Erica Lawson

Erica Lawson

Erica Lawson, a beacon of resilience amidst the darkest pages of history, entered this world as Erica Gunsberger in the heart of Pápa, Hungary, in 1923. Her harrowing odyssey commenced at the tender age of 21, incarcerated in the unfathomable depths of Auschwitz II-Birkenau in Poland, infamously known as the “Death Camp.” Alongside her mother and two sisters, she bore witness to the sheer brutality of an inhumane regime. It was sheer providence, her unwavering health, and an inner strength that defied the ominous call of the gas chambers.

Yet, her trials did not end there. She was thrust into the clutches of Zillerthal-Erdmannsdorf and Ravensbrück in Germany, as if the weight of being a prisoner wasn’t burden enough. It was during her time at Ravensbrück that she found herself ensnared in the web of Josef Mengele’s twisted experiments—a grueling chapter she miraculously survived.

Emerging from the horrors of incarceration, she was finally greeted by liberation in 1945 at Mauthausen concentration camp, an emancipation brought forth by the valiant efforts of the Americans.

In the wake of such profound adversity, she found solace in love, marrying in 1948 and welcoming her sole daughter, Angela, into the world in 1949. Angela, born with special needs, graced Erica’s life but tragically departed in 2006 in Israel, leaving behind a void no words could fill.

Even in the short span of time I’ve had the privilege to know her, Erica’s unwavering strength and indomitable spirit continue to astound. Her resilience remains a testament to the unwavering human spirit, a testament to the enduring power of the human will to overcome the darkest of tribulations.

In recounting her experiences, Erica felt a profound indebtedness to the Italian people, deeming them as the epitome of generosity, compassion, and understanding during the tumultuous years of the Second World War. It filled her heart with joy to learn of this exhibition’s unveiling in Italy, knowing that its purpose was to support and aid those with special needs, a cause that resonated deeply within her.

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