A sister and brother's story of survival
Before the Second World War, my grandmother Hendrina (Henny) lived with her brother Salomon 'Sally' Ruben Swaab and parents Ruben Salomon Swaab and Betje Swaab-van Ploeg, in the Willaertstraat in Amsterdam. Ruben Salomon Swaab did not have to travel far to go to work, the Havenstraat depot was across the street from his home. Ruben started his career there in 1930 as a tramcar driver.
As a result of his participation in the February Strike and because he was Jewish, he was discharged on February 28, 1941.
When the deportations started in 1942, his son Salomon Ruben Swaab was the first of the family to be arrested and brought to Westerbork on 3 October 1942, after which he was deported to Auschwitz a few days later. On the way, his train stopped at a small station in Kosel where all healthy men between the ages of 16 and 50 had to get off. Sally also had to get out. He was forwarded from Sakrau to Blechhammer. From 21 January 1945 he walked the death march to Gross-Rosen where he was finally liberated via Buchenwald on 8 May 1945 in Theresienstadt.
In November 1942, my grandmother and her parents were taken out of the house. Ruben and Betje were deported to Auschwitz via the Hollandsche Schouwburg. Betje was gassed shortly after arrival and Ruben's exact date of death is not known, he would not have been alive on February 29, 1944.
Henny was brought into Camp Vught on 12 March 1943. There she was selected for the Philips - Kommando. On June 3, 1944, the entire commando was sent directly to Auschwitz where they arrived on June 6, 1944. In Birkenau, all women, including Henny, had a number tattooed on their arm. Within a week she went to Reichenbach to be put to work in a new Telefunken factory. After the bombing in February 1945, the Jewish women, including Henny, made a grueling journey, the death march, of four months. By train wagon or on foot from camp to camp, until they were liberated by the Danish Red Cross in May 1945.
Rescued to Sweden
The survivors left by train in normal passenger cars. The ferry also had to be taken to eventually arrive in Copenhagen. That same day, May 3, 1945, they were taken by ferry to Malmö in Sweden by the Swedish Red Cross, after which they had to remain in quarantine for six weeks. Henny was housed in the Linnee Skolan (a school building). The care there was good. After the six weeks, Henny and the survivors left for Gothenburg where they arrived at the convalescent home of Robertshöjd on 14 June 1945.
Henny and her brother Sally survived World War II. In August 1945 they were reunited in Amsterdam.