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Holocaust Memorial Day 2021

27 January 2021 | Tagged: Senior School, Junior School, School Community, Events

The Story of Susan Singerman

Susan Gerofi, later Susan Singerman (pictured above left, with her sister), was a teacher of Modern Languages at the Glasgow High School for Girls. She never talked about what she had been through during the war until after her retirement but this is her story...

Susan was born in 1926 in Hungary and was an Orthodox Jew. She performed outstandingly well at school, graduating as dux in 1943, and was fluent in English, French and German. Despite her excellent exam results, she was not allowed to go to university due to mounting discrimination against Jews. When Germany invaded Hungary in 1944, the Gerofi family had to move into a ghetto with just one suitcase between them. Just weeks later, the then 19 year old Susan was sent to Auschwitz along with her grandmothers, parents, 12 year old sister, and many aunts, uncles and cousins. They endured four days in a cattle truck alongside 100 other people with only one bucket of water and one bucket for waste between them.

On arrival at Auschwitz, Dr Joseph Mengele, known as the ‘Angel of Death’ was responsible for sorting the newly arrived prisoners into two groups; those who were strong enough to work, and those who would go straight to the gas chambers. He told Susan to go to the right but sent her sister, mother, aunt, cousin and grandmother to the left - they all died. Over the next months she survived a number of other Mengele selection procedures. In one such selection, she thought she had heard her mother’s voice telling her to take off her glasses. She did just that and believed that this was what saved her life.

At the end of March 1945, the Germans ordered her and her fellow workers to embark on a forced march to Belsen, a concentration camp. En route, they were put in a barn one night and the next morning, when the prisoners awoke, there was no sign of their captors. They ran to the nearest village and met Allied soldiers, who liberated them.

After tracing an aunt and uncle who were found to be staying near Glasgow, Susan moved there in 1946, beginning a degree in French and German at Glasgow University. After graduating, Susan went on to teach at The Glasgow High School for Girls. She helped to form and run the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination which worked to raise awareness of racism and to campaign against racial discrimination.

After her retirement, Susan found the strength to begin speaking to young people at schools about her experiences.

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