"Living a normal life and then ending up in a ghetto must have been pure hell!"
The family lived in Lodz on Wolborska Street (the name of the street in Polish) or after the Germans occupied the city they gave the city the name Litzmannstadt and the street was named Rauch Gasse instead. The Fuks family were orthodox, which meant that they visited the nearest synagogue Alte Szil several times a day. Before the war there was a large synagogue close to where they lived but it burned down immediately when the Germans took over the city in 1940. Ber has told members of his family that his father Mendel used to give away money and food to the needy daily.
Father Mendel owned a small company that made the upper parts of boots and he had a leather layer. The family was not well-off but they did well before the war on it. Mendel's wife, Feiga, was a housewife and the family lived in a small apartment on Rauch Gasse 19 apartment 20 which housed the entire family of 6 persons and another 2 people, the mother Helene Bechler and the daughter Sala. The father and mother of the Fuks family were cousins, it was not unusual then (this has not been proved yet, we're still looking for proof). The oldest daughter in the family, Mindla, worked as a nurse at the hospital. The boys Lemel and Ber worked in the family company together with the father in the factory. Esther worked at an unknown factory.
Ever since they ended up in the ghetto, Feiga ate bad or very little. Because she was a housewife and had no job identification card, she did not get any food ration. Ber has told to his son that his mother made sure that the children first got food and if there were any food left, she took it. She died of malnutrition on May 27, 1942. There was no more information than she was staying in the ghetto and the date she died.
One day in mid-1942, SS knocked at the Fuks door and wanted parts of the layer of leather by the father. He gave them the leather after each abuse because he opposed it when it gave the family food on the table. It happened several times until the whole layer of leather was handed over to the Germans. When the SS no longer got any leather, they beat him so hard that he was seriously injured. The children witnessed all this. He was taken to the hospital where he died on July 11, 1942, of his injuries. In the JewishGen hospital database it is stated that he died of malnutrition.
Elder sister Mindla was sent by truck to the Chelmno death camp on September 12, 1942. She is believed to have been killed by the diesel exhaust in a specially built and air-tight cabinet on a truck. According to eyewitnesses and survivors from Chelmno, 12-13 truck Lorries were filled full of about 1 000 people daily to the woods around Chelmno around this date. There they were buried in mass graves after the corpse had been violated from everything of value (gold teeth, hidden valuables in the female genitals, rectum, etc.). At least 150,000 were murdered in Chelmno, of which about 71,000 were Lodz residents. Later the mass graves were excavated by Jewish prison workers in September 1944 in order to cremate all the decomposed human bodies. The Germans knew that what was going on in this death camp was to be regarded as very serious by the advancing allied forces. Therefore as much evidence as possible was removed or destroyed to prevent that nothing of value or what really happened there could ever be told. Also, when this work was completed, most of the approximately 50 Jewish prison workers were executed. There is an event report in the JewishGen that she was deported to Chelmno on September 12, 1942.
Now only 3 people from the Fuks family were still alive. Ber told that when they were told about the uprising in Warsaw ghetto (April 19 - May 16, 1943), his older brother Lemel understood that life in Lodz's ghetto would be much more difficult. At the same time, Lodz ghetto's fate was sealed, a total liquidation. He therefore hid his siblings plus 7 others in a secret room behind a closet. They had very little food and their legs swelled by the famine. Ber has told that what they ate most of was raw yellow onion. Life was very hard until their deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau in mid-August 1944.