Augusta Feldhorm

Born May 29, 1934 - Vienna, Austria

Augusta, the only daughter of Margarete (Krigsman) and Julius Feldhorn, was born in Vienna, Austria. Her father, originally an accountant, had established his own men's hat factory, inventing most of the machinery himself. After the Germans annexed Austria in 1938, they immediately began to persecute its Jewish citizens. Augusta's family fled to Belgium, hoping to reestablish their lives. Augusta began school and made friends. Life seemed to be getting back to normal. This was not to last. The Germans invaded Belgium in May 1940, just before Augusta's sixth birthday. The terrified family attempted to flee to France, but was turned back at the border.

In October 1940, all Jews in Belgium were ordered to register with the police. Augusta's parents decided to hide her in a convent in the countryside. A few months later her parents, wanting to be near her, hid Augusta with Christian friends who lived a few streets away from their home. In May 1942, Jews were forced to wear the yellow star, and Jewish adults were required to report for forced labor. Her parents went into hiding with false papers.

One morning, early in the summer of 1942, Augusta's mother left home to buy some milk. Their house was surrounded by police. Her father, uncle and aunt were forcibly seized and taken to the transit camp at Malines.

Escaping the raid, Augusta's mother immediately put her terrified eight year-old daughter on a train taking her back to the convent. She soon joined her there, posing as a nun. Twenty other Jewish children were hidden in the convent. Augusta turned inward, however, and did not make friends with them. When she was nine years old, Augusta's tonsils had to be removed. The nuns could not take her to the hospital for fear that she would be denounced as a Jew. They removed her tonsils and adenoids themselves, without anesthesia.

Augusta and her mother remained in the convent until liberation. In April 1945, while walking alone down a road, Augusta saw approaching soldiers. Eleven year-old Augusta fainted when she realized that the soldiers were American, and that she was free. She eventually learned that her father had been taken to the Birkenau concentration camp and murdered there.

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