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Nina Katz

Tennessee Holocaust Commission -

Memphis, Tennessee
Born: 1924 Sosnowiec, Poland
Survivor : Hannsdorf Forced Labor Camp, Oberaltstadt Slave Labor Camp

“We had our own world in Poland but we weren't stupid. We knew who the Germans were. Their policies were not a shock. You learn to accept what you cannot understand. You ask why but there are no answers. I made it my mission to tell the world what happened to us and I haven't stopped yet. I keep that memory alive,” says Nina Katz, who was fifteen when the Nazis invaded her country.

Growing up in Poland, Nina was used to anti-Semitism. She was not surprised by the German invasion or the subsequent persecution.

In 1939 Nina's parents, grandfather, and younger sister were taken to Auschwitz concentration camp. She says, “Because I was strong and tall and appeared able to handle hard work,” she was sent to Hannsdorf in Czechoslovakia to work in a textile mill, then to Oberaltstadt, where there was a linen factory. She filled large spools of yarn on an assembly line. “I was tall and I could reach the machines so they kept me there.” Nina recalls, “The older inmates who had been there the longest were mostly just confused. They kept asking the new arrivals what they had heard outside before coming in. Had they committed a crime? Had they done something wrong? Why were they there?“

Nina was among eight hundred survivors out of three thousand at Oberaltstadt. Her family gone, she married her childhood sweetheart and moved to Israel. In 1949 they came to the United States. To her horror, she says, “I arrived at the peak of segregation in America and the familiarity was more than I could bear. I became immediately involved in equal rights among all people.“