Born: 1920 Slobodka, Lithuania
Survivor : Kovno Ghetto, Dachau Concentration Camp
“What I remember most about the Lithuanians was the betrayal,“ says Sol Stein. “We had a neighbor who we fed and cared for regularly but when the Germans moved in, he turned us in to them. Just like that. We went from feeding and helping him to hiding from him.“
After the German invasion in 1941, anti-Semitism spread. Sol's mother fled to Russia, leaving her five children behind. The Germans forced Sol and his four sisters into Kovno ghetto. Digging ditches kept him alive: “I was always used to hard work. I think the hard work of the ghetto kept me moving, kept me clear-headed.“
Sol was later transported to Dachau in a railcar crammed with a hundred people. His job at the camp was loading bags of cement. He says, “There was a guard who used to give me a piece of bread. I don't know why. He was kind I guess.“ Once he was caught praying. “A guard saw us. He knew what we were doing so he took us outside. In the freezing weather he sprayed ice water on us. It was so cold, but we would have done it again.“
In 1945, as the American Army advanced, the Germans evacuated. Sol recalls, “They told us they were marching us from Dachau to Switzerland, so we walked. We walked for weeks in the freezing cold. More than half of us died along the way.“ He describes coming upon a dead horse: “We went crazy, ripping it to pieces and eating it. In less than a few minutes there was nothing left of that horse. “At war's end, Sol weighed around seventy pounds.