Holocaust survivor kept her jewels hidden

February 3, 2011
The pendant is a daily reminder of Lily Ebert’s experience

The pendant is a daily reminder of Lily Ebert’s experience

Lily Ebert, 80, claims to be the only Auschwitz survivor to have left with her jewellery.

Born in Hungary, she was sent to a ghetto with her mother and siblings. "My brother took my mother's jewellery, a diamond ring and my pendant, and put it in the heel of my mother's shoe. He was then taken away to a forced labour camp.

"From the ghetto, we were taken in cattle trucks - five terrible days with little food or water. You could not sleep or move. On the last day my mother said to me: 'Maybe we should swap shoes.'"

At Auschwitz, she and two sisters were put to work but her mother and younger brother and sister were sent to the gas chambers.

"We had a shower and our hair was cut off. When we came out all our clothes were gone except our shoes. We could see flames coming from the chimney and there was a terrible smell. People said it was where our familes had gone, that they were burning. We thought they were mad. We could not believe it but it was true."

She kept the precious items safe during her time in the camp. "Over time the heel of my shoe got worn out in Auschwitz so I took the jewellery and concealed it every day in my ration of bread. Against the odds, my two sisters and I and my older brother survived the worst that could happen to a human being." The gold pendant "is a constant reminder of what was lost and what survived". She gave the ring to her sister Piri.

Her story featured in the exhibition at the main HMD ceremony.

Last updated: 2:39pm, February 3 2011