2: Excerpt from Holocaust memoir, "Still Alive," by Ruth Kluger, 2001.
Originally from Vienna, Ruth Kluger spent a period of her childhood in Theresienstadt, the Nazi concentration camp located approximately 100 kilometers outside Prague, before being transported, like the majority of Theresienstadt’s inmates, to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Kluger’s memoir, originally written in German, provides detailed insight into her Holocaust experiences, including the conditions she and others endured in the camps. This excerpt provides a visceral and heart-wrenching account of her transport from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz in a railway car designed for carrying cargo.
Suggested Activity: Read the excerpt with students. Ask students to list and describe each of the atrocities Kluger documents in her account of the transport. Now ask them to list the various emotions that Kluger and others seem to have in the wagon. Prompt students to consider how the passengers dealt with limited access to a “window,” and how Kluger and her mother each react to the older woman suffering a breakdown nearby. Ask them to consider how the experiences of a child like Kluger might have differed from or been similar to those of an adult in the same car.
Give students time to process (through discussion or writing) their own emotional reactions to this passage.
Source: Ruth Kluger, Staying Alive (New York: The Feminist Press, 2001), 91-95.