Eva Wartnik was born in Satu Mare, a Romanian city that fell under Hungarian rule during World War II. When Nazi Germany invaded Hungary in 1944, anti-Jewish laws proliferated and Eva was no longer allowed to attend public school. Once Eva’s parents started to hear rumors from Jews who had escaped Poland, they obtained false identification papers and escape to the Romanian border. However, as Eva and her sisters were nearing the border, an informer turned them in and they were immediately arrested.
Eva was separated from her family and deported to the city’s Ghetto by herself. Shortly thereafter she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Upon her arrival, a Polish inmate told her to not tell anyone that she was twelve, and to pose as a sixteen-year-old. After spending several weeks at Auschwitz, Eva was transported to the Zittau Concentration Camp where she worked at an airplane-manufacturing factory for the German military. After she was liberated by Russian troops in 1945, Eva traveled by train to her hometown and discovered that her home had been destroyed. Every day, she went to the train station waiting for her family to return. She eventually learned that her parents and sisters had perished in Auschwitz. While waiting for her visa in a displaced persons camp in Italy, Eva married Leon Preisler, another Hungarian Survivor. They moved to Los Angeles where they had two sons. She worked to design baby-strollers, and also became an accomplished sculptor.
Surviving the Holocaust: Stories of Life
An ongoing project of KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles
and Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in Pan Pacific Park