Lilly Segelstein’s Testimony

Delivered at a dinner in Kansas City, Mo. honoring Kansas City’s Holocaust Survivors in May, 2007
My name is Lill
y Segelstein and I was born in Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia in the town of Munkacs, which at the time of my birth was Czech, and is now Ukraine. The events I will speak about took place over 60 years ago during a terrible time of Jewish and world history - the rise and fall of the Nazi regime. I will give you a short background leading up to my liberation from Reichenbach, a labor camp that was part of the Gröss - Rosen complex and about 50 miles from the Czech border. My sister Leah and I were among 50 out of 30,000 girls to be selected in Auschwitz in the Fall of 1944 to go to Reichenbach. As a matter of fact, I just had a reunion with 2 of the other girls that were also part of this selection, who were found by my daughter Cookie and their daughters.

On May 8, 1945 we were liberated from Reichenbach by the Russians. We didn't know where to go, we just started walking. We went into town, where we stayed in an empty home for a couple of weeks. There, we gathered our strength for what would be a long journey.

First, we went to Krakow, Poland, where there were some lists of survivors, and we registered our names from Krakow, went back to Munkacs and found only 1 uncle who had survived. We stayed with him for one month and decided to emigrate to Palestine. Since this was not legal, we could not go directly to what would become Israel. So we went with a group of youngsters like us to Budapest to a Kibbutz - a sort of refugee camp for displaced people who wanted to go to Israel. After Budapest we went to Graz, Austria where we came into contact with UNRRA (United Nations Refugee Relief Association). We stayed in Graz for a month or two, and then we went through Yugoslavia to a DP camp on the border of Yugoslavia and Italy in Trieste. Then we went to another DP camp in Como, on the Swiss/Italian border. We stayed in Como for a few months.

This is where I met my future husband Boris, who had survived almost 4 years in a labor camp and escaped. In Como we broke out in a very infectious skin disease, and spent about 2 weeks in quarantine.

From Como, we went to the DP camp of Line Cittu in Rome. From Rome we went to Barletta in the south of Italy and then to Bari, where Boris and I were married. Boris then received sponsorship papers from his family in America, who had learned of his survival from his younger brother Morris who was already in New York. Boris wrote to his family that he was married and needed sponsorship papers for visas for both of us, and then we went to Santa Maria (also a DP camp) near Naples where we waited another year for our visas to come to the U.S.

In November of 1948, we embarked from Naples on the Polish ship "Sobietski". We arrived in the New York Harbor in about 2 weeks where we were met by family. Boris, being apprenticed as a child to a tailor, began working for a tailor shop in Brooklyn while he went to school to study clothing design.

In 1954, he found employment in the small but thriving garment industry in Kansas City, and we moved here with our 5 year old son David.

In 1958 we had a daughter, Cookie and in 1959, another daughter, Cindy. I am blessed with 4 wonderful grandchildren, Emily, Isaac, Zach and Jonah. I'd be happy to answer any questions.