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Auschwitz survivor speaks out against rise in antisemitism

Auschwitz survivor talks about rise in antisemitism
Auschwitz survivor talks about rise in antisemitism 02:13

VOORHEES, N.J. (CBS) - Of the first group of Jewish people who were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camps, only two members are still alive, and one of them lives in Voorhees. 

Regina Schwartzova-Pretter, 97, still has her concentration camp number tattooed on her left arm.

"I just try to do the best I could for myself," Schwartzova-Pretter said. "When the time is bad, the crying don't help." 

Schwartzova-Pretter grew up in what was then part of Czechoslovakia. 

"My family was a nice family. We had a nice home," she said. "But then when the war start, we got destroyed." 

As her family sat down for Passover dinner in 1942, the Gestapo came to their house and took away her and two of her sisters. 

She was the 64th Jewish person to enter Auschwitz.


"They hollered at you, you know. They beat you," she said. "I went through war, suffered, but I survived."

She was eventually liberated and immigrated to America, where she met her husband.

As the Anti-Defamation League reports a record number of antisemitic incidents in America in 2021, Celia Pretter, Schwartzova-Pretter's daughter, said it's important for people to understand the significance of her mother's journey.

"The lack of malice [she has]," Pretter said. "The genuineness, and the want for everyone to know what happened to her should not happen to anyone ever again." 

Sometimes, Schwartzova-Pretter looks back on her 97 years in astonishment. 

"Today, sometimes, I think back. I don't know how I made it," Schwartzova-Pretter said. "I do the best I could."

Recently, a delegation from the Holocaust Museum in Sered, Slovakia interviewed Schwartzova-Pretter and will use a recording of the interview to educate future generations to fight antisemitism.

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