Holocaust survivor speaks at CSU on enduring childhood


Collegian | Serena Bettis

Holocaust survivor Sara Moses addresses hundreds of Colorado State University community members in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom March 1. Moses was very young during the Holocaust and shared her story as part of CSU’s annual Holocaust Awareness Week.

Max Dietz

Rebekah Barry, Staff Reporter

As a young girl, Sara Moses had never seen a flower. She hadn’t tasted ice cream nor chocolate. She was a little Jewish girl whose whole life had been tidal-waved with violence, loss and extreme hunger.

Moses came to share her story March 1 at Colorado State University as part of the school’s Holocaust Awareness Week.


Moses’ hometown of Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland, was the first of many cities within Poland to become a Nazi-occupied Jewish ghetto during World War II. Despite the violent nature of the ghetto, Moses was still able to sleep in her mother’s arms.

Moses was hidden with one of her family’s trusted Christian friends when the time came for people to be transported to camps. Moses was smuggled back to the ghetto after the Nazis had left with a select group of Jews. She remembers feeling like she had done something bad when her mother was separated from her.

“When I got there, I was told that my mother was gone. … I wasn’t told what happened to her,” Moses said. “I thought maybe it was because I was so bad. … I found out later that my mother — an innocent young woman — was taken to the death camp Treblinka, where she was murdered in the gas chamber.”

“My hope is, for our world, that all individuals, all people, races, religions, nationalities, countries … treat others by the golden rule — by the same standards they have. And then I think we would have real hope for a world of peace.” -Sara Moses, Holocaust survivor

The Nazis even walked people to work during their time in the ghettos. Moses saw a man who broke away and tried to run. He was shot by one of the guards. She was only a little girl when this took place.

“I saw the man’s blood flowing out before he even hit the ground,” Moses said.

Moses and her mother’s half sister were later set aboard a cattle train and transported to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.

“(There were) no calendars, no radios or TVs to tell us what day it was we knew it was today,” Moses said. “And dates and times are still kind of not something I’m good at. That was my foundation, but we knew it was today.”

Moses attributes her survival to one of the Nazi guards in the camp.

“A female guard was very good to me. I reminded her of her little girl,” Moses said. “Looking back, I believe that because this Nazi guard saw her own German child’s face in the face of a Jewish child, it must have touched her heart. I believe that that little bit of food that she would give me gave me an advantage that the other children didn’t get, and I think it was part of what helped me to survive the death camps.”


In 1945, five days after Moses’ seventh birthday, British soldiers came to rescue her and her people. Throughout her time in the death camps, Moses suffered from scarlet fever, severe hunger, typhus fever and the like. She said by the time the soldiers found her, they thought she was a baby because of how small and sickly she was. She was taken to the hospital, where she was fed small amounts of food.

British soldiers compiled a list of the survivors they had found throughout the multiple camps.

My father survived Buchenwald,” Moses said. “He found me on one of those lists, and as soon as he could, he set out on a trip to the displaced camps one of the most glorious days of my life, when we were reunited.”

Her father had thought of her every day they were apart. But one of the best things Moses remembers is her father gifted her a “real doll” and costume jewelry.

One of the reasons Moses said she feels compelled to tell her story to others is because of the message of hope and survival it conveys. She hopes younger generations will continue to pass on the stories of these survivors so their history will not be forgotten.

“I think there is a lot of hope for all the good things and all the good people,” Moses said. “There is a lot of hope to make against evil. … My hope is, for our world, that all individuals, all people, races, religions, nationalities, countries … treat others by the golden rule by the same standards they have. And then I think we would have real hope for a world of peace.”

Reach Rebekah Barry at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @RebekahB24708.