My grandson Guy and I were sitting in the apartment in New York, telling each other silly stories, laughing and having fun, when he suddenly, out of the blue, asked me about the transports to concentration camps. He knew of course that I had been deported from Vienna and we had talked a little about it before, but this was a more specific question. I didn’t want to go into too many details, so I said that we were taken by trains to our various destinations. When he wanted to know about life in Auschwitz, I described to him the barracks with the wooden planks, which were serving as our beds, and I told him that space was very scarce and we were pushed together like sardines. “Savta (grandmother),” he interrupted me, “I know exactly how you felt”. I looked at him, and saw tears in his eyes and when I asked him what he meant, he told me what had happened to him some time ago in summer camp. All the children had to go through a narrow corridor to the swimming pool, and one day too many kids pushed in and Guy became very frightened. He couldn’t breathe and thought he was choking. He had never told anybody about it, but my story brought it all back to him. I was very touched by his sensitivity and the empathy he felt with me. Afterwards we talked about different things, but I felt even closer to him than before.

Lucy Mandelstam

June 2000