Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Courage of Ravensbruck Prisoner #2675

CECELIA REXIN was a 19-year-old student living the "good life" in Koenigsberg, Germany in 1937 when she noticed some of her Jewish friends had disappeared. She soon discovered the awful truth that Jews from all over Germany were vanishing into the Nazi-created oblivion.
Angered by such injustice, she joined an underground movement which hid Jews and provided passports for them to flee the country. However, Rexin was arrested as a political dissident the same year.
Her life became a hell, as she was shuttled off to a number of German concentration camps, including Ravensbruck, located north of Berlin.
At Ravensbruck, where more than 90,000 perished, Rexin's barracks was next to one which housed Jews.
"I was glad to be near them and soon I had many friends there," Rexin once recalled.
Assigned to dispensary duty, she paid dearly for befriending a young Jewish girl whose family had been killed in the war.
The German authorities intended to ship the girl to Auschwitz, so Rexin hid her in the crawl space beneath the barracks. "I stole food and blankets for her. The girl became very attached to me. She called me 'Mama.'"
When the girl was discovered, Rexin was ordered flogged by her fellow inmates. However, the girl survived and they met after the war.
In December, 1944, Rexin was caught trying to smuggle bread and medicine to her Jewish friends in the adjacent barracks. She was punished by being put in a pitch-black, unheated 3 by 5-foot concrete box for eight weeks, barely surviving on water and food scraps.
Wearing only a thin dress and a pair of wooden shoes, Rexin developed pneumonia after being deprived of food for five days.
That when she prayed: "It's OK, God, if You want me to die and be with You. But I've been here more than seven years and I don't want to die now. Please let me live."
Her prayers were answered.
An hour later, a Swedish Red Cross worker unlocked her cell door.
"It was a miracle," Rexin said. "In my darkness, my Heavenly Father heard my prayer and reached down to me."
She had emerged as an 80-pound physical wreck.
Rexin -- Ravensbruck prisoner #2675 -- had witnessed unbelievable atrocities, including seeing hundreds being dragged off to the gas chambers and ovens.
One incident was forever locked in her memory. A German guard picked up two children and bashed their heads together, killing them. He dropped the lifeless pair and started laughing while walking away.
After the war, while working for an agency which identified former Nazis, Rexin settled in Bavaria, married and had a child. Her testimony helped convict several concentration camp officials.
In 1974, she joined her daughter, Nancy Evans, in the U.S. and began speaking to schools in Indiana about the Holocaust.
In 1988, both Rexin and Evans received Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah.
Then in 1994, she was able to realize her life-long dream of praying the Mourner's Kaddish at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall for Jewish women she had met in a Nazi concentration camp.
Two years later, she was diagnosed with cencer and was given a short time to live. However, her dying request was that she become a U.S. citizen, which she did.
In May 1997 she died of cancer at the age of 79 a true heroine during one of the most dark periods in human history and as I wrote shortly after her death, her efforts certainly rank with other heroines such as Corrie Ten Boom, whom she met at Auschwitz. Also at that time, I learned a tree would be planted on the avenue of "Righteous Gentiles" in Jerusalem's Yad Vashem.
While this writer as well as others have attempted to detail her life story, it was Cecelia Rexin's own words which have had the greatest impact.
In June 1998, her autobiography, 'Testament To Courage: The Concentration Camp Diary (1940-1945) of a Courageous German Woman Who Risked Her Life To Save Others, was published.
On Thursday as a siren wailed in Israel and the world paused in memory of six million Jews, who perished in the Holocaust, I also remembered Cecelia Rexin and her unbelievable courage.


Blogger godspet said...

Thank you for honoring my grandmother.

April 20, 2012 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger David Severy said...

Her's is a life worth imitating.

October 20, 2015 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Shashi Ishai said...

I have been her daughter, Nancy's, fb friend, for about a little over a year. Little did I realize, from what a legacy she comes from...may G-b bless Nancy, her living family, and her blessed, Heaven sent mother, a real living Angel. Shashi Ishai

April 18, 2018 at 12:28 AM  

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