Renee Tully is an 85 year old survivor of the World War II.
Renee Hecht Tully was born on February 6, 1926. Her parents got divorced when she was 8: “My father went to look for a better life in Central America when I was 2 and never asked us to come and find him, so my parents got divorced.”
Renee was only 17 when the Nazis came for her, and earlier, for her mother, Frieda. She was Jewish, born in eastern Germany and was living in France under an assumed name. “I never practiced the Jewish religion in my life,” Renee Tully said, although the Nazis didn’t care.
When Hitler began to be more powerful in Germany, Tully’s mother moved her to an apartment in Paris. Then the Nazis invaded France. Both Tully and her mother changed their names and her mother moved to Nice. Though her Jewish identity was secret, her German identity was not.
“I figured they’re not going to get me,” she said. She was wrong. “Mother had some property in southern France and decided to transfer it to some good Christian friends to be safe and make sure it did not get confiscated by the Germans,” Renee said. “Well, those friends got hungry and denounced her to the Germans. And that’s how I got picked up because Mother had my address and my description.”
One day in 1942, a young man (later found out to be Peter Reich, a Jewish bounty hunter) came to her door. “I know where your mother is; she wants to see you. Come with me,” the man told her. “And naturally I didn’t worry about anything and just went with him and ended up in Drancy, an assembly camp outside of Paris,” she said. “And that’s where I found Mother. Mother had been arrested and brought to the assembly camp.”
“I’ll tell you one thing,” Tully said. “When we went into the transport I said to mother, ‘Mother, if it’s true what they are saying, that they kill people in those camps, well, that’s our fate, we can’t do anything about it. But if we survive we learn a lesson.’ I don’t know where that came to me, at that point, but that’s what it is.”
They were then transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. “(We) didn’t know it was Auschwitz when we got there,” Tully said. “We went through the whole rigmarole of being shaved and all of our clothes and everything being taken from us. And we really didn’t know what was going to happen. I mean, we had the good food: It had no calories, no fat, no nothing. And it was a case of wondering.”
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