The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program

Judith Rubinstein

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Born
September 19, 1920 Mezőcsát, Hungary

Map of Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia

Immigrated
1948 Toronto

The train from Hungary to Auschwitz brings Judith face-to-face with Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death, who will decide her fate. Her mother’s quick actions are all that stand between her and certain death. At twenty-four years old, she struggles to stay alive after being separated from her family as they pass from the ghettos of Hungary to the Nazi labour and concentration camps. Judith endures the destruction of her family, yet rebuilds her life and dignity.


Contains graphic violence, sexual violence.

About Judith

Judith Rubinstein was born in Mezőcsát, Hungary, in 1920. After surviving Auschwitz-Birkenau, Judith was liberated by the Americans from a labour camp in Germany in May 1945. Judith immigrated to Canada in 1948 with her husband, Bela Rubinstein. She had a son and a daughter and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Judith passed away in 2013.

Photos and Artifacts

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    Judith’s maternal grandparents, Aryeh Leib and Feige Leah Hofstadter. Mezőkövesd, Hungary, circa 1940.

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    Judith’s maternal grandfather and his sons. Back row, left to right: uncles Moshe and Zev. Front row, left to right: uncle Yaakov, grandfather Aryeh Leib Hofstadter and uncle Heszu. Mezőkövesd, Hungary, circa 1935.

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    Judith’s mother, Rachel Schwarcz, on the far left, and Judith’s great-aunts. Mezőkövesd, Hungary, circa 1935.

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    Judith (right) and her cousin Rose Weisz. Ujhely, Hungary, circa 1938.

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    Judith’s brother Menachem, five years old. Szerencs, Hungary, circa 1943.

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    Judith soon after liberation with her nine Lager sisters (camp sisters), who had worked together at Auschwitz. Judith sewed all the outfits herself out of Nazi officer bedsheets. Top row, from left to right: Greta, Selma, Klara, Magda and Judith. Bottom row, from left to right: Judith’s cousin Regina Hofstadter, Bracha, Anika, Taubie and Margit. Schwerin, Germany, spring 1945.

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    Judith in post-liberation Europe, circa 1945.

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    Judith. Italy, fall 1946.

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    Judith and her husband-to-be, Béla Rubinstein. Grugliasco, Italy. May 1946.

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    Judith’s sister-in-law Vera Rubinstein (left) and Judith. Grugliasco, Italy, circa 1946.

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    Judith and Béla on their wedding day. Grugliasco, Italy. June 9, 1947.

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    Judith and Béla’s wedding day in the DP camp. Judith is in a white dress sitting in the second row and Béla is next to her. Cousins Magda and Béla Zimmerman are on their left; Vera Rubinstein is on their right; and Judith’s husband’s brother Armin Rubinstein is behind Judith. Grugliasco, Italy. June 9, 1947.

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    Left to right: Judith’s husband’s brother Armin Rubinstein; Judith and her husband, Béla; Béla’s niece Magda Zimmerman with her son, David, and her husband, Béla; Vera and her husband, Dezső Rubinstein; Béla’s niece Kicsi and her husband, Judith’s cousin Sandor Hofstadter. unrra DP camp #17, Grugliasco, Italy. 1947.

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    Judith’s brother Yitzhak Schwarcz. France, circa 1948.

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    Béla’s brother Armin Rubinstein, Judith and Béla. Grugliasco, Italy, 1948.

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    Judith and her son, Eli. Grugliasco, Italy. Summer 1948.

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    Judith and Béla. Toronto, winter 1949.

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    In the back, from left to right: Judith’s husband’s brother Dezső Rubinstein, cousin Sandor Hofstadter and husband, Béla Rubinstein, behind their wives. Middle row: Vera Rubinstein, Kicsi Hofstadter and Judith. Front: Dezső and Vera’s daughter, Annie; Sandor and Kicsi’s son, George; Béla and Judith’s son, Eli. Toronto, 1952.

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    Judith and her son, Eli, at Sunnyside Beach in Toronto, circa 1952.

