Oral History

Sophie Turner-Zaretsky describes living conditions while in hiding in Poland

Sophie was born Selma Schwarzwald to parents Daniel and Laura in the industrial city of Lvov, two years before Germany invaded Poland. Daniel was a successful businessman who exported timber and Laura had studied economics. The Germans occupied Lvov in 1941. After her father's disappearance on her fifth birthday in 1941, Sophie and her mother procured false names and papers and moved to a small town called Busko-Zdroj. They became practicing Catholics to hide their identities. Sophie gradually forgot that she was Jewish. It was not until after their liberation and move to London that Sophie learned the truth about her past.


Really it was a very small town, but they were used to having strangers coming. And my mother was very able and concocted some kind of a plausible story as to why we arrived there and where we came from. We had false papers at that time. We had false names and--so that we fitted in from that point of view. And we were extremely poor and very cold in the beginning. I had scurvy for a good part of the war and our initial accommodations were atrocious. But she did get some salary so little by little things improved and we were able to move into better accommodations. And actually the street where we ended up living for most of the time, down in Busko-Zdroj had--the pavestones were from--had Hebrew writing on them. They were from a Jewish cemetery and I remember walking around it because I felt very--children felt very strange, like it was something--we weren't sure if it was safe. It was pretty awful when I think about it.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection

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