April 30, 1945: 3,000 women are finally liberated from Ravensbruck Women’s Death Camp by the Russian army. A few days earlier (April 27-28) all able bodied women were forced on a death march (for many this was their 2nd march). For survivors of the Auschwitz death march in January coming to Ravensbruck had been exacerbated by lack of food, shelter and sanitary conditions. Some of the women were left outside in makeshift tents. Overcrowding lead to increased exterminations, especially of Jewish women.
For Rena and her sister Danka (#1716 and #2779 in Auschwitz) being transported out of Ravensbruck a few days after they arrived from Auschwitz may have saved their lives. The camp of Neustadt Glewe was a satellite camp of Ravensbruck and the notorious Margot Drexler (SS from Auschwitz) was its Wardress but Neustadt Glewe was not a “death” camp. Women died of starvation, beatings, illness but there was no gas chamber, which for women arriving from Auschwitz saw as a huge relief.
The war was going to end in a few days. Male prisoners across the road shouted “the Americans are coming!” to Rena and her sister, as they headed out to their work detail. “Freedom Soon!” For some “soon” would not be soon enough. For Rena and her sister “soon” was in the knick of time.