On April 4, 1943, the Neuendorf Hachshara/labor camp was closed. All the young Jews of the camp, the last German Hachshara are arrested, and placed in the Jewish school in Berlin.
On the 19th of April, they were all sent to Auschwitz as a part of the 37th transport, to clean Berlin from Jews as a birthday present to Hitler.
Rolli arrivs in Auschwitz on April 20.
153 of the 688 deportees on the train arrived from the Neuendorf camp on the 20th of April. Rolli and Wally were separated, we know nothing about Wally’s fate. Rolli was sent to work at the IG Farben Chemical Factory.
In my meeting with Esther Bejarano, who had been a girl in the same camp during the years when Rolli had been there, she testified that they did not know exactly what the new camp was. It was only when they were transferred to Auschwitz that the reality they so loved gave them hope was shattered: the bubble of the Hachshara camp and the hope of immigrating to Eretz Israel.
When an attempt was made to find out and obtain the documents from the Auschwitz archives, the Auschwitz Museum administration announced that “we are happy to inform you that we have found Rolf Baruch’s drawings in Auschwitz.” It is indeed joy.
For years, nobody knew what was the fate of Rolf. These documents were the only last details that my grandmother had, about the fate of her brother.
Only in 1990, a year before her death, my grandmother received the story of Rolli’s life in the camps, from Jutta Bergt:
Rolli apparently did not survive the death marches. I know he was on the lists of life to the end, because I had access to lists of the dead. I worked in the Auschwitz laundry where we received material from the remaining clothes of those entering the camp. We knitted them socks, and I knitted for Rolli.
According to the testimonies, Rolli stayed at Auschwitz 3 – BUNA.
The Death March
In mid January 1945 the Soviet army began advancing on occupied Poland and reaching close to the camps.
By January 17, orders were given to vacate the Auschwitz concentration camp. The SS begins evacuating tens of thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, are forced to march to the city of Wodzislaw in the western part of Upper Silesia.
More than 15,000 will die during the death marches. In Wodzislaw, the prisoners are put on unheated freight trains and deported to concentration camps in Germany. On January 27, 1945, the Soviet army enters Auschwitz and liberates the few remaining prisoners.
He went on a death march, and during the march “disappeared”.
These were the last details we knew about Rolfs fate. Until winter 2019, but just before the end of 2019, a batch of documents is released in the Arolsen archiv.