Death Camp Diary


We might have been able to get out of it, but we didn’t want to. Since we’re in it, we’re going. In this case it’s best to leave things as you find them. We’ve been allowed to take all our luggage—a good sign. Maybe they were right and we’re following the men. I’m looking forward to it; perhaps I’ll see Dad by the end of the day.

The above words were from Helga Weiss, (born 1929) is a Czech artist, and a Holocaust survivor. Raised in Prague, on December 4, 1941 she and her parents were interned in the Terezin ghetto.

In October 1944, aged 15, she and her mother were moved to Auschwitz. As new victims arrived, they were sorted… sent to the left for the ovens, right to live longer. The person sorting that day may have been the infamous Josef Mengele.Whoever it was, Helga convinced him she was old enough to live longer, claiming to be 18, and was told to go to the rightShe also successfully claimed that her mother was younger than she really was.

She kept a diary, in words and pictures, and when she and her mother were sent on to Auschwitz in 1944, her uncle hid the diary in a brick wall for safekeeping.Her pictures tell the compelling story of life in the death camps.

Snowman, December 1941: ‘The first picture I made in Terezin. I smuggled it to my father in the men’s barracks and he wrote back: ‘Draw what you see!’


The Transport of Polish Children, 29 August 1943. Helga Weiss recalls: ‘These children arrived in deplorable condition and were quarantined the whole time in Terezin. They were supposed to be sent to Switzerland but ended up in Auschwitz.


Waiting Room of the Emergency Clinic, 26 July 1943. ‘Due to the poor living conditions, the waiting room was always full.’


The Dormitory in the Barracks at Terezin, 1942. ‘There are 21 of us in quite a small room. Mum and I have 1.20 square metres.


No explanation needed.


For Her 14th Birthday, November 1943. ‘A picture for my friend Francka. We were born in the same maternity home, shared a bunk and became best friends in Terezin. We imagined what it would be like in 14 years – in 1957 – when we were both mothers and could go for walks in Prague. Francka died in Auschwitz before her 15th birthday.’



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