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SHARING PERSONAL HISTORIES and compelling narratives

Read these personal histones and learn what happened to so many different individuals and how their lives have been shaped by their journey and experience.

Toby Biber

Toby was born in Mielec, Poland 1925, into a very orthodox family. Her father was a dealer in grain, and she was one of seven children. She was fourteen years of age at the outbreak of war. There was much anti-Semitism in the town, as 60% of Mielec population were Jews. They had all their possessions confiscated by the Nazis.
Toby Biber

Her father was a dealer in grain, and she was one of seven children. She was fourteen years of age at the outbreak of war. There was much anti-semitism in the town as 60% of Mielec population were Jews. They had all their possessions confiscated by the Nazis.

In March 1942 they were rounded up and taken to the forest where they remained for 5 days. From there they moved to Dubienko where Tony and her sister, Sarah received forged documents and never saw their family again. They made their way to Krakow by the autumn of 1942, when the ghetto was liquidated and they moved to Plaszow, where they worked very long hours in a shoe factory.

In the summer of 1942 Toby and Sarah were transported to Auschwitz. Toby has the number A17537 tattooed onto her left arm and is still there today. In Auschwitz there was selection which in one direction meant death and the other direction was survival. There was no work in Auschwitz but Toby was given the job of cleaning the barracks. There were 1,000 women in each go the barracks.

One night in the summer of 1943 they were lined up for roll-call, where they were given a blanket and a piece of bread and were suddenly loaded onto cattle trucks for they knew not where. That journey was to the camp at Bergen-Belsen. They marched through the town in their camp uniforms but no one took any notice. They reached a clearing in the forest, where they found tents with straw on the ground inside. There was a storm that night and the tents collapsed.

The conditions in Bergen-Belsen were much worse than Auschwiotz, it was starvation camp. Toby and Sarah were there for eight months. The death rate amongst the inmates was extremely high, and people died from starvation and typhus. The British liberated the camp on 16th April 1945.

Eight days after liberation, Sarah, Toby’s sister died and Toby was also taken to hospital suffering with typhus. Gradually Toby recovered in the temporary hospital.

Later that year Toby met her husband Max, and she married him in Belsen, although he was also Polish he was in the British Army, but she was not allowed to leave the camp for another two years and stayed in the displaced persons camp until she came to the UK in September 1947.

At the end of the war Toby had lost her whole family except for her two brothers who survived and they were reunited after the war. Toby and Max were married for many years until Max passed away a few years ago.