Women of Valor: Partisans and Resistance Fighters
RoseGrunapfel Meth - Part III
Since I was always working next to Estusia, they took me too, for interrogation. Well, the beating that I got was not as severe as theirs. They showed me a drawing of a man and asked me whether I ever saw this man. They told me right away, "This is Estusia's friend. Did you see him often?" They started interrogating me. Of course I denied had ever seen the man or been in contact with him, which was true. They threatened me with shooting and all sorts of things but they couldn't get anything out of me, so they sent me back. From their questioning, I thought that they suspected the whole world. All the Jews were their enemies. They couldn't even suspect Regina or Estusia of anything specific because they didn't have anything on them, except that Regina was responsible for the Pulverraum, and the Pulverraum was the only source of gunpowder. This much they could suspect but they couldn't know who gave it.
Two weeks later, the girls were released. The SS didn't have any tangible evidence which they could tie to them.14 So Estusia and Regina were released and sent back to work. They were in such agony after they were beaten up, but they were with us for a very short while. Before Christmas the Gestapo took them back to Block 11 and of course, January 6th was the hanging, the execution of the four girls.15 All the women of the camp were outside and they called the Pulverraum to the front, right next to the gallows where the chairs were. This I remember. I marked it down in my notes. Hoessler,16 the camp Fuhrer called "Pulverraum nach vorne" which means "Pulverraum to the front" and he read the verdict, "In the name of the German law you are sentenced to death."
What a paradox that was, "in the name of the law". In Auschwitz, to read a verdict in the name of the law! I passed out. I hardly remember anything afterwards. Complete numbness set in for me. I didn't care for anything. Nothing mattered to me. We were all silent. We couldn't talk for a while. Thirteen days later we were evacuated from Auschwitz.
I wrote down some notes in Auschwitz but when we were evacuated, I threw them away. I tore them up because I thought perhaps I'd be searched and there may be incriminating information in the notes. I traded bread for paper or I sewed little aprons for the Blockaltester. She gave me the needle and thread, and for the apron she gave me an extra piece of bread. My father always wanted us to remember what was happening, and be able to tell the world, so the world should know. He always said, "Remember what is happening." It was my father's strong message to survive and tell the world.
Estusia and I were like sisters. People never knew that we were not really sisters. As soon as all my sisters were taken away from me and Estusia saw my condition, she helped me a lot moraly. She told me I must be strong and survive. I had told her things that my father said. He prepared us for the hardship. He was a very unusual, a very unique person. Through meshalim he gave us courage and taught us how to live in spite of difficulties.
Just before we separated, before we went to Wadowice, my father took us four girls aside. He told us a parable of two men. They were tired of life.. They had difficulties and problems. They went to a river, stood on the bridge, and contemplated suicide. One of the men courageously jumped into the water and was gone. The other one shivered and went away. Which is the coward and which is the brave man? Of course, as children, we said it was the one who had the courage to jump into the river. My father said, "No, you're wrong. The one who took up the fight and continued to live and fight for what he wanted, this one is the brave man." I had told this to Estusia before, and she kept on repeating it to me. Other things that he told us made us have faith, to believe that some good will come of it. I feel that it was my father's blessing that I'm the only one who survived from the entire family.
Rose Meth was evacuated from Auschwitz on January 19, 1945, on a death march to Wroclaw on the Polish-German border. From there they were transported to Ravensbruck and then to Neustadt-Glewe, where they were liberated by the American army on May 3, 1945. In Neustadt-Glewe, Mrs. Meth again wrote notes about her experiences, in Auschwitz. The original notes are in the archives at Yad Vashem. She arrived in the USA in May 1946.
Interviewed by: Bonnie Gurewitsch, 10/28/85
© Copyright Judy Cohen, 2001.