivor Paula Lebovics asks the world to join the  “Soul to Sole" campaign to preserve and restore 8,000 children's shoes that still remain in Auschwitz.

Born in September 1933, when the war at the age of 5, she knew nothing about what would destroy her life as she knew it.  Before the war her parents worked in her grandfather’s shoe store until 1940 when soldiers came and told her family that their part of the city was not for Jews.  Her family was deported to a ghetto and later to Auschwitz. She was 10 years old. 

Paula survived Auschwitz but lost her father, who was taken to the gas chamber on September 11, 1944, the second day of Rosh Hashana, and her sisters Chaya and Chana, who were murdered at the camp.  

The Nazis murdered more than 1.5 million children the Holocaust, 232,000 of them in Auschwitz-Birkenau. While the trains brought thousands to their deaths, their belongings, including their shoes, were taken from them to Germany, for the use of the German soldiers and people. As the Allies closed in on Berlin, the Nazis accelerated the pace of annihilation in the camps, but were no longer able to send the spoils of their murder back to Germany. Almost all that is left of the memory of these children who perished in Auschwitz are 8,000 shoes.

Susanne Eisner, Murdered in Auschwitz. (Credit: Auschwitz Museum)Susanne Eisner, Murdered in Auschwitz. (Credit: Auschwitz Museum)

However, these shoes, these silent witnesses to slaughter, stored and presented in the museum in Auschwitz for almost 80 years, are now deteriorating with the passage of time. Without restoring and reconstructing them, we will be losing not only the memory, but the last tangible evidence of the Nazis’ crimes. 

A child’s shoe at the Auschwitz Museum (Credit: Auschwitz Museum)A child’s shoe at the Auschwitz Museum (Credit: Auschwitz Museum)

To address this critical reality, International March of the Living stepped forward, in partnership with the Auschwitz Museum & Foundation, with the support of the Neishlos Foundation, to launch an international educational and fundraising campaign to raise the initial 500,000 Dollars needed for the process, to enable the immediate start of the restoration project. 

Thus far, the campaign has succeeded in raising $175,000, some of which was achieved through an online campaign which raised $40,000, including from individual who donated their birthday gifts, adults & school children, descendants of Holocaust survivor and many others.  

Other larger donations were provided by the Neishlos Foundation, led by philanthropist and businessman Eitan Neishlos, who donated 100,000 dollars to begin the project, and $35,000 donated by Discount Bank.

Eitan Neishlos: “By preserving these iconic shoes, we are preserving the memory of Jewish children who were the victims of perhaps the Nazis' most harrowing cruelty. It is our responsibility as the next generation to keep their memories alive and give them a voice from the darkness. Now is the time for our generation to do whatever we can to preserve the memory of the victims and honour the precious living survivors". 

International March of the Living Chairman Dr. Shmuel Rosenman and President Phyllis Greenberg Heideman: “For 35 years we have marched in the footsteps of the Jews who arrived to the death camps. Most of them were murdered upon arrival. As an educational organization it is our duty to preserve the memory of all the people who perished in the Shoah, and to protect the tangible evidence to the brutality of the Nazi regime. We are thankful for the thousands of people who already made a donation, and we invite individuals, companies and philanthropist to join this sacred mission of preserving the children's shows". 

Click here to name a contribution to save a child’s shoe: https://www.motl.org/soultosole/