By Rebecca Granet
1010 WINS Reporter
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It took Holocaust survivor Helen Terris 50 years to talk about the unspeakable horrors that destroyed her childhood, but she endures the pain of recounting those harrowing days.
She feels there’s no choice.
“The Holocaust took place [over] 70 years ago and a great many of the survivors are gone, and many other’s memories are no longer viable, so it is now up to us, the children survivors, to keep the story alive, so that it is not forgotten and never, ever repeated,” she said.
In June of 1941, Terris was six years old, living in what was then, Lida, Poland. When German soldiers invaded, all of the approximately 12,000 Jewish people in the area were put into a ghetto. Terris says there was terrible overcrowding, starvation, and widespread disease. The ghetto was surrounded by barbed wire and soldiers with guns guarded the area.
“There was a feeling of disbelief that they were really after us, because we were good, law-abiding citizens,” the 79-year-old said.
An only child, Terris saw trucks periodically come into the ghetto to round people up. Terror would ripple through the ghetto when they heard the trucks roaring down the road. She says those picked up were never seen or heard from again. The pain of those roundups tore through her heart the day she saw her father taken away in one of the trucks.
“It was a very traumatic thing because we knew once he was gone that we would never see him again,” she said.
They never did.
Terris and her mother continued to live in the shadow of death, even enduring a shooting in the ghetto. Although there was no survival plan, she remembers her mother would repeat one piece of advice.