From the Editors 29 (2011)Engineer and Editor Juan Hart Moved El Paso Forward 29 (2011)Elizabeth Garrett: Songbird of the Southwest 29 (2011)A Passionate Life: Josephine Clardy Fox 29 (2011)Forgotten No More: Korean War POW Tells Story of Survival 29 (2011)Janice Woods Windle Treasures Family History 29 (2011)Andy and Syd Cohen: The Men Behind the Name 29 (2011)Leona Ford Washington Preserved Black History 29(2011)Ingeborg Heuser Brought Professional Ballet to City 29 (2011)Lee and Beulah Moor Left Legacy of Love 29 (2011)
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Strong Women Building a Strong City -- From the Editors 27(2008)Notable Women of El Paso 27(2009)The Chew Legacy: The Story of Herlinda Wong Chew 27(2009)Desert Nightingale: Louise Dietrich 27(2009)1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso 27(2009)Mabel Welch: El Paso’s First Female Architect 27(2009)Myrna Deckert Remains Modest About Achievements 27(2009)Suzie Azar Still Reaches for the Sky 27 (2009)The Moocher: Callie Fairley, First Woman Vice Detective in El Paso 27(2009)Alicia R. Chacón Came to Politics Naturally 27 (2009)Rosa Guerrero: Cultural Dynamo 27 (2009)
From the Past to the Present -- From the Editor 26 (2007/08)Yandell Boulevard Named for Prominent El Paso Physician 26 (2007/08)Japanese Immigrants Came Slowly to Borderland 26 (2007/08)World War II Affected Japanese Immigrants 26 (2007/08)Living, Breathing New Mexico Ghost Town: Hillsboro 26 (2007/08)Canutillo Developed from Land Grant 26 (2007/08)Rómulo Escobar Zerman: Juárez Agronomist and Teacher 26 (2007/08)El Paso Mayor: Tom Lea Jr. 26 (2007/08)Ted Karam: Lebanese Immigrant Lived American Dream 26 (2007/08)Publication Credits 26 (2007/08)
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Hot Springs Have Long HistoryThe Building of a City -- From the Editor 20 (2001)From the Staff (Volume 20)Pat Garrett Enjoyed Controversy 20 (2001)Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire Terrorized Town 20 (2001)History Reveals Rivalry of Madams Etta Clark and Alice Abbott 20 (2001)Kohlberg, Krupp, Zielonka Became Business and Civic Leaders 20 (2001)Olga Kohlberg Pioneered Many Local Organizations 20 (2001)Henry Trost's Architectural Legacy Lives On 20 (2001)Sunset Heights Preserves History 20 (2001)Adolph Schwartz Built Local Retail Dynasty 20 (2001)Zach T. White Brought Progress to El Paso 20 (2001)Masons Became Leaders in Texas, El Paso 20 (2001)Smallpox Epidemic Showed Need for Hospitals20 (2001)El Paso High School Remains Classic 20 (2001)Bhutanese Architecture Distinguishes UTEP Campus 20 (2001)Elephant Butte Dam Solved Early Water Problems 20 (2001)
Pioneer Ranch became Concordia Cemetery 19 (2000)El Paso Grows Up 19 (2000)From the Staff 19 (2000)Chinese Immigrants Helped Build Railroad in El Paso 19 (2000)Volunteer Fire Department Grew into Professional Company 19 (2000)1880s Brought First Theaters to Town 19 (2000)Sisters of Charity Began Hotel Dieu Hospital 19 (2000)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso Into a Health Center 19 (2000)First Public School Built in 1884 19 (2000)Enigmatic Olivas Aoy Began School for Mexican Children 19 (2000)El Paso Public Library Began Modestly 19 (2000)Jesuits Continue to Influence Area 19 (2000)Sisters of Loretto Have Long Tradition in Southwest 19 (2000)Mormons Found Sanctuary in Mexico in 1880s 19 (2000)Mennonite Colonies in Mexico Accept Change Slowly 19 (2000)Flu Epidemic of 1918 Hit El Paso Hard 19 (2000)Early City Planners Saw Future in Scenic Drive 19 (2000)Prohibition Stimulated Economies of El Paso, Juárez 19 (2000)
The Editor's Column : The Building of a City 18 (1999)From the Editors 18 (1999)Magoffinsville Had Lasting Influence on El Paso 18 (1999)Town of El Paso Grew from Pioneer Settlements 18 (1999)Downtown El Paso Is Monument to Anson Mills 18 (1999)1848 War With Mexico Created Southwest 18 (1999)Colonel Doniphan and Volunteers Won Battle of Brazito 18 (1999)Gadsden Purchase Clarified U.S. Boundaries 18 (1999)Early Fort Bliss Occupied Pioneer Sites 18 (1999)Henry O. Flipper Paved Way for Integration of Military 18 (1999)Buffalo Soldiers Defended Western Frontier 18 (1999)El Paso Was Midpoint of Overland Mail Service 18 (1999)Salt War of 1877 Divided Southwest Residents 18 (1999)Geronimo Led Final Fight 18 (1999)Apache Indians Defended Homelands in Southwest 18 (1999)Texas Rangers Helped Keep Order on Frontier 18 (1999)Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard: Madams of the 1800s 18 (1999)El Paso Grew Up with Arrival of Railroad 18 (1999)
