NORTH WALES Ester Auerbach remembers being shoved into a railroad car without food and water and being taken away from the Jewish ghetto in Tarnapole, Poland.
A mere girl of 15 at the time, she recalls the train stopping at Auschwitz, and, along with the others who had survived the hot containers, that she was shown to pig troughs filled with water.
Auerbach said she will never forget the horrors of the Holocaust. And she never wants anyone else to forget them, either.
"I wanted children because Hitler killed my whole family," said Auerbach, who would give birth to four. "I want people to remember that it was a terrible Holocaust."
These days, the women are among 12 Holocaust survivors who live in the Abramson Center for Jewish Life in North Wales, Montgomery County. On Monday, the center will hold a Holocaust Memorial Day service.
Auerbach and Leah Starkman, another Abramson resident, went on to tell their stories in elementary schools after they came to the United States - Auerbach in 1950, Starkman in 1953.
Starkman, now 84, was separated from her parents one night and taken to work at a camp in Lyon, France. She would never see her mother again, except in the faded photograph on her wall in her bedroom.
"How can you forget when they pull your mother away from your arms?" she said.
Starkman was cared for and hidden by gentiles during the war, she said. She moved around so much, she doesn't remember where exactly in France she was living.
She does remember that at some point she heard that "the shoemaker" was alive.
"My father was a shoemaker," Starkman said. She came to learn that he was living in Belgium. She used money her mother had sewn into her shirt to get to Belgium, where she saw her father, walking with a characteristic bounce in his step.
"It was so wonderful, and at the same time it hurt so bad," Starkman said. She had thought she would never see him again.
"When I heard my father's voice," she said, "it was like a miracle."
The Holocaust continues to haunt Starkman and Auerbach, now 90, who was ultimately freed from Auschwitz by the Allied liberators.
"Some of them are trapped in memories of some of the most difficult times in their lives," said Carol A. Irvine, president and chief executive officer of the Abramson Center. "They view it as their mission to continue to educate."
Many Holocaust survivors don't want to talk about it, said Marcy Shoemaker, director of marketing at Abramson.
For what they have been through, the women are happy with the lives they built.
"I'm so blessed I have a big family," Auerbach said. "I'm very proud of my family."
Auerbach has one story that she likes to tell to illustrate her pride: On a recent trip to Atlantic City with her family, she encountered Donald Trump. Auerbach said she felt compelled to tell him about the true wealth that she drew from family.
"I told him," she recalled, " 'I'm a refugee. I came from Germany, but I'm richer than you.' "