Spots of Light - Women in the Holocaust


Dita Kurschner

Convinced that no Jew would survive the Holocaust, Dita considered it imperative to record Jewish prayers. With no knowledge of Hebrew, she phonetically transcribed prayers, as she heard them, into Latin characters.

Dita was born in Vienna in 1930; her family fled to Hungary in 1939. In April 1944, they were moved into a ghetto and in June 1944, deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In Auschwitz, Dita’s mother, Hedy, adopted fifteen-year-old Zsuzsana (Zsuzsi) Weber, whose family had been murdered. They were sent from Auschwitz to Gelsenkirchen and on to Sommerda. It was at this camp that Dita stole stickers from ammunition boxes, on which she recorded the prayers recited by a woman named Klari Kahna. As the war neared its end, the camp inmates were taken on a death march. Klari Kahna was killed in a shelling on liberation day. Dita’s father, Lajos, was murdered. Dita, her mother, and Zsuzsi were liberated in Reinholdshain and immigrated to Israel.

There was a woman there, Klari Kahna. She prayed all day and night. I listened to her prayers and I thought I’d write them down so that if we’d die they would know that Jewish women had been there. I sat next to her all night, writing. She prayed in archaic Hebrew and I recorded the prayers in Latin characters.

From the testimony of Dita (Kurschner) Segal, 2006
Hedy and Dita in a displaced persons’ camp, 1946 Hedy and Dita in a displaced persons’ camp, 1946
Handwritten transcription of prayers, DitaHandwritten transcription of prayers, Dita