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The Story of Elsie V.

Elsie's Story graphic

Elsie V. Photo

“I write this for Elsie, a woman who tells me her story. I still see the fear in her eyes.

Elsie’s story starts in 1941. Her family had a feeling that the SS would becoming any day. They were trying to hide some paintings that had been in her family for years at a friend’s farm, so that the SS would not be able to take that from them too. That day the SS came to her door.

They told her to hurry; they were taking her away. She asked if she could prepare to take something with her. They would not let her. She asked if she could go to the bathroom. They let her.

She wrote on a little piece of paper, “Bill, go to Switzerland”.

From her home, the SS took her to a Gestapo house in Prague. She was then marched outside and put into cattle cars with others. The cars were very dark and cold; they waited 4 hours, without food or drink.

Soon after the train got underway, they reached their destination: Theresienstadt. Also called “The Black Cross”, this concentration camp was originally built as a fort under the Habsburg Empire. Only during the occupation by the Nazis did it become known as Theresienstadt. The Nazis did everything possible to keep their camps, and what took place in the camps, very secret.

After getting out of the cattle cars, they were marched down into abasement. They had to stand and wait for names to be called. She was made to stand and watch a man who was a Professor being beat to death; the Nazis laughed all the time they beat him. In the basement, the Nazis took everything from them.

As they stood waiting, they could see open areas in the wall where others would be able to look in and watch them. As Elsie looked around the room she could see blood on the walls and floor. She also learned that the open areas in the wall were used by the Nazis to put their guns through to shoot at the people in the room.

They had their heads shaved; all of this time they had no food or water. Sheer exhaustion forced them to lay on the rocky floor. The next morning they were forced to march to the castle. On the march, many would fall; if someone tried to help, the SS beat them. If you fell, you would also be beat. When they arrived inside the castle walls, they knew there would be no escape, because of the moat surrounding the castle. Some who tried to escape would fall to their death.

Once inside they were taken to a stone room, where they would have to stay. They had to sleep on the cold stone floors, without any heat and only a bucket to use as a toilet. No fresh water. After 2 days they were given a certain soap to use to wash. But the soap had a poison in it that gave many diarrhea, making them sick. Many died from this.

Elsie tells of when they would be marched outside. It would be very cold and without warm clothing, many would fall or pass out. On one Christmas, Himmler was at the camp. That particular day they were marched outside and ordered to turn around toward the trees.

When she turned, she saw many people hanging. Himmler laughed and told them, “Merry Christmas”.

At the camp the Nazis took her, inflicting a hysterectomy and breast reduction on her without any anesthesia. The pain without anesthesia was so great she passed out, and was left with an incision area that became infected and raw throughout her imprisonment. They would beat her about her infection area to give even greater pain.

At one point, Elsie did talk back to one of the SS officers and said to him, “You have the devil on your forehead, you will go to hell.” The officer laughed, then raised the butt of his rifle and shattered part of her skull with it. That’s why she has a metal plate in her head today.

After receiving the blow to her head, she passed out. When she awoke she found herself in a very small confined box where she could not move or stretch out her legs. She looked down and could see the blood all over and around her. They made her stay like this for 24 hours. During this time she had no water, suffering from dehydration and a severely swollen tongue.

During this time she prayed to God; He was her only hope now. She could feel her Lord with her. When the SS came to take her out of the box,they pulled her by the back of her neck back to her original quarters and threw her into a corner to die.

But Elsie found the strength to lift her arms to God and then felt a surge through her body; she knew then that they could do anything to her body to break it, but they could never invade her mind because she had her Lord.

In the large stone room that they were in, many would die every day. If they would try to show reverence to the body, they were beat for it. To keep themselves alive, they would take the clothes off the bodies and redress them with their thinner, more worn clothes to survive. The smell from the decomposing bodies and the stench of human waste was overwhelming. The SS would leave the bodies for many days, without removing them from the others.

If anyone would help one another, they would be beat for it. They had only thinned soup with lentils in the soup, and given moldy, green bread left over from the soldiers.

The camp was finally liberated in 1945, the man she loved was one of the men who helped liberate the camp. (Bill, the one she wrote the note warning him to go to Switzerland.) He did not recognize her because she was battered and weighed only 87 pounds. But she recognized him and he came to her, lifting her up and carrying her to freedom.

Elsie spent 2 full years in a hospital in Hamburg, where she was first fed with a feeding tube that extended through her nose and down into her stomach. Her body had to adjust to having food again. She had to learn to walk again, due to the lose of her muscle mass. After the 2 years spent in the hospital, she was taken to a sanitarium in the Austrian mountains. Here she had most of her right lung removed due to tuberculosis, remaining therefor a year.

Elsie took nurse’s training in Zurich; Bill, the man she loved, sent her a telegram and made arrangements for her to be taken to the United States. Upon her arrival, Bill was sent out of the U.S. on a diplomatic mission. She waited, and worked as a nurse in New York. One day she finally received a telegram from Bill to go to Austria, so they could finally be married. They had waited for 12 long years before they were finally reunited.

This is Elsie’s story, a woman who had everything taken from her except her mind and her Lord. Left in poor health, Elsie still helps others and also brings many to the Lord. Elsie is like a magnet and everyone she comes in contact with keep coming back to receive more wisdom from her.

She always says, “It is the Lord, I am only an instrument.”

She finally tells this story so no one will ever forget the atrocities. Because this cannot ever happen again. And thanks to Elsie and many others, we will keep a watchful eye, so that this will never happen again.

Elsie V., a Holocaust Survivor

Letter from Elsie’s Friend

Thanks so much for offering your time for the memory of people like Elsie. I can never express to you how happy she is to be able to communicate her story to others.

She would like to only submit this under her name of Elsie V. –because even today she lives in fear. She had written a book called “Go to the Darkness, Come to the Light” that someone has taken and she does not know if the book has been published or just if they are waiting for her to die so they could reap the benefits of the book. It is very cruel to do this to her after all she had gone through then putting her trust in someone, only never to hear from the man again.

I know you will not let us down.

Thank you and God bless you,

Christine Gaddos

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