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Ticket to Freedom

Machla Abramovitz

Sessi Dzialowski was only eleven years old when she escaped from Germany on a Kindertransport, a rescue mission that saved nearly 10,000 children from Nazi persecution. The now great-grandmother shares her poignant, powerful story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On December 1, 1938, Sessi Dzialowski waved goodbye to her mother for the last time. The eleven-year-old girl was flanked by two of her older brothers as she boarded the first Kindertransport. Sessi and her brothers, Leo, thirteen, and Salo, fifteen, each clutched a suitcase as they embarked on a journey from Berlin toward an uncertain future — but a future nonetheless.

On that fateful morning, there were no farewells at the train station because the Nazis had forbidden it. The 207 children from Berlin, Stuttgart, and Leipzig had been forced to say their goodbyes earlier. The scene was terrible. Children were crying. Many didn’t even know why they were being separated from their parents. Fathers and mothers were putting on brave faces, assuring their precious children that the situation was temporary — that soon, G-d willing, they would be reunited as a family again — all the while knowing that this dream might never be realized.

As the train prepared to leave, the children desperately pressed their faces against the window to catch a final glimpse of their parents. But, due to Nazi’s orders, there were no beloved faces on the platform to wave back or throw a final kiss.

The Dzialowski siblings, however, could see their mother. Cilly Rosenak Dzialowski, granddaughter of Rabbi Dr. Solomon Carlebach, ztz”l, had spent much of the prior evening checking out the layout of the station. She had discovered that if she stood on an embankment, she would be invisible to those on the platform, yet visible to the passengers on the train.

“ ‘When you get on to the train,’ my mother told us, ‘move to the right side and look out the window. You will see me there,’ ” remembers Sessi. “And, indeed, there she was — alone — shivering against the cold, a forced smile on her face as she waved to us her final goodbyes.” This was the last time Sessi saw her mother. Cilly tragically died in Bergen-Belsen on March 23, 1945, two months prior to the German surrender.

 

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