Holocaust surivor in Winter Park recounts how her family escaped Nazis

Eva London Ritt said she hopes today’s generation cultivates more kindness

Central Florida Holocaust survivor recalls how her family escaped from Nazis
Central Florida Holocaust survivor recalls how her family escaped from Nazis

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Every Jan. 27th the world honors and remembers the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism.

Eva London Ritt, 88, a Holocaust survivor, spoke with News 6 from her Winter Park home.

Seventy-six years have passed since the day the largest and most notorious concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by Soviet troops.

“As I do almost every day, I think of my aunts and uncles who were murdered in Auschwitz,” London Ritt said via zoom. “My father had two sisters and a brother-in-law and my mother had one sister with her husband.”

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London’s family members were among millions of Jewish victims killed under Adolf Hitler’s leadership. She said they were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Nazi-occupied Poland--the deadliest of six extermination camps during World War II where 1.1 million Jewish victims died.

She was a 5-year-old girl during the Night of Broken Glass, a riot against Jewish victims on Nov. 9, 1938.

“I do remember that at Kristallnacht when they burnt the synagogues, destroyed Jewish businesses, and arrested men and boys. I remember my mother running to the school where my brother attended because the Synagogue next to it was burning and they arrested all the teachers,” she recalled, adding her family left Germany when the situation worsened.

“[A] very short time after we left Hamburg, where I was born, the roundup of Jews began,” she said.

Eva was the youngest of three. In 1940, when she was 7, her family was able to get on a train from Germany to Italy, but at the border, they were almost sent back.

“The German police got on and told my father his papers weren’t in order, he has to get off the train--of course that would’ve meant all of us, and he said my papers are in order and the Italian military was standing right there and they said to the Germans, ‘We’ll take care of it’ so, the Italians saved our lives,” she recalled.

A few days after arriving in Genoa, Italy, the London family sailed to America. Eva said they boarded the last American ship to leave Italy.

The ship eventually reached New York.

“It was very exciting because everybody on the ship was excited and we weren’t seasick anymore,” she said from the moment they saw the Statue of Liberty.

Five years after she escaped Germany, the war ended. Eva said she hopes today’s generation cultivates more kindness.

“Learn the history, don’t repeat it; don’t--you know, prejudice, there’s no room for prejudice. Everybody is a human being, and that kindness goes a long way, and it doesn’t take much effort.”

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