Holocaust survivor Faigla Fischel Moncznik shared her story at Thursday’s annual Kristallnacht commemoration hosted by the city of Corona and Congregation Beth Shalom at the Corona Public Library.

When Faigla Fischel Moncznik was 11 years old, she was taken from her family and loaded onto a cattle car bound for Neusalz—a forced-labor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Faigla Fischel Moncznik, left, with the help of her daughter, Penny Lindenbaum, share her story of survival at the Corona Public Library on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022. (City of Corona Facebook/screenshot) Credit: (City of Corona Facebook page/screenshot))

“My brother…ran up to me and said, ‘Don’t cry. My mother [is] gonna come and pick you up,’” Fischel Moncznik said. “I never saw them again.”

Fischel Moncznik shared her story as a Holocaust survivor at Thursday’s annual Kristallnacht commemoration hosted by the city of Corona and Congregation Beth Shalom at the Corona Public Library.

Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of Broken Glass, was an overnight campaign in which Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jewish people. Following the violence, approximately 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps.

The event was held just one week after Riverside County supervisors adopted a resolution condemning a recent rise in antisemitism.

“The hope was that we’re gonna go home and we’re gonna find everything normal,” Fischel Moncznik said. “This was our hope, and we went on and we didn’t know how long [we would be there].”

She said she was made to work between 10 and 12 hours a day in a factory that made the material for clothing worn for Nazi soldiers. She said the prisoners would get a bowl of soup when they got home from working and, every few days, were also given a piece of bread.

She spent four years at Neusalz before being forced to march to Flossenburg—a concentration camp 200 miles away in southeast Germany—along with the other girls and women at the camp.

“One thousand girls must have died; 200 girls survived,” she said. “The survival was because we hoped that we’re gonna go home, we’re gonna have a normal life, we’ll find our parents, and unfortunately, we did not.”

Once they got to Flossenburg, she said they were told to take off and throw away their clothes and shoes so they could take a shower. The shower was meant to precede their mass killing in a gas chamber, but that did not happen because the allied forces were too close for the Nazis to get rid of the bodies.

“So they turned off [the gas] and they gave us a shower,” Fischel Moncznik said. “And we took the shower and they put us in the barracks and then we sat there and waited and waited.”

After a few days of waiting in the barracks, they were loaded into cattle cars destined for Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

“When they fell out of the cattle cars after this long journey, that’s when they stepped over the bodies,” Penny Lindenbaum, Fischel Moncznik’s daughter, said. “There were piles and piles of bodies, and she said she didn’t know if she would be the next body on that pile.”

On April 15, 1945, British soldiers liberated the camp at Bergen Belsen. Inside they found approximately 60,000 prisoners inside, among them Fischel Moncznik.

“I went out, and I was standing in distress,” she said. “I went out and I stood in the strip and I was crying. [A soldier] asked, ‘Why are you crying?’ I said, ‘I don’t know who I am. I don’t know my name and who I am.’”

After being liberated, Fischel Moncznik—who was the youngest of five children—was eventually reunited with two of her siblings, a sister and a brother. She got married to a man named Berl Moncznik, immigrated to Israel, gave birth to her daughter [Lindenbaum] and then moved to The Bronx, a borough of New York City.

“I didn’t want to bring up a child in Germany,” Fischel Moncznik said. “I wanted to go to a Jewish country where they would recognize me and the child, that’s why I went. I never forget, I don’t hate them, but I don’t like them, and I never forget.”

Fischel Moncznik is now 94 years old and lives in an independent living facility in New Jersey. Lindenbaum currently resides in Henderson, Nevada.

You can watch a replay of the event here on the city of Corona’s Facebook page.

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