Esta Heiber was born in Warsaw in 1905. Her family died in the ghetto. Esta and her husband joined the Belgian Résistance. At great personal risk, they placed Jewish children in hiding. Esta kept coded records and oversaw distribution of money and food stamps. She hid her own son with a Catholic family.
In 1943, the Gestapo raided a convent, where they found twenty Jewish children. The Nazis ordered the nuns to keep the children overnight, under penalty of death, when they would return with a truck. The nuns contacted Esta’s husband, who informed the Partisans, who staged a kidnapping so as not to endanger the nuns. Esta and her husband were arrested within hours of the Gestapo’s discovery that the children were gone.
As punishment for giving milk to Gypsies, Esta and her husband were placed in the part of the camp from which transports to Auschwitz were chosen. Three days before the transport, they were given different numbers, which kept them out of Auschwitz. Esta believes the Résistance did this.
In 1944, the Gestapo sold Jews to work in old age homes. On January 11, Esta and her husband were released to direct one of these residences until liberation.
Esta was reunited with her son. She and her husband adopted a girl whom they met in prison. The girl’s parents died in the camps and she herself survived a year in Auschwitz.
Esta says that ”For an entire generation you couldn’t talk about the war because you couldn’t live if you talked about it. If you remained in those memories you couldn’t live.”