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Holocaust survivor shares her story with Abilene high schoolers

Shelly Womack
Holocaust survivor Paula Weissman describes her upbringing for Abilene high school students.

More than a thousand students from Abilene’s high schools gathered to listen to Holocaust survivor Paula Weissman describe her horrific experinces in Nazi labor camps and her life after moving to America.

Paula Weissman grew up in a village in what was then Czechoslovakia, and was just 15 years old when she was permanently separated from her family. She was sent to work in Hamburg where she spent long days cleaning bricks and scraping ice off train tracks. She explained for her audience that she and the other workers were fed nothing but raw minnows, “We had no name, only a number, so that’s how you communicate. Four, five, six, seven, whatever number.”

After working in Hamburg, officials transferred Weissman to Auschwitz and then Bergen-Belsen, where she stayed for 10 months before liberation. After taking time to regain her strength, Weissman began her journey to the United States by hitchhiking to the U.S. embassy in Munich. “I couldn’t speak English," Weissman told the audience. "So what could I say, so I said ‘Me go America.’ They said ‘Get in!’”

Weissman shared her love for America with the students, and expressed her gratitude for being able to live in a free country. Afterwards, many students lined up to take photos with Weissman and thank her for sharing her story.