NESSE GODIN – Holocaust survivor Auschwitz and Stuffhof.
Holocaust Survivor Nesse Godin nee Galperin was born in Lithuania into a Jewish community of over 10,000 members in Siauliai. On 26 June 1941, the Nazis occupied Siauliai. In the following weeks, Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) and Lithuanian police and military officials rounded up 1,000 Jewish men and boys under the pretense of cleaning up damage to the city. They were taken to the nearby Kuziai Forest, forced to dig large pits, made to strip, shot and buried in the mass graves they had just dug.
In August 1941, Godin and her family were forced into the Siauliai ghetto. On 5 November 1943, Godin’s father, Pinchas, was deported to Auschwitz and murdered in the gas chambers.
The remaining Jews in the Siauliai ghetto were deported to the Stutthof concentration camp in 1944. Godin became prisoner number 54015 and was separated from her mother and brother, Jecheskel. Her other brother Menashe evaded deportation with the help of a non-Jewish friend.
Jewish women looked after Godin in the camp at Stutthof. She was deported to four other slave labor camps and in January 1945 was sent on a death march with 1,000 female prisoners. When the Soviets liberated the group on 10 march 1945, only 200 women were alive.
By war’s end Godin, physically and emotionally broken, wanted to die. She recalls the women who looked after her saying “No no no, little girl get up, you must live for this is how you defeat Hitler”. Nesse found the courage to go on and today dedicates her life to the women who encouraged her to get up and carry on living.
In 1950, Godon and her husband Yankel immigrated to the US, settling in Washington DC. She has been a passionate advocate for Holocaust education at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum since before it opened in 1993.
Walk outside and look at the world around you. See a human being that the Lord in heaven created. Don’t see race or religion.Nesse Godin
This project would have been hugely incomplete without the testimony of at least one holocaust survivor. Since I was due to visit my sister Simonne and her husband Raul Quiros in Maryland in July 2017, I wrote to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.My enquiries were kindly responded to by Emily Potter, Program Coordinator Survivor Affairs and her colleague Steven Vitto, Survivor and Victim Family Researcher, who provided invaluable assistance in obtaining Godin’s signature, and later that of another holocaust survivor Mr. David Bayer.