Born in the Concentration Camp

Szymon (Simon) Herling was born on 23 March 1945 in the HASAG-Leipzig subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. The German occupiers had deported his parents Fela and Shmuel (Sam) Herling from their hometown near Kielce (Poland) to a camp in 1942.

The couple was separated in mid-1944. Shmuel was transferred to the Schlieben subcamp, Fela to Leipzig. Before they parted, Fela – fearing she would never see him again – told her husband she was pregnant.

In Leipzig, Fela wore oversize clothing to hide her steadily growing belly. Like all the other women, she had to perform extremely heavy labour and suffered from hunger. In the eighth month, when the SS threatened to punish her fellow inmates, Fela admitted her pregnancy. She was scheduled for transport away from the camp, but that plan was thwarted by the approaching front.

In mid-April, Fela and her three-week-old son were liberated by the Americans. Both were severely undernourished. They were reunited with Shmuel in May.

(Anett Dremel)



Rivka Schiller, “Miracle Birth in a Concentration Camp” (http://www.rivkasyiddish.com/blog/pregnancy-in-auschwitz, accessed 22 February 2021).

Anja Kruse and Sebastian Schönemann, “Simon Herling: Jüngster Überlebender des Konzentrationslagers Buchenwald besucht die Gedenkstätte für Zwangsarbeit Leipzig und das ehemalige KZ-Außenlager ʻHASAG Leipzigʼ”, Newsletter des Fördervereins “Dr. Margarete Blank”, December 2016, pp. 11–12.