Aztecs Ruled Complex, Rich Society 17 (1998)From the Editor 17 (1998)Aztec Beliefs Helped Conquer Mexico 17 (1998)Cortés Created New Order in Mexico 17 (1998)La Malinche Remains Controversial 17 (1998)Cabeza de Vaca: Travels in Texas 17 (1998)Estebán Furthered Legend of Cíbola 17 (1998)Coronado Searched for Cities of Gold 17 (1998)Oñate Conquered Desert to Explore Southwest 17 (1998)Festival Celebrates Oñate's Historic Arrival 17 (1998)Fray Garcia Left Great Legacy 17 (1998)Franciscans Brought Catholicism to Area 17 (1998)America's First Highway: El Camino Real 17 (1998)Pueblo Revolt Brought Tiguas South 17 (1998)Tigua Indians Survive 300 Years of Ordeals 17 (1998)Area Missions are Part of Living History 17 (1998)San Elizario Presidio Protected Settlers 17 (1998)Ethnic Terms Can Cause Confusion 17 (1998)
Oasis Restaurants Symbolized ‘50s Teen Scene 13 (1995)‘50s Cars Changed American Lifestyle And Image 13 (1995)Chevy Bel Air Charmed 1950 Car Buyers 13 (1995)San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart Of Downtown El Paso 13 (1995)Smokey Bear: A Legend Is Made 13 (1995)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assaults 13 (1995)Company E Survivor Recalls Days As Prisoner Of War 13 (1995)El Paso Red Cross Essential to War Effort 13 (1995)World War II Took its Toll On The Home Front 13 (1995)Civil Air Patrol Protected Border During World War II -- 13 (1995)Quickie Divorces Granted in Juárez 13 (1995)Atomic Bomb Developed In Southwest 13 (1995)Former Crew Members On B-17s Remember Tough Times 13 (1995)Vintage Warplanes Keep Past Alive 13 (1995)The Cavalry Bugler: Essential To Horse and Man 13 (1995)Sun Carnival 1936 Style 13 (1995)H. Arthur Brown: El Paso Symphony Guru Of The ‘30s -- 13 (1995)Swing Music Helped Dispel The Blues Of The ‘30s and ‘40s -- 13 (1995)The General Store: A Hidden Treasure Of The Past 13 (1995)
Change on the Border 15 (1997)From the Editor 15 (1997)Latinos Work To Change Stereotypes In Hollywood 15 (1997)Cesar Chávez: Simple Man, People’s Hero 15 (1997)Shelter For Farm Workers Becomes Reality 15 (1997)Women’s Shelter Helps To Heal The Pain 15 (1997)Home Schools Become Popular Alternative 15 (1997)Renovation May Revive Downtown El Paso 15 (1997)Title IX Changed Women's Sports 15 (1997)Special Olympics Shine In El Paso 15 (1997)La Fe Clinic Serves South El Paso 15 (1997)ASARCO Works To Clean Up Its Act 15 (1997)A Growing Phenomenon: Single Fathers 15 (1997)Stepfamilies Become More Numerous 15 (1997)Teens Rebel Against Authority 15 (1997)Comics Retain Popularity 15 (1997)Tom Moore And Archie Have Timeless Appeal 15 (1997)
Life on the Border: 1950s & 1960s --14 (1996)From The Editors 14 (1996)A Baseball Team By Any Other Name 14 (1996)Drive-In Theaters Appealed to all Ages 14 (1996)El Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations 14 (1996)Barbie Doll Revolutionized Toy Industry 14 (1996)Rabies Took Bite of Sun City 14 (1996)Rabies: A Deadly Virus 14 (1996)Border Patrol Used Variety of Methods to Control Immigration 14 (1996)L. A. Nixon Fought Texas Voting Law 14 (1996)Douglass School Served Black Community Well 14 (1996)Thelma White Case Forced College Integration 14 (1996)Steve Crosno: An El Paso Original 14 (1996)Rock 'N' Roll Defined Teen Culture 14 (1996)A Shopping Mall by the People for the People 14 (1996)Chamizal Dispute Settled Peacefully 14 (1996)Turney Mansion Becomes Work of Art 14 (1996)First Hispanic Mayor Elected in 1957 -- 14 (1996)Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle 14 (1996)
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Border Customs and Crafts From the Editor 10 (1992)From the Editors 10 (1992)King on the Mountain 10 (1992)Piñatas! 10 (1992)How to Play the Piñata Game 10 (1992)Out of a Cotton Boll Bloom Beautiful Crafts 10 (1992)Cotton Boll Entertains Too 10 (1992)Hands That Create Art and Soul 10 (1992)La Charreada - Mexican Horsemanship 10 (1992)Boots - A Family Tradition 10 (1992)Some Boys Still Grow Up to be Cowboys 10 (1992)Boot Capital of the World 10 (1992)The Magic of Mariachis 10 (1992)Ballet Folklorico - High School Style 10 (1992)New Generation of Mariachis 10 (1992)The Lady is a Bullfighter 10 (1992)The Midwife: Choices for Border Women 10 (1992)Retablos: Echoes of Faith 10 (1992)Tigua Indians: Dancing for St. Anthony 10 (1992)The Aztec and the Miracle 10 (1992)A Hispanic Girl's Coming of Age 10 (1992)Art - Low and Slow 10 (1992)Wedding Traditions on the Border 10 (1992)
