Zisblatt escaped the concentration camp a year later. She traveled to the United States to live with relatives, but she kept her story of surviving the Holocaust a secret for nearly 50 years.
Then, she was convinced to travel back to the site where her family was killed. The trip made her realize that she had to speak out.
“I feel that if you do not know the past and it doesn’t matter whether it’s the holocaust history or histories before that,” Zisblatt said. “If you don’t know the past histories you can not go onto the future and make a better future.”
Zisblatt is the author of “The Fifth Diamond.” The book tells the story of when Zisblatt’s mother gave her four small diamonds and told her to use them to buy bread.
Zisblatt held onto the diamonds, but when she was being searched at the camp she swallowed them. Zisblatt said she painfully retrieved them during her 15 months in the concentration camp and now wears them on a necklace.
Zisblatt says when she was put in the camp at 13 she had to grow up in order to live each day.
“And I had to do what I was told or I would die,” Zisblatt said. “And so I couldn’t be 13 years old anymore.
“I couldn’t exist as a 13 year old anymore, but I couldn’t be anything else either, so I tried to fight for just staying alive, not for a year or not forever just for an hour. Or another hour or maybe just five minutes and each day if I made through the whole day I was blessed.”
She says she knew something like that couldn’t last and that’s how she kept going.
“This horrible thing could not last forever, it was like I was pretending that this was not real,” Zisblatt said. “Unreal things don’t last to long so this is not going to be here forever, this is going to stop sometimes, sometime soon.
“And I want to live one minute after it’s over to see the world because after this hell the world is going to be beautiful. And I just want to have one glimpse of that beautiful world.”
Zisblatt even withstood experiments in the camps.
“We were chosen for Mengele’s experiments,” Zisblatt said. “Mengele was trying to change the color of our eyes.”
“So he injected our eyes and put us in a dungeon in the dark. And then when we come out 3 out of the 5 were blind. And in the dark we were there for about five days in the dungeon, we were standing in water.”
She would emerge with her eyesight, but she still had green eyes instead of the blue that Josef Mengele had hoped for.
Eventually, she was selected to go to the gas chamber, but it wouldn't hold all 1,500 people. So she hid under the roof of the chamber.
A fellow Hungarian teenager, who was forced to haul the bodies of the dead Jews out of the chamber, gave her his coat and put her on a train to a labor camp.
Years later, when Zisblatt returned to the camp where her family was killed, she saw her family in her mind and her mother had a message for her.
“And they were having dinner, my chair was empty next to my little sister and I was going to sit on my chair to sit with my family and have dinner and my mother said, ‘you can’t sit in your chair yet.’ And she says, ‘promise me that you will stop crying and you will do what you must.’ Like she was yelling at me. That was a message, I never spoke about my experience before,” Zisblatt said.
Zisblatt shared her story with students at several Cabell County schools and Marshall University this week.