I was there.
Lea was sent to Bergen-Belsen at the end of January 1945. There she was placed with many others in the death barracks.
In April 1945, when British troops were closing in on Bergen-Belsen, the German camp guards fled leaving the prisoners to their own fate without food or water.
After the liberation, the British placed Lea and other prisoners into a displaced persons camp. When Lea found out that her sister Miriam was still alive, she travelled to Poland to get her sister. Together they went on to Sweden where Lea met Josef Gleitman, the man who would become her husband.
Lea Gleitman (1924), Poland
The Time in Bergen-Belsen
Lea discusses her time in the so-called death barracks in Bergen-Belsen.
1) Listen to Lea as she talks about the liberation and the period after the end of the war. Then answer the questions.
1a. What did a "normal day" look like for the prisoners of Bergen-Belsen?
1b. What thoughts spring to mind when Lea discusses the lice, not being able to wash herself, and when she found the soap? What do you think she means when she says that "it might have helped me survive"?
British Troops Liberate the Camp
Lea talks about the liberation of the camp.
2) Listen to Lea as she talks about the liberation. Then answer the question.
2a. Lea and Rachel do all they can to save their friend Bronka who was ill. What happens between 14 and 15 April that flings them between hope and despair?
We Make Plans to Move to Sweden
Lea talks about her time in the displaced persons camp at Bergen-Belsen, and the decision to get her sister in Poland and together travel to Sweden.
3) Listen to Lea as she talks about her plans to travel to Sweden. Then answer the questions.
3a. In the displaced persons camp after the liberation, Lea and Rachel write to a relative in Copenhagen. How did they know the address?
3b. Why was it dangerous for Lea to travel to her sister and how did they get back to Germany?
I Get My Sister
Lea talks about her journey to Poland in order to get her sister Miriam.
4) Listen to Lea discussing getting her sister. Then answer the question.
4a. What does Lea mention about the significance for Lea and her sister of having relatives alive in Copenhagen?
Life in Sweden
Lea talks about the journey to Sweden on 6 May 1946 and life after the war.
5) Listen to Lea as she talks about her life in Sweden. Then answer the question.
5a. From the end of the 1980s, Lea starts to talk about her experience in schools. Why does she do so? What do you think about her decision to talk and what do you think this means for you and others?
6) Read the text about the end of war and liberation and what happened to those who were liberated from various camps. Then answer the question.
6a. After the end of the war countries in Europe celebrated. However, many people didn't have a home or family to return to. Why was that, and how was the situation dealt with?
Historical Context 1: Jewish Life in Oświęcim and Sosnowiec Before 1939
Historical Context Section 3: The Liquidation of the Sosnowiec Ghetto