Esther Morgensztern

Esther Morgensztern

Born: 1927

Kaluszyn, Poland

The fourth of five children, Esther was born to Jewish parents living 35 miles east of Warsaw in the small predominantly Jewish town of Kaluszyn. Esther's mother and grandmother ran a newspaper kiosk in the town, and her father worked as a clerk at the town hall.

1933-39: Next year would have been Esther's last year at school, but she won't be able to graduate. War has broken out between Poland and Germany, so the schools have closed. A big battle took place here in Kaluszyn. The town was heavily shelled and many houses, including her building, were destroyed. Esther's parents have decided to move to Minsk Mazowiecki, 10 miles away, where her father has relatives. They'll have to live with them for a while.

1940-44: When Esther's family first moved in with her relatives, it wasn't so bad. But now the rooms are so crowded that her grandmother, who came with them, has decided to return to Kaluszyn to live with Esther's Aunt Raizel. The Nazis have forced more than 5,000 Jews in Minsk Mazowiecki to live in one small area of the town. There aren't enough houses for everyone, so families are doubling up. Typhus, carried by lice, has started to spread, and Esther's mother is always worrying that they'll come down with the fever.

In 1942, 15-year-old Esther and her family fled to Kaluszyn to escape deportation. Soon after, however, the Jews in Kaluszyn were deported to the Treblinka killing center.

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