The Story of Mascha Nachmansson 1920 – 2012
Mascha Nachmansson née Stern was born in Łódź in December 1920. She was number eight of 12 children born to Yenta and Yitzchak Stern. Although her family were poor, her father was a highly respected Orthodox Rabbi.
Mascha was very studious and won a scholarship to her senior school. Her hopes of a university education were dashed because of antisemitic laws restricting Jews from higher education and by the invasion of Nazi Germany into Poland in 1939.
Soon after the Nazi occupation, the family were forced into the Łódź ghetto. Cramped conditions, starvation and rampant disease caused the deaths of her parents, one brother and one sister with her husband. Another sister was murdered in the gas chambers at Chelmno needs the Polish L Concentration Camp.
Mascha survived by working in the ghetto where deep friendships, together with luck, helped her to survive. In 1944, when the ghetto was liquidated, she was transported to Auschwitz, described by her as ‘Hell on Earth’. Fortunately, Mascha was ‘bought’ by a Berlin ammunition factory as a slave labourer. Surviving air raids on the factory, she was transported to another concentration camp, Ravensbruck, and was finally rescued by the Swedish Red Cross just before the end of the war.
She arrived in Malmo, Sweden, on 28 April 1945. She married Sigurd, a Swedish Jew, and had two daughters. Her deeply moving story is told by her daughter Jeanette, using a range of family photos and recorded clips of Mascha retelling her story.
Mascha dedicated her life to educating the next generation, emphasising what happens when hatred is unchallenged. Mascha never forgot her Jewish roots and her deep connection to her past. She made sure that the people who perished would never be forgotten.
Mascha’s message is of tolerance, education and love.
Presented by Jeanette Marx
Jeanette worked for 24 years as a physiotherapist. Since her early retirement she has continued to volunteer for numerous charities, such as Jewish Women’s Aid, Bereavement Support, Home Start and Jewish and multifaith groups.
She has also dedicated her time to continue telling her mother’s Holocaust story. For many years Mascha herself used to speak to schools and adult groups in Sweden, where she lived until moving to London to be cared for in her later years by Jeanette and her family.
Mascha’s inner strength, her dignity in her approach to her experiences, and her absolute belief in and dedication to Holocaust education inspired Jeanette to continue in her mother’s footsteps and in memory of all who had perished in the Holocaust.