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August 18, 2016 3:08 pm

Melbourne Couple Waits for 50th Anniversary to Tell Children They Fell in Love at Nazi Concentration Camp

avatar by Shiryn Solny

Email a copy of "Melbourne Couple Waits for 50th Anniversary to Tell Children They Fell in Love at Nazi Concentration Camp" to a friend
Sigi and Hanna Siegreich. Photo: Facebook.

Sigi and Hanna Siegreich. Photo: Facebook.

A couple in Melbourne, Australia didn’t tell their family that they met and fell in love at a Nazi concentration camp until the day of their 50th wedding anniversary, the UK’s Daily Mail reported on Thursday.

According to the report, Sigi and Hanka Siegreich, 92 and 91 respectively, had kept their personal story a secret from their children.

“We grew up surrounded by so much love and we knew they had met in the war but we were definitely surprised by the circumstances,” said Evelyne, the couple’s eldest daughter. “We knew they had some kind of dark secret somewhere, we saw how much they loved us and each other but knew it was strange that we didn’t have grandparents, it was just the four of us. We asked them why we didn’t have other [family members] but they just never wanted to talk about it and would just say they were lost in the war.”

Sigi and Hanka first met on New Year’s Eve in 1944, inside the Czestochowa concentration camp in Poland. Men and women were typically banned from speaking at the camp, but that night, the guards allowed them to spend time together. Sigi recalled looking like a “skeleton” after years of incarceration in the camp, but he said that when he first saw his future wife, “I was struck by lightning. I just knew right then that she was the one. I still get the same feeling when I look at her now. Always, she is beautiful.”

Sigi kissed Hanka on the cheek before they parted ways that night. Though they had spent less than two hours together, they were married 17 days later, mere hours after the camp was liberated by the Red Army. They then moved to Israel, and in 1971 immigrated to Australia with their two daughters.

Evelyne said the horrors of the Holocaust still haunt her parents, who lost hundreds of relatives in World War II, including their own mothers and fathers. She recounted, “Mum still cries in her sleep every night — and dad always has terrible nightmares. He was gifted with a photographic memory but it is a blessing and a curse because he can remember the horrors so clearly.”

She added that her parents maintain a strong love for each other even after all these years. She told the Daily Mail, “He still looks at mum the same way. He will ring me in the morning and say, ‘Look at your mum, she is so beautiful, there is not a drop of makeup on her skin and look how beautiful she is.'”

At their 50th wedding anniversary celebration, Sigi gave a speech in which he spoke of the first time he saw Hanka’s “beautiful brown eyes peering from the top of a bunk.” He said he and his wife, who are now great grandparents, have lived life together as one being. Sigi called Hanka, “a part of my makeup, like my arm she will always be a part of me.”

The couple plan to be buried side-by-side when they die, in plots marked with a message for their lost family members, according to the Daily Mail. The message welcomes the souls of those “exterminated” in the Holocaust to “rest with them.”

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  • Jeanne Radley

    Such a beautiful, poignant story of deep, abiding love and devotion, even amongst the horror of that time in history. A handsome couple who radiate love. I will purchase the book for certain.

  • Wouldn’t it be something if someone in their lives, get down their life story from beginning to end with all the details – something to leave behind to a World that has almost forgotten what these people and all the rest went through and why. Their story is so beautiful that even through the horror, they found love and it would be a lesson for us all in such a story. We are losing those that are left and there are too many who refuse to even accept the Holocaust and all that it entailed.. Maybe this story, with all the sadness and reality would be the right one because it ends in love – which, in the end, is what we are all looking for…

    • Aviva Sztrajt

      Sigi has written his memoires
      The book ‘The Thirty Six’ was published by Random House under their Vintage Label.

  • Vola Regini

    What a beautiful love story. I would like to get a copy of his book. Is it available through Amazon?

    • chaya Youngworth

      Such a beautiful story. Your parents are fortunate to be together for so many years. My parents were also survivors.They were also together for 50 years. But unfortunately my father had Alzheimer’s and didn’t partake in the celebration. Then he died shortly after. But B’H we are celebrating her 90th this weekend. Together with her 3 children, 13 grandchildren and 25 great grand children. Such a legacy. B”h

  • Eileen Ross

    Like a beautiful flower growing out of the dry cracked earth, something so beautiful can grow and persevere. What a wonderful couple.

  • God bless this couple and their family. Love really did conquer all here with this beautiful couple. I will indeed buy Sigi’s book.

  • Lois and Henry Schwartz

    Thank you for sharing this
    remarkable story.
    Lois Schwartz Boca Raton, Fl

    We are married 52 years, and are
    very much in love.

  • Jil Rod

    A remarkable love story and they both look amazing and to keep their secret for so many years is amazing. I would love to keep their book, I am sure it is very special!

  • Evelyne Pipersberg

    Sigi’s and hanka’s love story is documented in a book that Sigi has written,
    ‘THE THIRTY SIX’ by Siegmund Siegreich published by Random House
    His book has been nominated for the Prime Ministers award for history as well as several others. This book is packed with miracles ,extreme danger heroic sabotage and a beautiful angel that saved his life,
    This book was also used as an evidensual exhibit at a trial of a Nazi war criminal in Germany.