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    Judith and Béla with their children, Rochelle and Eli. Toronto, summer 1955.

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    On the left: Vera Rubinstein with her two daughters, Susie and Annie. In the middle: Kicsi Hofstadter with her son George on her shoulders and son Tommy in front. On the right: Judith with her son, Eli, behind her and daughter, Rochelle, in front. Toronto, summer 1955.

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    Judith and Béla with their daughter, Rochelle, at three years old. Toronto, August 1956.

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    Judith’s daughter, Rochelle; husband, Béla; son, Eli; and Judith at Eli’s bar mitzvah. Toronto, March 1961.

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    Judith and her brother Yitzhak Schwarcz. Niagara Falls, Ontario. August 1974.

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    Judith’s daughter, Rochelle, Judith and Rochelle’s son, Jesse. Visiting the Jewish cemetery in Mezőkövesd, Hungary. 1983.

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    Judith and Béla with their granddaughter Tamar Rubinstein. Toronto, 1978.

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    Judith and Béla with their grandson Zekiel G. Rubinstein Kaplan. Toronto, 1987.

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    In the back, left to right: Judith’s granddaughter Tamar; son, Eli; daughter-in-law, Renée; grandson Ilan; daughter, Rochelle; granddaughter Alisha Rubinstein Kaplan; son-in-law, Allan. In the middle: Judith and Béla. In the front, left to right: grandchildren Jesse Armin Rubinstein Kaplan, Zekiel G. Rubinstein Kaplan and Hadassa and Erez Rubinstein. Grandson Ilan’s bar mitzvah. Toronto, September 1990.

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    Judith at her grandson Jesse Armin Rubinstein Kaplan’s wedding. Toronto, May 24, 2009.

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    Judith at Rochelle’s farm in Hillsburgh, Ontario, northwest of Toronto. Circa 2011.

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    Judith with her great-grandchildren. Behind: Yisrael Koschitzky. In front, left to right: Lior Rubinstein, Max and Ellian Koschitzky, Maya Rubinstein, Kineret Koschitzky, Judith, Yishai Koschitzky and Dov Rubinstein. Sparrow Lake, Ontario, summer 2011. 

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    A gathering of four generations: Judith, her great-grandson Charlie Kaplan, her daughter, Rochelle, and her grandson Jesse Armin Rubinstein Kaplan. Toronto, 2012.

The Book

Cover of Dignity Endures

Dignity Endures

What they told us was a lie. After several days of travelling under the most degrading conditions, broken in spirit, hungry and dying of thirst, stripped of our human dignity, we finally arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau, a place we had never heard of before.

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Dignity Endures

Arrival at Auschwitz

We were pulled down from the cattle cars and the selection began. On the platform, excellent music played by inmates in striped uniforms welcomed us. By the fence, Nazi soldiers were waiting for the sick and feeble, promising to take them to the hospital right away. Another lie. They were thrown into what looked like ambulances, and we found out later that they had been immediately taken to the gas chambers and gassed instantly. Next came the mothers with small children. The Jewish inmates warned the mothers with children to give their children to their elderly relatives to try to save themselves but hardly anyone listened and almost all of them were killed. A few minutes later, my father disappeared with my brother Shimon, and I never saw them again.

As I was standing huddled with my mother and little brother, along came a high-ranking SS officer, who we later found out was Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazis’ infamous Angel of Death, and he started the selection among the women. He sent all of the older women to one side, separating them from the young, healthy-looking younger women. All those in the latter category went to the other side where they lined up, five in a row.

Her maternal instinct must have inspired my mother to do what she did next. In front of us stood four tall, good-looking girls, whom we knew from the ghetto. They were holding hands with three children, their little nieces and nephew, whose parents were hiding in Budapest. My mother pulled the children to her side and pushed me to be the fifth in the row with the four girls. “I will take care of the children” she told them, “and you take care of Judith.”

I started to protest and turned around to go back to her, but within a minute my mother had disappeared with the three small children and my little brother. That was the last time I saw her.