By Eva Nathan Clarke
Daughter of Bernd Nathan and Anka Bergman
I was born in Mauthausen Concentration Camp on April 29, 1945. My mother and I are the only survivors of our family: 15 members of whom were killed in Auschwitz - 3 of my grandparents, my father, uncles, aunts, and my 7 year old cousin, Peter.
In 1933, when Hitler came to power, my father left Hamburg for Prague, where he eventually met my mother. They were married on May 15, 1940. In December, 1941, my parents were sent to Terezin/Thereseinstadt. They were to remain there for three years, which was unusual: they were young and well able to work.
During this time, and despite the sexes being segregated, my mother became pregnant with my brother, Jiri/George. When the Nazis discovered this fact, my parents were forced to sign a document stating that when the baby was born, he would be handed over to the Gestapo - to be killed! It was the first time my mother had heard the word "euthanasia." However, in the event, my brother died of pneumonia at 2 months of age, and his death meant my life! Had my mother subsequently arrived in Auschwitz Berkenau with a baby, she would have been sent immediately to the gas chambers. Because she arrived there without a baby, and although by this time she was again pregnant with me - but not visibly - she survived.
My mother was in Auschwitz Berkenau from October 1st thru October 10th, 1944. Incredibly, she had volunteered to go there the day after my father was sent there. Tragically, she never saw him again, and he never knew that she was pregnant. She discovered after the war that he had been shot on January 18th, just one week before the Russian Army liberated the camp on January 27, 1945.
As my mother's pregnancy was not visible, and she was deemed fit for work, she was sent out of Auschwitz to work in an armaments factory in Freiburg, Saxony, near Dresden. She remained there for the next six months - by now getting weaker and weaker, while at the same time becoming visibly pregnant.
At the end of March and the beginning of April, 1945, the Nazis were retreating and evacuating various concentration and slave labor camps. My mother wasn't on a death march, but she and her fellow prisoners were forced on to a train; not cattle trucks this time, but coal trucks - open to the skies, and obviously filthy. They were given no food and scarcely any water during what became a three week nightmare around the Czech countryside. The Nazis didn't know what to do with their "dying cargo." Under normal circumstances, the train would have been sent back to Auschwitz, but this was now April, 1945, and Auschwitz had been liberated in January.
The train eventually arrived at Mauthausen Concentration Camp; the only camp in Austria. My mother had such a shock when she saw the name of this notorious camp, that labour began. I was born on a cart, in the open, without any assistance, medical or any other kind. By this time she weighed 5 stone (70 pounds) - she had the appearance of a scarcely living skeleton. I weighed about 3 pounds at birth. We were eventually taken to the hospital in the Russian section of the camp. If the American Army hadn't liberated Mauthausen seven days after my birth, we would not have survived.
The above photo pictures four generations of the family of 92 year old Holocaust survivor Anka Bergman. Her daughter, Eva Nathan Clarke, was born in Mauthausen Concentration Camp on April 29, 1945. They are shown in this 2009 photo with grandson Nick, and great grand daughter Matilda Eva. In the words of Mrs. Clarke "Without the 11th Armored Division, none of us would be here." Eva and Anka are Honorary Members of the 11th Armored Division Association.