I was very embarrassed what I did, very embarrassed. I thought if my mother would be alive she would never permit me to get up from any table and leave the house. And when I met my husband I said I have only one wish, take me back to Sweden so I can apologize to this family for being so rude and leaving them, and my husband said, I do it for you. We went back to Sweden and I went to the same house and the lady say to me, I don’t remember you. And my husband holding the flowers and I’m crying. So life is very interesting. Because you cannot expect everything. I had the task to tell you my story, and now I am eighty years old and it’s very hard, because I am crying every day. Where is my brother, where is my mother, what happened to them? And so I have the task, nobody else. I have the task, no matter how hard it is, to come here, and tell you my story. I will tell you one more story: Steven Spielberg in his film about five of us who survived [The Last Days], did something colossal for me. I told him I will do what he asked me to do, go back to Auschwitz, but he has to do me one thing, he has to help me find my sister, this is fifty-six years after she dies. And guess what happens? The German person who was in charge of who died and who was alive opened the books, and here is my sister’s name. And so after fifty-six years, I found my sister. My husband and I put down a stone for her and there she is under a tree and leaves cover the tree.
You know why I give the pope the painting? Because the first thing he did, when he became a pope, he went to Auschwitz and he kneeled and prayed and asked how could this happen? When I read that in the paper I thought to myself, this is it, I have to thank him somehow, because after all these years he could easily do nothing and be quiet. But he didn’t.
How did I deal with God in Auschwitz? This is a very strange story. My sister Edith and I decided that we would pray every Friday for the Sabbath. But they didn’t let us pray, they didn’t let us speak. We had to be quiet. We had to be nothing. So one Friday night I say, why don’t we pray inside the latrine? So we went to a corner in the latrine and started to pray, and the Hebrew songs, you know, are almost universal, and more children came, from all over the world it was people there, and the children heard us praying in Hebrew and singing, and for a moment, a moment, God was with us there, and we all prayed, and every week, more and more people prayed. We discovered that the SS would not go into this filthy place. So this is where we prayed. And it is also very beautiful thing of Steven Spielberg, when I went back to Auschwitz, I saw the latrine still there, and I started to scream, and he says what are you talking about? So I told him the story, and he got some Jewish boys to sing the same songs in the latrine, if you listen carefully you will hear them, young children singing. The song they sang means, Angels who come here, bless these children, bless them and bless the world.
Here is one more story. When they took us from our home they put us in a cattle train and there was two buckets there, one with water for drinking and the other for sanitary use. There were eighty people in the train, men and women and a woman who was pregnant. Edith and I could not bear to use the bucket in the corner. So when we got to the border there was a young soldier who opened the door for fresh air. I said to him, please please let me go down for a minute under the wheels, my sister and I cannot bear to going to the bathroom in the bucket. And he understood and let me down. Wasn’t it a miracle?