Shmuel Schelach (formerly Robert Schlesinger) was born on 19 January, 1934 in Mytna Nova Ves, Czechoslovakia. His parents were Artur and Jolan Schlesinger, and he had one younger brother. In September 1944, Shmuel and his 6 year-old brother were sent ahead of their parents to a pre-arranged hiding place in the city of Nitra. Their parents planned to join them there, but were caught by the Germans. After wandering from one hiding place to another, without any money to pay those who hid them, Shmuel and his brother were also caught in October 1944. They were sent to the Sered camp, and from there, they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 31 October, 1944.
On their arrival at Birkenau, they waited inside the cattle cars for the Germans to decide their fate. (Everyone on the previous transport had been sent to the gas chambers). In the late afternoon, they were brought down from the cars, and contrary to the usual procedure, they did not undergo selection, but were taken inside Birkenau with their belongings. “From there on” says Schelach “it was pure luck”. They were able to see their mother twice, through the barbed wire fence, before she was sent on a death march from Auschwitz to Bergen Belsen.
Shmuel and his brother were liberated by the Red Army on 27 January, 1945.
After the war, they were in an orphanage in Czechoslovakia, where they were eventually reunited with their father. Shmuel emigrated to Israel in 1949, where he became a technician. Today he lives in Nahariyya, married with 2 children.