Oro Torres

Born 1931 - Salonika, Greece

Oro, the daughter of Eliau Mose and Mazeltov (Sasoon) Torres, was the youngest of five children. Her father owned a family-run clothing store.

They lived in Salonika, Greece, which was home to over 60,000 Jews. The Sephardic Jews of Salonika, descendants of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, had a strong and active Jewish community and a vibrant, rich cultural life.

When the Germans occupied Salonika, Oro was ten years old. Her older brothers had fought the Germans. After the Greek army was defeated, they made their way back to a drastically changed Salonika. Jews were forbidden to enter restaurants and had to give up their radios. Other anti-Jewish measures were enacted making life exceedingly difficult. Economic measures were decreed, and the Torres family had to surrender the keys of their store to the Germans. They had no means of earning a living, and they were quickly impoverished. About 20,000 Salonika Jews were near starvation or ill with typhus. In July 1942, the Germans decreed heavy labor conscription for Jewish men. Many perished in malaria-infested swamps. On December 6, 1942, the ancient Jewish cemetery was plundered and the tombstones used to line latrines and to pave streets. In March 1943, the Jews were forced to live in a sealed-off ghetto and wear the yellow star.

On April 10, 1943, when Oro was twelve years old, her house was surrounded by Germans. They came inside, shouting, punching, and kicking everyone. They forced Oro and her family to leave the house, allowing them to take only a few personal items. Oro's older brother carried her father, who had recently suffered a stroke and could not walk. They were marched along the streets with other Jews to a transit camp near the train station. The next morning they were shoved into sealed, overcrowded cattle cars. For the 80 people in each car, there was one barrel of olives, one barrel of water, and one barrel for sanitation. Each person received a loaf of bread. They set off for a journey into the unknown.

Almost one month later, they arrived at the Auschwitz death camp. Oro, her mother and sister were sent to a holding area in the Birkenau section of the camp. One week later they were murdered in the gas chambers. Oro was twelve years old.

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