On October 4, 1944, Ida Steinberg and her six-year-old son Amos arrived at Auschwitz. They had come to the extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland on a rail transport from Theresienstadt, the concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.
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Following the ‘selektion’ – the sorting of arrivals at Auschwitz into those who were to be immediately murdered and those who would be worked to death instead – both were sent to the gas chambers and killed. Ludwig, Ida’s husband and Amos’s father, arrived at Auschwitz on another transport. He survived the camp, started a new family and moved to Israel, where he now goes by Yehuda.
Three-quarters of a century have passed since his wife and son were murdered. Last week, his family received unexpected news when the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum reported that it had discovered the name of Amos Steinberg, Yehuda's son, inscribed inside the shoe of a victim that had been removed from exhibition for preservation work in a lab. The museum said it had likely been put there by his mother.
After the war, Yehuda married another Holocaust survivor and began raising a family with her in Prague. They moved to Israel in 1949, changing their last name to Shinan. They have two children: Leah Shinan is an urban planner and Prof. Avigdor Shinan is a scholar of Judaism.
This week, they opened the family photo albums to find three pictures of the family their father had before they were born. In one, Amos is wearing a kippa, the traditional Jewish skullcap. In another, the father cradles his son with an affectionate gaze. In the third picture, the whole family is present, with Amos holding a doll.
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Amos would have turned 82 last month. His half-sister Leah, hoping that he had somehow survived, searched for him for years. His father has filled a Page of Testimony at the Yad Vashem memorial museum in Jerusalem, a form the museum uses to document Holocaust victims. In the line asking the relationship with the victims, Yehuda wrote, “husband and father.” In the line for place and cause of death: “Auschwitz, gas chambers.”