Chaia Gurvitz

Chaia Gurvitz

Born: 1876

Lithuania

From a Jewish family, Chaia lived outside Kovno, a city with a large Jewish population that was renowned for its Hebrew school system. Chaia ran a grocery store with her husband, a retired shoemaker, and their daughter Yenta.

1933-39:  Chaia is expecting her daughter Feiga, Feiga's husband, Josef, and her grandson, Abraham, for dinner. Feiga works so hard all week in her beauty shop, Chaia is glad she can help out by preparing the big Sunday meal. She has baked a special cake for Abe. Chaia hopes the family get-together isn't marred by talk of politics. There's been so much disturbing news on the radio about what's happening to Jews in Germany now that the Nazis are in power.

1940-44: The Germans have occupied Kovno. They've forced all the Jews to wear the Star of David and to relocate to a fenced-in ghetto. Every day the guards take people away, never to return. This morning--a cold, drizzly autumn day--everyone in the ghetto, including Chaia, has to report to Democracy Plaza for an inspection. They have to comply or risk being killed. Chaia wonders where they will take her and what will happen to everybody. They march to the Plaza over streets lightly dusted with snow--Yenta and Chaia, and Feiga, Josef, and Abe.

On October 28, 1941, Chaia was taken with 10,000 other Jews to the Ninth Fort, outside Kovno. There they were killed by Lithuanian guards acting under Nazi orders.

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