Ruth Karola Kahn was born in Lorsch on Sept. 16, 1923, the oldest of four daughters of Karl Kahn, a livestock dealer from Babenhausen. Her mother was Paula Lorch from Bahnhofstraße 15. Ruth and her sisters grew up in Lorsch. In 1929 she entered the confessionally mixed girls’ and boys’ class of the Wingertsberg School, together with 46 other Lorsch children. In 1934, the family moved to Babenhausen. The escape to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) failed in 1939 after the British colonial administration withdrew its promise to take in 500 Jews. Ruth, who had finished her schooling, was sent by her mother in 1940 first to Lorsch, and then to Ludwigshafen, to help with the household chores of relatives. In Ludwigshafen, she was caught up in the deportation of 6,500 Jews from Baden and Palatinate to Gurs in southern France on October 21, 1940. From there she was sent to the large internment camp of Rivesaltes. Here there is evidence of an escape attempt – together with a young man. In any case, Ruth was separated from her uncle and aunt. She was accused of prostitution and sent to a remote women’s camp for political prisoners and Jews, Rieucros. From there comes the surviving letter from January 1942. In the spring, her situation worsened. The next camp, Camp de Brens, had an inner area that served as a concentration camp for German and Polish Jewish women. After a raid announced by the prefecture on Aug. 26, 1942, 31 women, including Ruth, were to be deported. When the French gendarmes entered the barracks, the women put up considerable resistance for hours, ultimately unsuccessfully. Via the intermediate camps of Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe and Paris-Drancy, Ruth was taken to Auschwitz with her fellow sufferers. Convoy No. 30 arrived there on 11.9.1942. Whether she survived the selection and lived to see her 19th birthday, we will never know.
Camp de Rieucros, par Mende (Lozère) Le 11.1.1942
Bar[aque] 3 Ruth Kahn
Dear [uncle] Leo!
I received your letter dated October 26, 1941 on January 9, 1942, and was very pleased with it. Thank you very much for the enclosures, I was so happy to see at least the handwritings of the dear ones at home. I am now in another camp, but uncle and aunt are still in Rivesaltes. The food is much better here. I am here since November 20, 1941 and got myself quite well accustomed. For how long, yet? It is the third camp for me in 15 months. It is time all lost. I do not understand why aunt Irma can’t write to me directly, because I know a family in Riv[saltes] who regularily receives mail from Johannesburg, and even aunt Gustel [in Darmstadt] sent money to a cousin to Riv[saltes] which was well received. Dear Leo, you have already achieved a lot with my uncle, he pulled himself together and added a few lines to your dear letter, which surprised me a lot. However, I do not want to be outrageous, he sent 200 fr[ancs] that I can really use. I now own some money for the first time in one year. Please say thank you uncle Leo in my name, I have been very happy about it. Please do also greet many times the dear ones in Canada by me, all our friends and relatives, especially your loved ones. From time to time I hear something from my parents [from home, Babenhausen] by the Red Cross, and so I did this week receive news from uncle Alfred [from birthtown Lorsch] for the first time. Uncle Siegfried [in Riveslates] is not well at all and is staying four weeks now in the infirmery. Aunt Lucie could also be better. Uncle Siegfried hast lost 42 kgs. Can you imagine him like this? His, and aunt’s nerves are completely broken. It is very cold here at the moment and we have a lot of snow, but the landscape is wonderful. The camp is at an elevation of 450 m. I have small opportunities to earn some money which is quite nice. How are you and your dear ones yourselves? I wish I could be with you, but I want to keep my head up, there’s got to be different one day. I even believe, I am a little bit better off here than my dear parents, and for this reason alone I have to bear it. I have to close now, be greeted warmly for today, by Your Ruth.