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Stefania was born to a Catholic family in a village near Przemysl. They lived on a large farm and cultivated several different crops. While her father worked with the farmhands in the fields, Stefania's mother, a trained midwife, managed the house and cared for her eight children.
1933-39: Stefania's father died in 1938 after an illness. With her mother's approval, she joined her sister in Przemysl in 1939. At 14 she worked in a grocery store owned by the Diamants, a Jewish family. They treated her like family, and she moved in with them when the Germans invaded [Poland] on September 14, 1939. But two weeks later, the Soviets occupied the city [under the German-Soviet Pact]. The grocery store stayed open; Stefania shopped in the market for food to sell to their customers.
1940-44: The Germans again occupied the city in June 1941. Like all Jews in Przemysl, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. Stefania's mother was sent to Germany for forced labor; Stefania was 16 and left to care for her 6-year-old sister. She found an apartment outside the ghetto and traded clothes for food. In 1942 news spread that the ghetto was being liquidated. Stefania decided to help some Jews escape the final roundups by hiding them. She moved into a cottage for more space. Soon, 13 Jews were living in a secret space in her attic.
Przemysl was liberated on July 27, 1944. The Jews that 17-year-old Stefania helped to hide all survived the war. In 1961 she moved to the United States with Josef Diamant, whom she married.
Eva was the only child born to nonreligious Jewish parents. Her father was a journalist. Eva enjoyed spending time with her cousin Susie, who was two years older. Eva also took special vacations with her mother. Sometimes they went skiing in the Austrian alps, and on other occasions they stayed at her uncle's cabin along the Danube River.
1933-39: When the Germans annexed Austria in 1938, life changed. Eva's father was harassed by the Gestapo for writing articles against the Germans. Her good friends called her bad names because she was Jewish. Eva's parents said they had to escape. Eva and her parents fled by train to Paris. One day there, in her third-grade class, bombs began falling. They raced to the air-raid shelter and put on gas masks. The smell of rubber was overwhelming. Eva felt like she was choking.
1940-44: After the Germans entered Paris in 1940, Eva's family escaped to the unoccupied south. Two years later, when she was 13, Germans occupied the south and they were forced to move on again. During the treacherous trek in the mountains between Switzerland and France, they took refuge in the small French village of St. Martin. The village priest, Father Longeray, let Eva's parents hide in his basement. Eva lived openly in the parish house as a shepherdess. She attended church with the other children and learned the Catholic mass in Latin.
Eva and her parents remained hidden in St. Martin. They were liberated at the end of 1944. In 1948, when Eva was 18, she and her parents immigrated to the United States.
Lisa was one of three children born to a religious Jewish family. Following the German occupation of her hometown in 1939, Lisa and her family moved first to Augustow and then to Slonim (in Soviet-occupied eastern Poland). German troops captured Slonim in June 1941, during the invasion of the Soviet Union. In Slonim, the Germans established a ghetto which existed from 1941 to 1942. Lisa eventually escaped from Slonim, and went first to Grodno and then to Vilna, where she joined the resistance movement. She joined a partisan group, fighting the Germans from bases in the Naroch Forest. Soviet forces liberated the area in 1944. As part of the Brihah ("flight," "escape") movement of 250,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors from eastern Europe, Lisa and her husband Aron sought to leave Europe. Unable to enter Palestine, they eventually settled in the United States.
Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. After the German occupation, Sarah (then just three years old) and her mother were forced into a ghetto. One day, a Polish Catholic policeman warned them that the ghetto was about to be liquidated. He sheltered Sarah and her mother first in his house, then in a potato storage bunker, and then in a chicken coop on his property. Sarah hid there for more than two years, until the area was liberated by Soviet forces. After the war, Sarah emigrated from Europe—first to Israel in 1947 and then to the United States in 1963.
Hanne's family owned a photographic studio. In October 1940, she and other family members were deported to the Gurs camp in southern France. In September 1941, the Children's Aid Society (OSE) rescued Hanne and she hid in a children's home in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Her mother perished in Auschwitz. In 1943, Hanne obtained false papers and crossed into Switzerland. She married in Geneva in 1945 and had a daughter in 1946. In 1948, she arrived in the United States.
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