I am grateful to the Kaliver Rebbetzin for sharing her story with me.

It was the middle of January. World War II was coming to an end. I had lost everything and I was now holding onto my last vestiges of strength. The British and American armies were approaching the concentration camps from the west; the Russian troops were advancing from the east. The Germans were frazzled. Truth and justice were closing in on them and they felt trapped. They didn't want us, the witnesses of the horrific atrocities they had perpetuated, to be around to tell the story.

So they devised a new form of cruelty: the infamous death march. We were a group of six thousand women and girls driven out through the gates of Auschwitz, Poland. Weak, ill, broken in body and spirit, survivors of brutality, forced labor, illness, and starvation. Now the Nazis were yanking us, like dogs tied to chains, to Bergen-Belsen, Germany.

The roads were icy. We wore only the thin-striped prisoners' garb. We shivered in the cold, like laundry flapping in the wind. But the S.S. men pursued us at gunpoint, unrelentingly, without granting us even a morsel of bread.

It was one o'clock in the morning, when the Germans finally stopped the gruelling march for the day; We were weak, ill, broken in body and spirit, survivors of brutality, forced labor, illness, and starvation. not because they cared about us, but because they themselves were exhausted and wanted to rest. Under the open skies, shivering, on the ice-covered ground, we allowed blessed sleep to soothe our ravenous bodies until morning dawned. Then, without any prelude or preamble, they roused us from our slumber, and drove us on as we stumbled over our weakened legs, bleary-eyed and ever hungry with nothing else but the powerful will to live.

Even the animals were more fortunate than we. They received food — food that in our eyes was fit for kings. They received warm shelter, although, admittedly, sometimes we would be lucky enough to spend the night with them in a stable or a pigsty. For six, agonizing weeks we were driven mercilessly. The gendarmes, walked on one side of the unpaved road, while we trudged on the other side.

I remember one time when we arrived at an abandoned concentration camp. Some of the girls prowled in the kitchen and found a treasure worth more than precious diamonds: potatoes cooked in their peels. Euphoria traveled like wildfire, hunger cried out in anticipation, and many managed to swoop down upon those potatoes before the Germans arrived and barred the rest of us from entering the kitchen.

I can vividly recall the two potatoes I had managed to procure that night. I was so proud. This time it would be I who had succeeded in bringing some food to my two nieces instead of the other way around. Suddenly, out of nowhere, two large hands appeared and snatched them right out of my hands. That night, it was sleep, once again, that helped me overcome my hunger pangs.

The next morning we were on the move again. My shoes that I had brought from home had long since been tattered and discarded. With the wooden clogs the Germans had provided us, it was impossible to walk in the snow. So with nothing but woolen socks on my feet, I marched along the snowy roads.

Alongside me walked my sister Rivkale's two daughters. Surale was eighteen — only a year younger than I — and Chayale, seventeen. We were famished, frostbitten and close to despair.

I could not walk anymore.

The frosty Polish winter, the terrible cold, the exhausting six-week march, were too much to bear. I felt that I simply could not place one foot in front of the other. All I wanted was to sit down and give up.

Gradually, I started lagging behind my nieces. Soon I was far away from the suffering column that was steadfastly moving further along.

Eventually, I sat down on a stone, forlorn and alone, in a frightening world. Even fear could no longer prod me on. Aside for some handfuls of snow, I had not eaten for days.

Suddenly, from the distance, I could make out two figures pressing their way back through the masses of inmates moving forward. As they came into view, I noticed that they were my own two nieces desperately attempting to emerge from the rows of six-thousand skeletal people.

"Auntie," Surale panted as she reached me. "You must not stay here."

"Please let me be."

"No. No!" she pleaded. You must come with us."

"My dear nieces, I am so sorry, I just cannot go on."

"But they will shoot you," Chayale cried, her charcoal eyes burning with fear. "Please don't do this to us."

I stared at them blankly. I didn't know from where to draw the strength to continue.

