Find topics of interest and explore encyclopedia content related to those topics
Find articles, photos, maps, films, and more listed alphabetically
Recommended resources and topics if you have limited time to teach about the Holocaust
Explore the ID Cards to learn more about personal experiences during the Holocaust
Jacob was the eldest of three sons born to religious Jewish parents in the city of Krakow. His father was a flour merchant. The Wassermans spent summer vacations near Proszowice at a farm owned by their grandfather, who also ran a flour mill.
1933-39: In March 1939, at the age of 13, Jacob celebrated his bar-mitzvah. That summer, his family vacationed as usual at his grandfather's farm. They returned to a nightmare. Krakow had been occupied by the Germans on September 6. Jews were not allowed to walk on the sidewalks, to ride streetcars, or even to own radios. Jacob and his family were even afraid to walk in the streets because Jews were often kidnapped and beaten.
1940-45: In 1940, Jacob's family retreated to the farm. Early one Saturday, the Jews in the area were rounded up. They were being marched into Proszowice when a Polish policeman—two dead bodies next to him—motioned to Jacob demanding why he hadn't greeted him "Good morning." As Jacob came closer the policeman loaded his gun and pointed it at him. But as Jacob passed, the policeman bashed him with the barrel, smashing his nose and jaw. Jacob broke away and lost himself in the column; the policeman shot someone else instead. Four days later Jacob and his father were deported to the Prokocim camp.
Jacob spent the rest of the war in labor camps. In 1947 he attempted to immigrate illegally to Palestine, but was detained in Cyprus by the British. He settled in Israel in 1948.
Pinchas was born into a large family living in the town of Miechow in south central Poland. His father was a machinist and locksmith. Pinchas spent long days studying, either learning Hebrew in the Jewish school or taking general subjects at the public school. He belonged to the Zionist youth organization, Ha Shomer ha-Tsa'ir, and played left wing for a Jewish soccer team.
1933-39: At 13 Pinchas finished school and started work as an apprentice machinist and blacksmith in a building contractor's shop. When the German army invaded Poland in 1939, his parents decided that Pinchas and his older brother, Herschel, should flee to the Soviet-occupied part of Poland. They were on foot and no match for the motorized German division that overtook them about 150 miles east of Miechow. There was nothing else to do but return home.
1940-44: Pinchas repaired vehicles for the Germans in Miechow and later, at their Krakow airbase. In July 1943 he was deported to Krakow's suburb of Plaszow, where the Nazis had established a labor camp over a very old Jewish cemetery. There, he worked as a machinist and blacksmith with his father. Every day he saw Jews being shot by the SS guards or torn to death by dogs. The camp's commander, Goeth, always had two large dogs with him. All he had to say was, "Get somebody!" Pinchas never knew if his last minute was approaching.
Pinchas was deported to Auschwitz in early 1945. One of the few survivors of a two-week death march, he was liberated near the Dachau camp in April. He immigrated to the United States in 1948.
Adela was the youngest of five children born to religious Jewish parents in the industrial city of Lvov. Often known by her nickname, Putzi, she grew up in the same building as her paternal grandparents and learned to speak Polish, German and Yiddish. She attended public and private schools in Lvov before graduating from a Polish secondary school.
1933-39: Adela's dream was to go on to medical school. But the tiny Jewish quota at colleges and universities virtually excluded Jews from enrolling. By September 1939 Adela felt there were worse problems than not being able to attend university. The Germans invaded Poland from the west, and the Soviets came from the east and occupied Lvov in late September. Though instituting communism, Soviet rule spared them from German occupation.
1940-44: After the Germans occupied Lvov in July 1941, Adela avoided German roundups and deportation. Her brother-in-law bought her a false ID card from a Pole. Becoming Ksenia Osoba, a Polish Catholic, Adela left Lvov in September 1942 and found work in Krakow as a secretary and governess. Working conditions were not too bad, but she was in constant fear of being discovered. On the trolley one day she met her former classmate. Adela froze. Rather than talk to her Adela got off immediately. Adela didn't know if she would give her away.
Adela kept her false identity until she emigrated to England after the war. She married another Holocaust survivor. Together they moved to Canada and then to the United States.
John, who was born to a non-Jewish Polish family, graduated from an art academy. Following the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, John was in Krakow. Food became scarce in Krakow, with long lines of people waiting for whatever food was available. John decided to join the resistance against the Germans. By early 1940, he and two of his friends felt that they were in danger and decided to try to escape to France. John was caught and arrested during this escape attempt. He survived imprisonment in the Auschwitz camp, where he was classified as a political prisoner and his uniform was marked with a red triangle.
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.
Leopold was a teacher in Krakow, Poland, when World War II began in 1939. While serving in the Polish army, he was captured by Germans. Leopold escaped from a prisoner-of-war transport. Soon after, he met the German industrialist Oskar Schindler. The two became friends. Leopold was forced to live in the Krakow ghetto. He later worked in Schindler's factory in Bruennlitz. He and the other Jews who worked there were treated relatively well and protected from the Nazis. After the war, Leopold moved to the United States.
We would like to thank The Crown and Goodman Family and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing
work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia.
View the list of all donors.