Holocaust survivor Fritzie Fritzshall remembers aunt who saved her from Auschwitz gas chamber

An ABC7 Eyewitness News Exclusive
There are many women who Fritzie Fritzshall credits with helping her survive the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust but it was her Aunt Bella who saved her from the gas chamber.

Fritzshall, who is approaching her 90th birthday, traveled back to Auschwitz for what is likely her last visit to the camp where she was kept prisoner. She was joined by her friend Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich and ABC7's Alan Krashesky.

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Returning to the camp is a journey of will for Fritzshall, who is Jewish. She didn't want to come back to this place of death and despair where Nazis sent her at age 13, but she returned for a greater purpose.

"It's a story that we must remember," she said. "I'm doing this for my family, for my brothers, for my mother and for the 6 million others."

RELATED: Holocaust Survivor Fritzie Fritzshall: 'I wouldn't be here today' without women who saved her life at Auschwitz

And on that day she was thinking of one relative she found among the prisoners some 75 years ago: her Aunt Bella, the woman who saved her life.

"She was the one that sold her daily rations to be able to get me onto one of these bunk beds that she slept in," Fritzshall recalled. "She's the one that said 'We just need to live through the night.' I can hear her whispering 'Tomorrow will be better, you'll see.' It was her courage that helped me live. She did not survive, but she gave me courage and hope to survive."

But she did more than that; she created a commotion as Fritzshall was led to the gas chamber, truly saving her life.

"I was in the gas chambers, literally walking to the gas chambers, when I was pulled out," she said. "I was at the end of the line and six of us were pulled out and to slave labor factory - but it was because of her that I was at the end of the line."

"Evil may have seemed to triumph a great deal here, but there were also wonderful acts of love and kindness and goodness that saved people like Fritzie and so many others," Cardinal Cupich said.

Fritzshall returned to Auschwitz to keep her promise to tell the story of voices that were silenced.

"This is a story, it's a human story, this isn't a story that I've made up, this is my life story and this is the life of the millions and millions that lived at this camp," she said.

Fritzshall is currently the president of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie.

Sunday at 10:30 p.m., ABC7 presents a special half hour presentation, "Return to Auschwitz: A Survivor's Story."
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