After they practically grew up in labor camps during the persecution of Jews in the Second World War, Sigi and Hanka Siegreich were physically and mentally exhausted when they met in the Polish camp Czestochowa. This couple says that, after 70 years of living together, they still feel the butterflies.
“I lost myself when I saw her. My world turned upside down when I was her beautiful eyes and I hears the bells at that moment,” said the 93-year-old Sigi.
Sigi was not much interested in women, given that he was exhausted, starved and looked like a skeleton. However, when he saw Hanka, he approached her without thinking and started a conversation.
They met on New Year’s Eve in 1944, 18 days before the liberation of the camp, and before they said goodbye to each other that night Sigi kissed her on the cheek.
“I remember that first kiss. He was very gentle, when everyone else in the camp was horrible,” said Hanka, placing her palm over her cheek, just like she did in the camp 72 years ago, to keep the feeling of Sigi’s kiss.
Sigi was working in an ammunition factory of the Nazi army and he even sabotaged the production line by making smaller bullets than they should be, so they dropped out of gun barrels.
He accidentally overheard that Gestapo had the intention to catch him in the act, so he run away and hid in a nearby demolished factory. Only Hanka knew where he was.
Hanka risked her life several times to bring him some bread crumbs and handmade blankets to keep him warm in the cold nights, when temperatures would drop to 15 degrees Celsius below zero.
One night, she came and told him that the camp was liberated and that they are free. They got married the next day, and official marriage ceremony was held on the 50th anniversary of their marriage.
They got two daughters and later moved to Australia.
“We achieved a lot. We have many grandchildren,” Sigi said.
The school that their great-grandson attends, the Bailik College, is currently working on a campaign of collecting 1.5 million buttons in order to pay tribute to the children killed during the Holocaust. Sigi and Hanka donated 180 buttons for this campaign.