Chayale crouched low. "A miracle occurred," she whispered into my ear. "It was a gendarme himself who told me to run and get you. He said to us, 'Your sister remained sitting on a rock. If you do not get her now, I will shoot.'"

They didn't dally too long. They weren't going to let my apathy get in their way. Surale took hold of one arm, Chayale grasped my other arm, and they literally dragged me along.

After hundreds of kilometers, the S.S. men finally packed us into open wagons. These wagons were originally designed for cattle. We were squeezed together like sardines, one human pressing against the other. There was not an inch of space to move.

Quite unexpectedly, the S.S. guards tossed to each of us what seemed to be a black brick. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was a small piece of bread, black and hard. I savored each crumb. The taste was heavenly, and I could never know when this would happen again.

Suddenly one woman declared, "Make room for me!"

From her appearance and the way she spoke, it was clear to me that her mind could not take this anymore and she had apparently gone mad.

"Make room for me," she insisted. "I must go to sleep."

Make room for her? Where? How? What did she mean? My mind raced, trying to make sense of what the woman was saying. Suddenly, she grabbed my hand and dug into it with her teeth. Then she bit the hand of the women crammed to my right. I reeled in pain and nearly fainted. I saw stars and my head began to spin from the agony. But the poor woman was oblivious to all. She simply lay down at our feet. Instinctively I jumped, terrified that my foot would come next. But there was nowhere to escape.

My hand swelled up to the size of a football. In this manner I continued the horrific journey. The wound turned black and red and there was nothing I could do. Two days later, the woman to my right succumbed to blood poisoning and died. As for myself, I reckoned it was only a matter of a day or two. The pain was simply unbearable.

Five days later we arrived at Bergen-Belsen. I was still alive. This was the end of February 1945. After six harrowing weeks of marching, we had unbelievably reached our destination. From the original six thousand inmates who had left Auschwitz, four hundred girls entered the gates of Bergen-Belsen.

Even now on our arrival, no one deemed it necessary to grant us a bit of food or a sip of water.

I lay on the muddy, asphalt floor in a stupor. My red, swollen feet were frostbitten, numb, and bruised. My hand throbbed and ached. I was hanging on to a thin thread of life.

Suddenly the Blockelteste entered with a bucket filled with black coffee. I lay on the muddy, asphalt floor in a stupor, frostbitten, numb, and bruised. I was hanging on to a thin thread of life. A line of starving inmates formed. We all had a small metal cup attached to a thin rope around our bodies, and it was this cup that we held in front of us, waiting with bated breath for it to be filled.

Somehow I managed to get myself in line. I stood listlessly. I did not have the stamina to count the people in front of me. The cup I held out vibrated in my hands. My turn came and I gazed at the life-sustaining liquid being poured into my cup. I felt so weak. I was tottering from the fever and intense pain. I placed the cup close to my quivering lips.

Suddenly the clouds parted in my befuddled brain and a flash of clarity occurred to me.

Master of the Universe, I thought to myself. What am I doing now? So, I will drink one more little bit of black coffee in my life! Is this all there is to it? Is this the last thing I will do before I meet my Creator? "Master of the Universe," I cried silently. "Let me do one more mitzvah. Let me have the opportunity to sanctify Your name one last time."

Like a shadow, I hobbled over to the open window. I tried to steady my quaking body. I placed the cup of coffee in my left hand and I washed my right hand, then I switched to wash my left hand.

Negel vasser. How long haven't I washed my hands with the ritual washing? Father in Heaven, I want to arrive home to You as pure and untainted as You sent me down here.

I stared at my empty cup. There was not a single drop of liquid left.

I cannot explain to you what happened next. All of a sudden I felt a life-giving energy surging through my pain-wracked body. I felt revitalized, I felt invigorated.

I knew right there, standing by the open window, blinking into my bare cup, that I had received a new lease on life. From that moment on, the swelling on my hand went down, the redness diminished. There was not a doctor in sight. Without water to wash the ugly gash, without antibiotics, without any ointment, my wound disappeared.

A small, barely visible scar remained. A silent testimony — a poignant reminder – to something that is beyond the realm of natural...