Blanka was an only child in a close-knit family in Lodz, Poland. Her father died in 1937. After the German invasion of Poland, Blanka and her mother remained in Lodz with Blanka's grandmother, who was unable to travel. Along with other relatives, they were forced into the Lodz ghetto in 1940. There, Blanka worked in a bakery. She and her mother later worked in a hospital in the Lodz ghetto, where they remained until late 1944 when they were deported to the Ravensbrueck camp in Germany. From Ravensbrueck, Blanka and her mother were sent to a subcamp of Sachsenhausen. Blanka was forced to work in an airplane factory (Arado-Werke). Her mother was sent to another camp. Soviet forces liberated Blanka in spring 1945. Blanka, living in abandoned houses, made her way back to Lodz. She discovered that none of her relatives, including her mother, had survived. Blanka then moved westward to Berlin, eventually to a displaced persons camp. She immigrated to the United States in 1947.
I remember distinctly September '39, '39, the first of September, was the first day of war, and I remember--there are certain moments that are crystallized in your memory. They're etched so deeply, and I remember exactly the moment. I was sitting on a balcony, reading a book. And all of sudden, I heard a thud, a tremendous thud sound, and I saw planes circling above the city. I wasn't even afraid. I didn't know with what to associate this, but this was the day that the war started, and the planes came over Poland. I did not know that they crossed the border at that moment, but I remember the planes and the thud. And it startled me, and I got up and went to the room. This is something that is etched in my memory.
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