Holocaust survivor Noemi Ban visits CMR: Survivor shares message in hopes that it will be carried into the next generation


Josh Philyaw

Every time 89-year-old Noemi Ban thinks about her past she can smell the stench of the cattle cars that transferred her to Auschwitz.

Remembering the vivid images from her past, Ban, a Hungarian Jew and Holocaust survivor, shared her testimony of her “darkest hours” with students and faculty on Feb. 10.

Ban, who was born in Hungary in 1922, visited CMR twice, once on Oct. 11, 2010, and Feb. 10 to talk about the Holocaust and how it impacted her. She said she has three reasons for talking about the darkest moments of her life.

She said she hopes that students would see what prejudice, bigotry, and hate did. She has also heard people say that the Holocaust never happened,  and she is honoring her family by speaking of their “terrible fate.”

She said she would like to meet the people who argue that the Holocaust never happened.

“I would like to see those people eye to eye — I’ve been there, I suffered there –Nobody should tell me it didn’t happen. I‘m a witness and will be until I die,” Ban said.

When Hitler gained power in Germany, Ban said her father was afraid and concerned.

On March 19 1944, Hungary was invaded, and the Nazis established rules for the Jewish population.

“We had to wear the Star of David,” Ban said. “The first time I stepped outside I felt embarrassed; people looked at me differently.”

“We were prisoners in our own home, and we didn’t know what would come next,” Ban said.

Her father, 48, was ordered to a labor camp, and her parents, who had been married for 25 years, never saw one another again.

 “We had a beautiful warm family, and then it was gone,” she said.

Not long after that, the Nazis came for Noemi and the rest of her family. They traveled for eight days to Auschwitz.

“We had no idea what Auschwitz meant. We were happy that the doors opened and we got fresh air,” Ban said. At Auschwitz, she was separated from her family. 

Her mother, grandmother, and two siblings went to the left and Ban was forced to the right.

“(My mom’s) eyes told me, ‘Noemi, I love you take care of yourself.’ That was the last time I saw them,” she said.

She was later moved to the Buchenwald, another concentration camp, where she was one of 25 Jewish girls selected to work.

Her job was making German bombs, but they outsmarted the Nazis by making bombs that didn’t explode, she said.