‘We are designated to tell the world what happened’ – 92-year-old Holocaust survivors shares her experience

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A 92-year-old Holocaust survivor from New Jersey shared her thoughts and experiences of the time with fellow residents at the Brightview Senior Living home in Randolph.

Kate Bernath survived two separate concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

“If you smelled human flesh burning, you never forget it,” she says.

Bernath also recalls, “This girl came in and said, ‘If you think you’re gonna see your parents again - think again because they already went up in the chimney.’”

But Bernath, a mother of two, grandmother of four and great-grandmother of five says that she knows that she must talk about her experiences so that the tragedies are not forgotten.

“It is my duty to tell my story because we are designated to tell the world what happened and never let it die,” she says.

Bernath grew up in Hungary and was sent to Auschwitz when she was 16. She says she spent more than a year being moved between ghettos and concentration camps, enduring months of hard labor, extreme hunger and fear. She credits her survival to luck, her age and health.

“I have self-respect - I knew no matter what they said to me, or what they do to me, I'm still good and I'm better than they are,” she says.

Bernath says that after she was liberated she went back to her hometown in Hungary. She says that her teenage sweetheart Michael was there waiting for her. He had apparently been waiting at the train station every day for weeks hoping that she would come off one of the trains from Germany.

They eventually got married and moved to the United States to start a business and raise their children.

Michael died more than a year ago. Bernath says that she now tells both of their stories.

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