Home In Memory

I was born in Hungary on August 24, 1927. I am the daughter of Rabbi Salomon Rosenfeld and Rebbetzin Rozsi Rosenfeld.

I was the fourth of seven children. I had three brothers - Andor, Sandor, and Victor - and three sisters - Iren, Aranka, and Valerie. We were raised in a wonderful environment. There was much harmony, which made us feel very secure.

My father was an orthodox rabbi.  He was very wise, and he was a great leader.  My father was loved and respected in our community. My mother had a very charitable heart. She was a wonderful cook and, when I was little, we had delicious and abundant meals .  I went to a Jewish elementary school, then to Jublie Middle School in Putnok, a Hungarian border town where my family lived.

My childhood was full of love and safety.  I loved school and reading and always had lots of books in my home.  My father studied a lot and had his own yeshiva with local and out of town students. I admired my father and idolized him more than anyone else.

Religion was a major part in our lives.  We awoke each morning and said prayers. All through the day we prayed - while we washed our hands, before we ate, in the afternoon, in the evening, and before bed.  I learned right from wrong.

I was a good student in school.  I could memorize easily and once I memorized something, I could retain it.  Throughout my life, my memory has served me.  As a child, I had a lot of "street smarts" in me - lots of common sense.  When you come from a large family and you are the middle child, you learn from the oldest one, and you try to take care of the youngest one.  I was also a girl scout.  I had a lot of friends as a child and always tried to make everyone around me feel liked and special.

And then my life changed forever. Adolf Hitler and the German army forced their way into Hungary. When Hitler occupied Hungary and the Jews were forced to wear the yellow star, I was embarrassed to go out on the street. 

In April 1944, I was 16 years old.  My family was deported to the Putnok Ghetto.  One month later, my mother, my 7-year-old brother, Victor, my 11-year-old sister, Valerie, and I were gathered in Diosgyor Ironworks and shipped to Auschwitz.  I watched my mother walk to the other side with my little brother and sister.  They were sent to the gas chamber immediately. 

In that instant, my life as I knew it, was over. I was alone. I was processed into the camp and was tattooed with A-17923.  Two weeks later, I was moved to Krakow Plaszow, the infamous camp in Schindler’s List.  After six weeks I was forced to return to Auschwitz.  At the end of September, I was transferred to Augsburg, Germany and remained there for seven months. 

In April 1945, the Nazis dragged us through Muhldorf on a death march to Caufering and finally to Feldafing, where I arrived ill with typhus but was liberated by the American army. 

After I recovered, I went back to Hungary. My father had survived, and we were reunited.  My sisters, Iren and Aranka, survived Bergen-Belsen and settled in Budapest.  My brother, Sandor, also survived.  He emigrated to Israel, where he died in the 1948 war.  My brother, Andor, died in Koszeg, a Hungarian forced labor camp. 

In 1948, I met a survivor named Erno Brown and married him. We then came to the United States (sponsored by Rabbi Alex Klein) where our two daughters, Nancy Linda and Sandra Jean, were born.  I have one granddaughter, Kimberly.

When we came to America, we tried to leave the past behind.  We did not speak about what had happened to us, despite the fact that I had lost 60 members of my family.  I went to work at the Los Angeles County Library and, later, at the Beverly Hills Public Library.  I raised my children and, like my parents, tried to shield them from the horrors of the world.  They would always ask why they did not have relatives (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) like their friends at schoo.

For 50 years, I silenced myself about my experience at Auschwitz. Then, Movie Director Steven Spielberg films "Schindler's List." I was approached by the Shoah Foundation which asked tointerview me about my past. I agreed to the interview and began sharing my story. I could feel the importance of not letting anyone forget what the Nazis had done during the Holocaust. 

When I retired after 30 years from the Beverly Hills Public Library, I began volunteering at Cedars Sinai Hospital. Then my real life's work began. I became an educator and speaker at the Museum of Tolerance in West Los Angeles.  Telling my story over and over again to adults and schoolchildren as they toured the museum furthered my commitment to not let people forget the Holocaust.  To date, I have given over 1,000 speeches and have participated in over 200 video conferences.  I have received over 3,000 letters from students, teachers, and others. 

For the past year, I have been working on a book with author, Thomas Fields-Meyer.  The tentative title for my book is Save one Life: A Survivor's Story.  In my book, I tell more of my complete story and how I survived in the concentration camps and how that experience shaped who I am.

In June 2006, I was asked to be the commencement speaker at El Camino College.  My speech was videotaped.  The transcript of my speech can be found HERE.  El Camino College has established the Eva Brown Institution which will provide funding for classes about Tolerance and the history of the Holocaust.