Selma Schwarzwald

Selma Schwarzwald

Born: September 2, 1937

Lvov, Poland

Both of Selma's Jewish parents, Daniel Schwarzwald and Laura Litwak, had been raised in the industrial city of Lvov. As many different nationalities lived in Lvov, Selma's mother and father could speak many languages--Polish, Russian, German and Yiddish. In running his successful lumber business, Daniel also occasionally used English.

1933-39: Selma's parents married in April 1935 and she was born two years later. Her father was afraid that there might be a war and wanted to move the family to safety in Britain. But her mother didn't want to abandon her parents. In September 1939, when Selma was 2 years old, the Germans invaded Poland from the west while the Soviets invaded from the east. Lvov fell under Soviet control.

1940-44: In 1941 the Germans occupied Lvov. On the day of Selma's fifth birthday, her father disappeared. Selma and her mother moved to a small town called Busko-Zdroj. Her mother told Selma her name was Zofia Tymejko, that they were Catholic, and warned her: "Never tell anyone we're from Lvov, never talk to strangers." They became practicing Catholics. One day at school, her teacher said Germans and Jews were bad--the Germans because they killed Poles, the Jews because they killed Jesus. Selma asked her mother; she said she knew some Jews and that they weren't all bad.

After the war ended, Selma and her mother immigrated to England. There, Selma learned that she was Jewish. She eventually became a doctor, and settled in America in 1963.

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