LOUISVILLE – It’s a piece of history that must forever be told, according to a woman who lived through it.
And, Kitty Williams, a survivor of the Nazi holocaust of World War II, is doing her part as she recalled her experiences to students in Louisville on March 6.
Williams, now living in Council Bluffs, survived the horror, but six million of her fellow Jews did not.
“I need to speak for them,” Williams said.
Unfortunately, there are many in today’s society who apparently are in denial of this terrible moment in time and that can’t be tolerated, according to Williams.
She spoke for more than an hour to a packed gymnasium with the students seemingly enthralled on her every word.
Raised in eastern Hungary, Williams was harassed at an early age, including one boy calling her a “dirty Jew,” but the love from her family kept her strong.
“I had so much love in my family that I had a fairly normal childhood,” she said.
Things would eventually change, especially when Germany invaded Hungary.
“My idyllic life changed a lot,” Williams said. “We were prisoners in our own home.”
One night a group of “hoodlums and soldiers” knocked on the door demanding to see her, Williams recalled.
Her father convinced them she wasn’t at home.
“I was under the bed shaking.”
One day, she was arrested and placed in jail.
“I cried three days and nights,” Williams said.
She was released after a woman walked eight miles to the jail. There was also a man she called “Uncle Mike” who jeopardized his life to befriend her.
“He would have been shot,” Williams said.
Eventually, she and others were rounded up and sent to different ghettos – on foot.
“We walked from town to town. It was a form of punishment.”
There was also a train ride to Auschwitz, in which 80 to 90 people were packed into each car.
“We were like sardines in a can,” she said.
Actually, the train stopped some five miles away with long lines of women forced to walk the remaining distance.
Upon arrival, she saw people fenced in who looked like skeletons.
Williams recalled how women took their clothes off to shower only to receive “rags around our bodies” when finished.
One night she remembered hearing horrible cries and a “most horrible smell.”
“They were sending gypsies to the gas chamber,” Williams said.
She would later meet her oldest sister, for the first since her sister had been pregnant.
Upon inquiring, Williams was told the baby had died in a ghetto.
Williams would later work in a munitions plant that seemed like “paradise” to her earlier surroundings.
She was freed when the Allies overtook Auschwitz and the other concentration camps.
Williams concluded by telling the students to treat each other as they themselves would want to be treated and to speak up to those in denial of this tragedy.
“It was very powerful,” said ninth-grader Brooke Smith of the speech.