Liliana Guzenfiter

Liliana Guzenfiter

Born: June 16, 1924

Warsaw, Poland

An only child of middle-class Jewish parents, Liliana was raised in a mixed neighborhood of Christians and Jews in Poland's capital. Her father ran a jewelry business and was a reserve officer in the Polish army; her mother was a housewife. Liliana dreamed of going to the Sorbonne and becoming Poland's second female district attorney.

1933-39: The worst part of going to school was being harassed and called a "filthy Jew." Liliana petitioned to enter a prestigious Catholic high school where she was exempted from attending Saturday classes, but like other Jewish students, she was seated separately and shoved in the halls and staircases. After a few weeks she quit, and attended a Jewish high school until it was closed by the occupying Germans in September 1939.

1940-44: After the Jews were forced into the ghetto, Liliana became a slave laborer in the Toebbens factory. By April 1943 her family was dead and the ghetto was ablaze and in revolt. She hunkered down in her factory until the Germans came to get them on May 8. In a rage Liliana grabbed a pair of scissors, but before she could do anything a German smashed her in the head with his rifle butt. She lifted her arm to protect herself and he smashed her again and again, knocking her out. When Liliana woke up the next day she was in a dark, crowded cattle car.

Liliana survived as a slave laborer in the Majdanek and Skarzysko-Kamienna camps before being liberated in Czestochowa on January 18, 1945. She immigrated to America in 1950.

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