Day 7 – Friday, August 7th, 1942
Departure from Westerbork to Auschwitz
The transport had been due to leave on Thursday, August 6th, but the departure was postponed for one reason or another, On Thursday afternoon, a woman arrived at the camp carrying civilian clothes for the Sisters. It was supposed, therefore, that they would be obliged to change on their arrival at the frontier, though it does not appear that a change of habit actually took place.
During Thursday afternoon, the Jewish Council drew up lists of those persons due to be transported on the next convoy for Auschwitz, the lists being read out to them Thursday night, so that the people concerned could make what preparation they thought necessary. The Gestapo had given the Council stern instructions to make no exemptions from their particular transport. As a matter of fact, the Bromberg family and Sister Judith were left behind on some technical ground. The family was fortunate enough to survive the persecution; but Sister Judith was to die at Auschwitz later, in 1944 .
On Friday morning, August 7th, at half-past three, a long row of prisoners, men, women and children, lined the road running through the camp. It included our Saint Edith, Rosa, and a thousand other Hebrew Catholics. The entire barracks had been cleared. S.S. men now took over from the Dutch gendarmes and gruffly ordered the line to start moving. They crowded them into goods-trains, filled to suffocation. Saint Edith and the other Sisters, still dressed in their habits, were in the middle section of the train. The other prisoners were in prison-uniform, though the fact is disputed. It is touching to learn that the train passed through Breslau, only 50 to 60 kilometers from Auschwitz, on its way to the Polish frontier. Breslau, was our Saint’s birthplace, though the wagons were so well sealed that she might well have been unconscious of the fact. At Scifferstadt, however, a door might have been opened for a few moments, during which time, our Edith managed to recognize an ex-pupil standing on the platform and to convey to her greetings for her Sisters. “Tell them” she said “I am on my way to the East.” Perhaps she was unaware that she was on her way to Auschwitz.
Many died en route, though permission was not granted to remove the corpses. The thirst, hunger and suffering, both mental and physical, of the passengers in those “death-trains” can be imagined.
“And taking the Twelve, he said to them, ‘Behold we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written of the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spat upon; they will scourge him and kill him and on the third day he will rise.’ But they understood nothing of these things; this saying was hid from them and they did not grasp what was said.” Luke 18:31-34
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be
(Any suitable prayer may be said here)
Saint Edith, Pray For Us!