Holocaust survivor Edith Fox breaks decadeslong silence to share her horrific story
For more than seven decades, Edith Fox kept her Holocaust story inside.
She sometimes told friends she wanted the words “Holocaust Survivor” on her tombstone. But she didn’t want to talk about what she had endured. It was simply too painful.
After surviving four years in Auschwitz as a teen, Fox waited two years before emigrating to the United States. She ended up in Buffalo, where she met her husband, Joseph. They raised three children here.
Fox now lives in Tucson, Ariz. In recent months, her health began to fail and she decided – at age 90 – she didn’t want her story to die with her. She was concerned people were forgetting about the Holocaust, and was horrified to hear that some deny it ever took place. She wanted to do her part to make sure people never forget.
Today, as the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we present Fox’s story in her own words. It was told to Nina Trasoff, Fox’s “friendly visitor” through a Jewish Family and Children’s Services program in Tucson designed to keep Holocaust survivors active, and to family friend Sharon Price.
My name is Edith Fox, maiden name Weingarten. I was born and lived in Czechoslovakia in a town called Teplice (Teplice-Šanov before 1948).
My mother, Giselle Weingarten, never talked about her parents, so I don’t know what happened to them, but her big brother raised her and two other sisters. At that time in Europe we didn’t discuss family matters. In my time, all I did was go to school, prepare food, play with my friends and do homework. My mother was married to my father, Mano Fogel, who worked at a lumber yard. She had a fabric store; she always was a businesswoman.
I was the youngest in my family. I had five brothers. They were very protective of me. Their names were Heskel, Ignat, Sam, Harry and Zigmant. Two of my brothers were drafted into the Czech army.
I was 13 years old when the war started. In 1941, Nazis came and rounded us up: my parents and my three other brothers. They told us to take our personal belongings. They also told us they would take us to Poland, which at that time was divided, occupied by Germans and Russians. They told us we will get homes and businesses for free.
Instead, when we got to Poland, the Nazis made us run; if you couldn’t run, you’d get killed. They killed my mother right in front of me. She couldn’t run fast enough. I grabbed her. It was too much for a kid to see. I told the Nazis to kill me, too, but they said no, you are going to work. People were dying in front of me. I saw a rabbi who was lying in the corner with his feet cut off, but he was still alive. He was lying out there until he died. It was unbelievable what they did.
Then they separated men and women and after that I never saw my father or my brothers again.
They took me and my friend, Leah, to the ghetto in Stanislau in Poland, where all the toddlers of Jewish families were housed. We had to wash the diapers of 300 babies. When we found out that the Nazis were coming to take us all, we asked the adults caring for the children if we could go into the bunker with them to be safe, but there was no room, so Leah and I went into the cellar where the furnace was and climbed into its chimney to hide.
The Nazis came and threw all the children into trucks like trash. Then they killed everyone in the bunker.
Leah and I stayed there hiding near the furnace for two to three days. Then we walked and walked, trying to get to the Czech border with Hungary. We saw a Czech soldier and thought he would help us, but he was controlled by the Nazis and was going to turn us in at the headquarters near Auschwitz. At the last minute, he let us go, telling us to go with God. We hid in the gutter.
Leah wanted to go home, but she was killed when she tried. I was recaptured, and they took me to the Auschwitz concentration camp and I was all alone there. I didn’t know what happened to the rest of my family. I was put in the line where (Josef) Mengele sent people to the right or to the left. To the left, people were killed. To the right, they were sent to work.