Eva was born Eva Vezer in 1926 in Oradea, Romania, the youngest child of Josef and Ilona Vezer. Her siblings, Clara, Laszlo, and Agnes, were fourteen, eleven, and nine years older. Her family was Hungarian so school was difficult for Eva because she did not speak Romanian until second grade. Later, school was difficult because of antisemitism. Both students and teachers harassed her.
The town was returned to Hungary under the Second Vienna Award in 1940. In March 1944, the German SS came to Hungary. Ghettoization happened rapidly.
By the beginning of June, the Jews were loaded into cattle cars and arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau three days later. Men and women were separated and ordered to form rows of five. Eva was with her mother, her sister, Agnes, and her niece, Aniko. Eva’s mother and niece were sent to the left, and Eva, Agnes and the other woman were sent to a room where their heads were shaved. In the barracks, one of the women told Eva, “You see that smoke? That’s your mother and your father burning.”
They were up at four in the morning for roll call. “Breakfast” was a black coffee-like beverage and a piece of bread made with sawdust. Each day they had to stand naked for selection because there was not enough room for all the transports from Hungary. The camp was very muddy, and so Agnes, Eva and a few other women were given work sewing soles on the shoes and boots of the SS.
In October, 1000 women were selected to dig anti-tank trenches for the soldiers in Schlesiersee, near the border of Poland and Germany. Eva and her two sisters were among those selected. When the ground froze in December, the women could no longer dig. Allied forces were getting close and so the transport of 1,000 girls began a six- week death march through Bavaria. Near Dresden, twelve women, including Eva’s sister, Clara, hid in the straw of the barn they had slept in. Eleven were found and shot. The rest of the women marched on – many dying along the way. When Eva could no longer walk, she was lined up to be shot. To this day Eva does not know how it happened, but she fell before the machine gun reached her and was left for dead. The approximately 55 remaining women were marched further and shot at Volary, Czechoslovakia. Eva’s sister, Agnes, was among them.
The next day Eva went into town to ask for food. She slept in the forest for two nights, and on the third day, she was given shelter at a sheep farm where Frau Stritzel, a doctor, gave Eva clear soup until her body could handle solid food again. While staying there, she met another survivor, Hyman Abrams, who later became her husband. Frau Stritzel‘s husband, Otto, having been forced to join the SS to keep his farm, had been arrested by the Americans. A few weeks later, Eva wrote a letter to the occupying American government and Otto Stritzel was released.
A short time after returning from Bergen-Belsen to search for relatives, Eva married Hyman. His friend, Morris, married Hyman’s cousin, Frida; the two couples had a double wedding. Eva's son, Peter, was born in Bavaria in 1946. While she was pregnant, Eva learned the surviving woman from the escape attempt in Dresden was her older sister, Clara! Eva came to the US in 1949. Their daughter, Bonnie, was born in NYC in 1956. Eva moved to Rochester in 2010 and has spoken to school groups about her experiences since that time.
Biography written by: Bonnie Abrams