Border Food Folkways From the Editor 9 (1991)From the Staff 9 (1991)Tortillas: Border Staff of Life 9 (1991)The Booming Tortilla Industry in Mexico 9 (1991)Where's The Beef? In El Paso! 9 (1991)How Do I Love Thee, Piggy? Let Me Count the Ways! 9 (1991)Tamales By Any Other Name Remain The Same 9 (1991)Rio Grande Thanksgiving 9 (1991)The Tigua Indians: Food for Thought 9 (1991)Corn: The Golden Gift from Our Ancestors 9 (1991)Border Pottery - Function and Beauty 9 (1991)Holy Hot Mole! 9 (1991)Looking Back at the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Men Behind the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Hot Peppers : They're Not Just for Eating 9 (1991)Food, Spices Double as Folk Cures 9 (1991)Weeds or Edible Desert Plants? 9 (1991)Cactus: It's Good for You! 9 (1991)Day of the Dead Celebrates Spiritual Tradition 9 (1991)Nutricious, Delicious Beans 9 (1991)Menudo Makes The Big Time 9 (1991)Mediterranean Cuisine: Old Tradition, Fresh Idea 9 (1991)Lenten Foods: From Fasting to Fabulous 9 (1991)Tarahumaras Rely on Nature for Food 9 (1991)Tempting Sweet Breads : Pan de Dulce 9 (1991)
Border Customs and Crafts II From the Editor -- 11 (1993)From the Editors 11 (1993)The Best Little Asaderos in Texas 11 (1993)Glass Work Disappearing on Border 11 (1993)Cockfights Legal in Surrounding Areas 11 (1993)Local Craftsmen Keep Art of Saddlery Alive 11 (1993)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers 11 (1993)Chile Ristras Brighten Border Homes 11 (1993)Magoffin Home Preserves El Paso's Past 11 (1993)Bavarian Custom Celebrated in El Paso: Oktoberfest 11 (1993)Munich on the Border 11 (1993)Santo Niño de Atocha Called Miracle Worker 11 (1993)Lenten Customs Vary 11 (1993)To Ask is to Receive 11 (1993)Border Maintains Tradition of Posadas 11 (1993)A Visit from Three Kings 11 (1993)Matachines: Soldiers of the Virgin 11 (1993)Dichos Are an Intricate Part of Mexican Culture 11 (1993)Cultural Superstitions Affect Behavior 11 (1993)Que Onda Homeboy! Why Do We Talk Like This? 11 (1993)Traditional Hispanic Children's Games Disappear 11 (1993)
El Paso Women to ResearchEl Paso Women to Research (by name)El Paso Men to ResearchEl Paso Men to Research (by name)
From the Editors 30 (2012)From the Editor, Credits and Contents 30 (2012)Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter 30 (2012)Woodrow Wilson Bean: One in a Million 30 (2012)David L. Carrasco Gave Back to Hometown 30 (2012)Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important 30 (2012)Robert E. McKee: From Rags to Riches to Philanthropy 30 (2012)Kate Moore Brown: A Woman of Many Firsts 30 (2012)Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club 30 (2012)
Borderlands Web Issue From the Editor 31(2013/14)Acknowledgements 31(2013/14)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 31(2013/14)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 31 (2013/14)Harvey Girls Changed the West 31(2013/14)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 31(2013/14)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 31(2013/14)
Borderlands 32 Tolerance. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 32(2014/15)Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum 32(2014/15)Bicycle Padre Still Working 32(2014/15)El Paso Connections: Ambrose Bierce: writer 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Bobby Fuller, Rock Icon 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Tom Ogle, Inventor 32(2014/15)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 32(2014)Harvey Girls Changed the West 32(2014)
Borderlands 33 Service. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 33(2015)Nothing Is Impossible: Major General Heidi V. Brown 33 (2015)Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism 33 (2015)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 33 (2015)Will the Real Leon Blevins Please stand up? 33 (2015)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 33 (2015)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 33 (2015)
Borderlands 34 Inspiration. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 34(2016/17)Building Bridges Instead of Walls: Temple Mount Sinai 34 (2016/17)Ruben Salazar: A Bridge Between Two Societies 34 (2016/17)Luis Jimenez: Art Creates Dialogue 34 (2016/17)Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17)Rescue Mission of El Paso Provides Food and Opportunity 34 (2016/17)
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Hanna's Story A Holocaust Survivor Remembers

