My mother, Rose Regina Turek was born in Poland and was taken at a young age to Theresienstadt. She was liberated after the war and went to England. There she met with other survivors who had experienced similar losses. What kept these children strong, after losing their entire family, was the bond of friendship – kindred spirits. Many of these survivors stayed in contact with my mother until the day she passed away in 2013.
My sister Deborah and I learned a great deal from our mother. She was the strongest, most fearless person we ever knew. She taught us the importance of family and that friendship is a true gift.
The day the Nazis took my mother from her family, my grandparents gave my mother diamonds and rubies. Perhaps these precious gems might help their daughter gain access to a family that would hide her from the Nazis and prevent her from going to a concentration camp.
These precious gems only lasted so long. Eventually, my mother was taken to the concentration camp, where she experienced a life that could have taken the light out of her spirit. Yet, a strong flame continued to burn inside, and her will to live kept her alive. Rose Regina Turek left Theresienstadt and went to England, wearing only the ragged clothes on her back and holding a few cherished photographs of her family who died in Auschwitz.
I believe the photographs my mother held in her hands when she came to England were more valuable that the rubies and diamonds she left home with as a child. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then the words on those photographs are about family and love. When my mother passed away in 2013, her family gathered around her bed and talked only of family and love.
Ann David Mendoza