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Shortly after the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, William's family was ordered into a ghetto and his brother went to a work camp. William bribed officials to discharge his brother from a hospital destined for evacuation to Auschwitz. Later, after escaping from a prison camp to tend to his brother, William was jailed. He was sent to Blechhammer, Gleiwitz (where he met his future wife), and other camps. William collapsed during a death march near the Austrian border, but was then liberated. His parents and brother perished.
Leah grew up in Praga, a suburb of Warsaw, Poland. She was active in the Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa'ir Zionist youth movement. Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. Jews were forced to live in the Warsaw ghetto, which the Germans sealed off in November 1940. In the ghetto, Leah lived with a group of Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa'ir members. In September 1941, she and other members of the youth group escaped from the ghetto to a Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa'ir farm in Zarki, near Czestochowa, Poland. In May 1942, Leah became a courier for the underground, using false Polish papers and traveling between the Krakow ghetto and the nearby Plaszow camp. As conditions worsened, she escaped to Tarnow, but soon decided to return to Krakow. Leah also posed as a non-Jewish Pole in Czestochowa and Warsaw, and was a courier for the Jewish National Committee and the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB). She fought with a Jewish unit in the Armia Ludowa (People's Army) during the Warsaw Polish uprising in 1944. Leah was liberated by Soviet forces. After the war she helped people emigrate from Poland, then moved to Israel herself before settling in the United States.
Both of Charlene's parents were local Jewish community leaders, and the family was active in community life. Charlene's father was a professor of philosophy at the State University of Lvov. World War II began with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. Charlene's town was in the part of eastern Poland occupied by the Soviet Union under the German-Soviet Pact of August 1939. Under the Soviet occupation, the family remained in its home and Charlene's father continued to teach. The Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, and arrested Charlene's father after they occupied the town. She never saw him again. Charlene, her mother, and sister were forced into a ghetto the Germans established in Horochow. In 1942, Charlene and her mother fled from the ghetto after hearing rumors that the Germans were about to destroy it. Her sister attempted to hide separately, but was never heard from again. Charlene and her mother hid in underbrush at the river's edge, and avoided discovery by submerging themselves in the water for part of the time. They hid for several days. One day, Charlene awoke to find that her mother had disappeared. Charlene survived by herself in the forests near Horochow, and was liberated by Soviet troops. She eventually immigrated to the United States.
Bella was the oldest of four children born to a Jewish family in Sosnowiec. Her father owned a knitting factory. After the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, they took over the factory. The family's furniture was given to a German woman. Bella was forced to work in a factory in the Sosnowiec ghetto in 1941. At the end of 1942 the family was deported to the Bedzin ghetto. Bella was deported to the Graeben subcamp of Gross-Rosen in 1943 and to Bergen-Belsen in 1944. She was liberated in April 1945, and immigrated to the United States in 1946.
Lucine was born to a Jewish family in Lublin. Her father was a court interpreter and her mother was a dentist. War began with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. Lucine's home was raided by German forces shortly thereafter. Soon after the German occupation of Lublin, Jews there were forced to wear a compulsory badge identifying them as Jews. A ghetto in Lublin was closed off in January 1942. Lucine survived a series of killing campaigns and deportations from the ghetto during March and April of the same year. Those who held valid labor cards were moved to a new ghetto in April 1942—the Majdan Tatarski ghetto, near the Majdanek killing center. Lucine escaped from Majdan Tatarski in November 1942, the month the Germans liquidated the ghetto. She eventually made her way to Warsaw where she first entered the ghetto and then went into hiding on the "Aryan" side.
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