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Episode Info: REVELO ISSUE 04 • Written by Brooke Carlock Miller Story Sponsor: ZIG’S BAKERY & CAFE 800 East Newport Road, Lititz PA 17543 (717) 626-7981 • As Kitty Byk shares the stories of her harrowing experience during the Holocaust in Austria, she laughs. She laughs as she describes lying in the yard of a work camp, staring up at the sky and listening to the whistles of bombs falling all around her. She laughs as she recounts hacking a cow to pieces and eating the raw shreds because she hadn’t eaten meat in ten years. Kitty’s ability to recall these traumatic events with laughter rather than tears or terror serves as a testament to her resilience. Hearing her speak is a moving, and also somewhat mystifying journey into the human spirit. Kitty was 12 years old when Hitler’s Nazi party took over her hometown of Vienna, Austria in 1938. Her father was Jewish, and lost his job when race laws took effect and businesses were no longer allowed to employ Jews. When Kitty’s uncle, a WWI veteran, was sent to a concentration camp and executed, Kitty’s father realized he was in grave danger. Sponsored by a cousin living in the United States, Kitty’s father escaped from Austria in 1939, begrudgingly leaving his family behind. Because she had Jewish blood, Kitty was not allowed to attend school. She was told to report for work at a place that sewed army uniforms. Kitty was a hard worker, and did well, until one day when a large needle in her sewing machine slipped and punctured her thumb. The wound became infected, and Jews were not allowed medical care, so Kitty was forced to stay home. Because she was not working, she lost her food ration benefits. Kitty explains, “Of course I hadn’t been getting any food on those days that I wasn’t working, so I immediately went back to the Labor Department when I was healed. The minute I got there, they took me and put me in one of their vehicles. They took me to the Siemens factory on the outskirts of Vienna. And that’s where I spent the next two years.” Kitty smiles as she remembers the other inhabitants of the work camp where she spent ages 14 to 16. It was a “funny group of people,” she recalls, consisting of French POWs, Czechoslovakian prisoners, a group of nuns who had been caught harboring Jews, and a few of what the Nazis called “undesirables,” Kitty explains, “including me, but also prostitutes and homosexuals.” The motley crew was sheltered in a warehouse with a makeshift wall separating the men and women, some uncomfortable bunks without mattresses, pillows, or blankets, and one toilet in a corner. “Every morning we were marched out and inspected… and if we were found ready to work, you were ok. If not, you disappeared,” Kitty says matter-of-factly. Two years of grueling work manufacturing parts for V-2 rockets passed by, during which Kitty survived on a daily ration of one piece of bread, a c...
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