Sperling said her family was rapidly evicted out of their home, which was custom-built by her father, an architect, and put into the ghetto. Although Sperling and the other members of the Jewish community in her town remained optimistic, she said they soon began to realize the true extent of the Nazi’s plans.
“You did not realize who was your friend and who was your enemy,” Sperling recalled.
She recounted the story of her temporary escape from the ghetto to wish her closest childhood friend a happy birthday. Once she was able to get though, she was called racial names.
“Something dreadful happened to my soul that night,” she said.
In the ghetto, according to Sperling, the promise was as long as one could work he or she would be safe. She said food was given to all the residents, but it was usually not enough, and people began to quickly die of hunger and disease.
Like many other Jewish families, Sperling, her little brother, and her parents were eventually deported from the ghetto and scattered into death and prison camps. She and her family were put through a process to decide who lived and who did not. The weak were taken off to the left and told that they needed a shower, which turned out to be a gas chamber, and the strong were taken to the right.
“We were also ordered to take off our clothes and get into the shower, but it was a real shower,” Sperling said.
The strong were then each given a flannel nightgown, a jacket and a metal plate to eat off of.
“The jacket had on it what you had become —a number,” Sperling said.
Sperling was placed into Ravensbrück, which was a “transition camp,” where Jews were subjected to repetitive and demeaning manual labor in order to break their spirits.