Ferderber-Salz, Bertha

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Nationality: American (originally Austrian: immigrated to the United States after World War II). Born: Bertha Frost, Kolbuszowa, 1902. Family: Married 1) first husband in 1929 (died), two daughters; 2) David Salz in 1948. Career: Book-keeper, ca. 1920s. Prisoner, concentration camps, World War II. Contributor to Yiddish periodicals; lecturer on the Holocaust; volunteer, Center for Holocaust Studies. Award: Medal, Center for Holocaust Studies, 1985.



Un di zun hot geshaynt. 1965; as And the Sun Kept Shining, 1980.

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Bertha Ferderber-(actually Verderber) Salz was born Bertha Frost in 1902 in the small Galician town Kolbuszowa. During World War I her family moved to Austria where she learned German, a skill that proved useful during the Holocaust. At age 16 Ferderber-Salz moved to Kraków to attend a high school with a business focus. She worked as a bookkeeper until her marriage in 1929. Following the Nazi occupation of Poland, Ferderber-Salz first hid out in the country with her children and only joined her husband in the Kraków ghetto after securing a hiding place for her young daughters with a Polish woman. From the ghetto Ferderber-Salz was moved to various concentration camps: first Plaszow, where her husband was sentenced to death because of his poor health, then Auschwitz, and finally Bergen-Belsen. After the camp's liberation by the British troops, Ferderber-Salz had to battle to regain guardianship of her children as well as of her two surviving nephews. Ensuing her futile search for more surviving members of her once large family, Ferderber-Salz and her two daughters immigrated to the United States, making their home in New York City. In 1948 she married David Salz, a childhood friend who had immigrated to the United States in 1916. Ferderber-Salz lectured tirelessly about the Holocaust and its legacy at various schools, primarily at Brooklyn College. She also volunteered at the Center for Holocaust Studies, translating the testimonies of Holocaust survivors into English. In 1985 the center awarded her a medal for her efforts.

According to her daughter, Rachel Garfunkel, Ferderber-Salz's literary career arose from necessity. Still ailing as a result from her incarceration in the camps, she was not able to work immediately after her arrival in the United States. In order to support herself and her two daughters, she began to submit autobiographical as well as fictional stories to various Yiddish language newspapers and magazines. In 1965 Menorah Publishing in Tel Aviv published her autobiographical novel And the Sun Kept Shining in the original Yiddish. It was subsequently translated into Hebrew and because of its success turned into a play. In 1980 the English translation of the work was published in the United States.

And the Sun Kept Shinin g—the title refers to the world's indifference to the suffering of the Jewish people at the hand of the Nazis—places Ferderber-Salz's personal experiences in the larger context of the persecution of the Polish Jewish population. Clearly meant as a testimony to the victims of the Holocaust, the work celebrates their courage in the face of unspeakable suffering and their refusal to abandon their faith or human dignity that ultimately allows them to triumph over their dehumanized torturers. Ferderber-Salz tells her story in a factual and straightforward manner that emphasizes content over formal or aesthetic concerns. The contrast between the enormity of the events and the restrained way in which they are narrated as well as Ferderber-Salz's own courage and resilience shown throughout the story rank the book among the most successful personal narratives of a Holocaust survivor.

—Helga Schreckenberger

See the essay on And the Sun Kept Shining.

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