Adela Litwak

Adela Litwak

Born: April 15, 1920

Lvov, Poland

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: My dream was to go on to medical school. But the tiny Jewish quota at colleges and universities virtually excluded me from enrolling. By September 1939 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 at least spared us from German occupation.

1940-44: After the Germans occupied Lvov in July 1941, I avoided German roundups and deportation. My brother-in-law bought me a false ID card from a Pole. Becoming Ksenia Osoba, a Polish Catholic, I left Lvov in September 1942 and found work in Krakow as a secretary and governess. Working conditions were not too bad, but I was in constant fear of being discovered. On the trolley one day I met a former classmate of mine. I froze. Rather than talk to her I got off immediately. I didn't know if she would give me 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.