Article first published in Vol. 12, 1994. 

By Erika Lynne Witzke

Hanna Burstein today.Hanna Schmidt was just 16 years old when Adolph Hitler invaded her Polish homeland in 1939. This was the beginning of World War II and one of the first steps in Hitler's plan for the genocide of the Jews. At the outset, Jews were made to wear arm bands with the Star of David imprinted on them so that they would be easily recognized. Hanna and her family were at first able to walk the streets freely, but that would not last long.

Hanna Burstein today. Photo by Erika Witzke

In less than a year, the street Hanna lived on was made into a ghetto. All Jews in the vicinity were made to leave their homes and reside on this one street. A wall surrounded the ghetto, the only exit being a guarded gate. Thousands live in very cramped quarters. Families were separated. In order to prevent any additional children being born to Jews, the Nazis forced men and women to live separately. Most utilities were disconnected in the ghetto; the only "luxury" allowed was running water.

The ghetto in which Hanna lived was divided into two sections: one where the workers lived and one that housed small children and the elderly. Workers were given a piece of bread "slightly larger than a slice, but not much," Hanna remembers, for their daily food ration. The non-workers were given nothing. Hanna lived in the working section and worked in a thread factory.

On more than one occasion, Nazi soldiers stormed the ghetto to round up persons for exportation by cattle car to labor or death camps. On one such roundup, Hanna and her father heard the approaching footsteps of Nazi soldiers. "They had such heavy footsteps," recalls Hanna. She quickly told her father that she knew of a hiding place under some wood in the attic where they might find safety.

Her father at first suggested that maybe they should just go willingly because if they were found, they would be shot. But he looked again into the eyes of his young daughter and said, "We shall hide. If they find us, at least we will die together."

Hanna and her father were not found. Her mother, on the other hand, was not so fortunate. Nazi soldiers found her hiding elsewhere and killed her the same day.

A year and a half later, the ghetto was liquidated and Hanna and her father were sent to Krakow-Plaszow, a labor camp. This is the same camp, incidentally, where Oskar Shindler's factory located. Hanna worked at the other factory in the camp that made uniforms for the German army.

The workers in the uniform factory were divided into two groups: the sewing machine operators and the finishers. The finishers' job was to sew buttons and other final additions to the German uniform. Hanna was a machine operator.

She remembers a day when a guard came into the factory and ordered all finishers to one side of the room and all machine operators to stay where they were. Hanna remembers telling a fifteen-year-old finisher standing next to her, "Don't go! Stay with me! Stay with me!"

The young girl replied, "If they find out I am a finisher, they will kill me!"

Hanna then said, "Would you rather die a quick death here, or in a cattle car to Auschwitz?"

The girl remained next to Hanna. The German guard told all of the workers to throw away their labor cards that contained their job descriptions. He didn't even look at them. All of the finishers were taken to the cattle cars, all but the young girl. Her deception went undiscovered by the Nazis, and she is alive today.

