Children of Bergen-Belsen Honor Their Protector
Her 3- year-old son had been torn from her arms and died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. But on her second night in the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp, the woman who became known as the “Angel of Belsen” acted as any mother would when she heard children crying.
Saturday evening, many of those who survived the camp because of Luba Tryszynska’s efforts thanked her at an Amsterdam synagogue ceremony coinciding with the Jewish Passover holiday.
When Tryszynska opened the door of her barracks that night in the summer of 1944, the sight and sounds stunned her. A dump truck was unloading into the mud a group of crying Dutch Jewish children, leaving them there to die.
“Those sounds I could never forget . . . their cries were bitter, they were unbearable,” said Tryszynska, now 74.
Tryszynska rounded up those 46 Dutch children, none older than 14. Thanks to her personal crusade to keep them alive, 44 survived until the camp in northern Germany was liberated by British troops April 15, 1945.
On the 50th anniversary of Bergen-Belsen’s liberation, 31 of these children gathered in Amsterdam to honor Tryszynska. The city’s deputy mayor Saturday presented her with the Silver Medal of Honor for Humanitarian Deeds on behalf of Queen Beatrix.
“I gave them my love because I had lost my own child,” Tryszynska said.
One of the children was Jack Rodriguez, now 64, of Los Angeles.
“Nobody wanted to make the decision to go ahead to shoot us,” said Rodriguez. “Luba filled the vacuum, and had she not done that, they would have shot us if we started to become a nuisance.”
Tryszynska, a Polish Jew, was sent to the Auschwitz death camp in southern Poland in January, 1943, with her husband, Hersch, and their 3-year-old son, Isaac.
At one of the infamous Auschwitz lineups, her son was torn from her and thrown on a truck bound for the gas chambers. Her husband was assigned to work as a carpenter but was later shot.
In the summer of 1944, she was moved to Bergen-Belsen. In the camp, she scrounged for food to keep her Dutch children alive. She kept them inside her barracks and quiet, hoping to make them as invisible as possible to the Nazi guards.
After the war, Tryszynska moved to Sweden and married Saul Frederick, also an Auschwitz survivor. They had two children and now live in Miami.