Mauthausen Camp Survivor Liberated Week After Birth Celebrates 75th Birthday
A woman who weighed just three pounds when she was born against the odds in the Mauthausen concentration camp at the close of World War II has marked her 75th birthday at her home in Cambridge, England.
Eva Nathan was born in the notorious Nazi camp in Austria on April 29, 1945 — one week before it was liberated by troops from the US Army’s 11th Armored Division.
Eva’s pregnant mother, Anka, had been deported with her husband, Bernd, to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, in October 1944. Deeming Anka fit to work and not realizing she was pregnant, she was sent to work in a munitions factory in Germany for six months as a slave laborer.
As the Germans retreated in the face of the final Allied advance in 1945, Anka and her fellow-prisoners were transferred to Mauthausen. When Anka realized where she was, her shock caused her waters to break and she gave birth to Eva without any assistance as she lay on a cart.
According to the Holocaust Educational Trust, “by this stage, Anka weighed about 5 stone — she had the appearance of a scarcely living pregnant skeleton. And Eva weighed about 3lbs. If the camp’s gas chambers hadn’t been blown up on 28th April 1945 and the Americans hadn’t liberated Mauthausen just days after Eva’s birth, neither mother or child would have survived.”
Reflecting on her mother’s extraordinary determination to survive, Eva highlighted the arrival in Mauthausen of the American liberators on May 5.
“My mother always said I had two birthdays,” Eva said in an interview. “‘The day I was born and the day I was ‘reborn’ thanks to the Allies. She had no idea how we both survived.”