Born: May 11, 1920
The younger of two children born to Jewish parents, Rachela grew up in Radom, an industrial town located some 60 miles south of Warsaw. One-quarter of the city's 100,000 prewar population was Jewish. Rachela's father was a Zionist and was active in municipal affairs. Her mother did volunteer work.
l933-39: Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. On September 5, with the Germans rapidly advancing, Rachela's family sought temporary safety with relatives in Warsaw. They got separated along the way. Rachela and her mother made it to Warsaw just before the city was surrounded. After Warsaw surrendered on September 28, they returned to German-occupied Radom. Rachela's father and brother ended up in Soviet-occupied eastern Poland.
1940-44: In 1941 the Germans locked Radom's Jews into two ghettos. Most of the Jews were deported to the Treblinka killing center in 1942, but Rachela and her mother were selected to be slave laborers. When their camp in Radom was moved in 1943, they managed to escape. They went to Warsaw, where Rachela's cousin had assumed a non-Jewish identity. He had sent Rachela the ID of a Catholic girl who looked like her. Rachela and her mother lived there as "Catholics." In 1944, during the Polish uprising, Rachela and her mother became separated. She never saw her again.
After the war, Rachela was reunited with her father and brother, who returned from Soviet Asia where they had spent most of the war. In 1947 Rachela immigrated to the United States.