On another occasion, Hanna went to the men's barracks to see her father. She was told he had been transferred to the section of the camp that housed the dying. She went there and found him bone thin and too weak to walk. His ankles were very swollen. Hanna remembers him saying, "If I could get a slice of bread, I feel I might get stronger and be able to go back to work." When a worker was no longer able to perform his or her duties, his daily food ration was discontinued.

The next morning, when Hanna was given her ration for the day, she went quickly as she could to give her portion, all the while thinking that if he got this one piece of bread, he might gain enough strength to get well again. When she came to the place he had been the day before, he was no longer there. She asked for him and was told that he had died the night before.

The barracks provided for the workers consisted of four walls and wooden bunk beds without mattresses, blankets or pillows. There was no bathroom or anything to provide even the smallest comfort.

While still at Krakow, a family was found hiding to avoid being sent to Auschwitz. The group was brought out in plan sight of everyone, and the guard began shooting them one by one. One of the children, a little girl, fell to the feet of the Nazi guard, crying and begging him, "Let me alive! Let me alive!"

Hanna remembers it like it was yesterday. "The guard in the same second shot her in the head right before my eyes, "she said. "No mercy whatsoever."

Hanna lived in Krakow for almost a year and a half until the camp was liquidated and she was sent to Auschwitz. "When we got off the cattle cars at Auschwitz, there was an orchestra there to greet us," she remembers, still disbelief. "There was a really awful smell, too, but we didn't know what it was at first. We later learned that it was the smell of human bones burning in the crematorium."

The women were then made to undress and be inspected. The infamous "Doctor of Death," Dr. Josef Mengele, performed the inspections. "This was done out in the open. With the wave of a hand, not even a word, he would decide who would live and who would die. The only women he chose to live were those with young, healthy bodies. Having a rash was reason enough to be sent to the crematorium," Hanna remembers.

The prisoners at Auschwitz were assigned numbers, which were tattooed on their forearm. "This was very painful," she recalls. Those doing the tattooing were not trained and no antiseptic was used. A young girl in line in front of Hanna screamed in pain when the number was being tattooed. "A big German female guard came up to the screaming girl, socked her in the mouth and knocked out all of her teeth," Hanna says. Hanna's constant reminder of this day is the number still tattooed on her arm.

After living in Auschwitz for over a year, word came that the Russian army was approaching. Hanna and other prisoners were sent to Czechoslovakia. They weren't given one particular job but were made to do whatever was necessary on any given day. It was difficult if not impossible to keep track of time in the camps, as the prisoners were not allowed access to any kind of news from the outside world. On Sunday, prisoners were not taken to work. This helped them track of the days of the week, but the months and years were more difficult.

On her way to work one day, Hanna could see a Christmas tree in the window of one of the homes outside of the camp, so she knew it must be Christmas time. On Christmas Day, the prisoners were not ordered to work instead were told to come out of the barracks and line up. It was freezing cold. They had no shoes, only their flimsy work clothes. The guard brought out a large German shepherd dog and proceeded to feed it in front of the starving prisoners to show that animals were more humanely treated than they were. "Many dropped dead that day from cold and hunger," remembers Hanna. "They [the Nazis] were so sadistic, so cruel."

The next day, Hanna was told to report to the Nazi officers' club to clean up after the Christmas party the night before. While there, she saw herself in the mirror for the first time in almost four years. "I looked and looked and didn't recognize myself," she recalls.

One day in early May of 1945, the Nazis did not call Hanna's group to work. They thought it was because they had become so weak, that they were going to be taken to the forest and shot. They could no longer stand, much less work. Just then, young Russian soldiers, men and women, cut through the wires of the camp and said to them, "We brought you freedom! We brought you freedom!" The war was over. Hanna was nearly twenty years old.

She looked at the young Russian soldiers and said, "Today is our birthday. This is the day we are born!" This way May 8, 1945, 49 years ago.

Shortly after the war, Hanna met and married Paul Burstein and they had a son. The El Paso Jewish community brought the three of them to El Paso and helped them to begin a new life. Hanna and her husband then had two daughters. She says her three children are the center of her life; she is immensely proud of them.

Hanna only recently began speaking of her experience because now she feels the necessity to educate the public, especially young people, about the experience of those persecuted in Europe during the Holocaust. There is a  "revisionist" movement  gaining strength in the United States and Europe which denies the Holocaust ever happened. But Hanna feels that as painful as the memories are to recall, survivors like herself need to give testimony to what really happened during World War II.

"I've been asked, 'How did you survive?' I don't really know," Hanna says. "All those years I hoped someone would survive, that someone would be left to tell what happened. Because if it happened once, it can happen again."

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