Return to Cybrary || Return to Witnesses

The Story of Elsie V.

Elsie's Story graphic


Dear Mike:

Thanks so much for offering your time for the memory of people likeElsie. I can never express to you how happy she is to be able tocommunicate her story to others.

She would like to only submit this under her name of Elsie V. --because even today she lives in fear. She had written a book called "Go tothe Darkness, Come to the Light" that someone has taken and she does notknow if the book has been published or just if they are waiting for her todie so they could reap the benefits of the book. It is very cruel to dothis to her after all she had gone through then putting her trust insomeone, only never to hear from the man again.

I know you will not let us down.

Thank you and God bless you,

Christine Gaddos

  I write this for Elsie, a woman who tells me her story. Istill see the fear in her eyes.

   Elsie's story starts in 1941. Her family had a feeling that the SS would becoming any day. They were trying to hide some paintings that had been in herfamily for years at a friend's farm, so that the SS would not be able totake that from them too. That day the SS came to her door.

  They told her to hurry; they were taking her away. She asked if shecould prepare to take something with her. They would not let her. Sheasked if she could go to the bathroom. They let her.

  She wrote on a little piece of paper, "Bill, go to Switzerland".

  From her home, the SS took her to a Gestapo house in Prague. She wasthen marched outside and put into cattle cars with others. The cars werevery dark and cold; they waited 4 hours, without food or drink.

   Soon after the train got underway, they reached their destination: Theresienstadt. Also called "The Black Cross", this concentration camp wasoriginally built as a fort under the Habsburg Empire. Only during theoccupation by the Nazis did it become known as Theresienstadt. The Nazisdid everything possible to keep their camps, and what took place in thecamps, very secret.

  After getting out of the cattle cars, they were marched down into abasement. They had to stand and wait for names to becalled. She was made to stand and watch a man who was a Professor beingbeat to death; the Nazis laughed all the time they beathim. In the basement, the Nazis took everything from them.

  As they stood waiting, they could see open areas in the wall whereothers would be able to look in and watch them. As Elsie looked around theroom she could see blood on the walls and floor. She also learned that theopen areas in the wall were used by the Nazis to put their guns through toshoot at the people in the room.

  They had their heads shaved; all of this time they had no food orwater. Sheer exhaustion forced them to lay on the rocky floor. The nextmorning they were forced to march to the castle. On the march, many wouldfall; if someone tried to help, the SS beat them. If you fell, you wouldalso be beat. When they arrived inside the castle walls, they knew therewould be no escape, because of the moat surrounding the castle. Some whotried to escape would fall to their death.

  Once inside they were taken to a stone room, where they would have tostay. They had to sleep on the cold stone floors, without any heat andonly a bucket to use as a toilet. No fresh water. After 2 days they weregiven a certain soap to use to wash. But the soap had a poison in it thatgave many diarrhea, making them sick. Many died from this.

  Elsie tells of when they would be marched outside. It would be verycold and without warm clothing, many would fall or pass out. On oneChristmas, Himmler was at the camp. That particular day they were marchedoutside and ordered to turn around toward the trees.

  When she turned, she saw many people hanging. Himmler laughed and toldthem, "Merry Christmas".

  At the camp the Nazis took her, inflicting a hysterectomy and breastreduction on her without any anesthesia. The pain without anesthesia wasso great she passed out, and was left with an incision area that becameinfected and raw throughout her imprisonment. They would beat her abouther infection area to give even greater pain.

   At one point, Elsie did talk back to one of the SS officers and said tohim, "You have the devil on your forehead, you will go to hell." Theofficer laughed, then raised the butt of his rifle and shattered part ofher skull with it. That's why she has a metal plate in her head today.

  After receiving the blow to her head, she passed out. When she awokeshe found herself in a very small confined box where she could not move orstretch out her legs. She looked down and could see the blood all over andaround her. They made her stay like this for 24 hours. During this timeshe had no water, suffering from dehydration and a severely swollen tongue.

   During this time she prayed to God; He was her only hope now. Shecould feel her Lord with her. When the SS came to take her out of the box,they pulled her by the back of her neck back to her original quarters andthrew her into a corner to die.

  But Elsie found the strength to lift her arms to God and then felt asurge through her body; she knew then that they could do anything to herbody to break it, but they could never invade her mind because she had herLord.

  In the large stone room that they were in, many would die every day. If they would try to show reverence to the body, they were beat for it. Tokeep themselves alive, they would take the clothes off the bodies andredress them with their thinner, more worn clothes to survive. The smellfrom the decomposing bodies and the stench of human waste was overwhelming. The SS would leave the bodies for many days, without removing them fromthe others.

   If anyone would help one another, they would be beat for it. They hadonly thinned soup with lentils in the soup, and given moldy, green breadleft over from the soldiers.

   The camp was finally liberated in 1945, the man she loved was one ofthe men who helped liberate the camp. (Bill, the one she wrote the note warninghim to go to Switzerland.) He did not recognize her because shewas battered and weighed only 87 pounds. But she recognized him and hecame to her, lifting her up and carrying her to freedom.

   Elsie spent 2 full years in a hospital in Hamburg, where she was firstfed with a feeding tube that extended through her nose and down into herstomach. Her body had to adjust to having food again. She had to learn towalk again, due to the lose of her muscle mass. After the 2 years spent inthe hospital, she was taken to a sanitarium in the Austrian mountains. Hershe had most of her right lung removed due to tuberculosis, remaining therefor a year.

  Elsie took nurse's training in Zurich; Bill, the man she loved, senther a telegram and made arrangements for her to be taken to the UnitedStates. Upon her arrival, Bill was sent out of the U.S. on a diplomaticmission. She waited, and worked as a nurse in New York. One day shefinally received a telegram from Bill to go to Austria, so they couldfinally be married. They had waited for 12 long years before they werefinally reunited.

   This is Elsie's story, a woman who had everything taken from her excepther mind and her Lord. Left in poor health, Elsie still helps others andalso brings many to the Lord. Elsie is like a magnet and everyone shecomes in contact with keep coming back to receive more wisdom from her.

  She always says, "It is the Lord, I am only an instrument."

   She finally tells this story so no one will ever forget the atrocities. Because this cannot ever happen again. And thanks to Elsie and manyothers, we will keep a watchful eye, so that this will never happen again.

Elsie V., a Holocaust Survivor


Go to the Top of the Page || Witnesses