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  • Thomas Elek

    ID Card

    Thomas was born to a Jewish family who moved to Paris when he was 6. His father's outspoken criticism of the fascist government and his affiliation with the Hungarian Communist Party led to the family's expulsion from Hungary in 1930. With the help of his father, a professor of modern languages, Thomas quickly learned French and excelled in school. He had a special interest in poetry and music. 1933-39: Thomas's father often argued against fascism, and he was greatly disturbed when Hitler became the…

    Thomas Elek
  • Leon Kusmirek

    ID Card

    Leon was the oldest of two boys born to a Jewish family in Zgierz, a central Polish town in the heart of Poland's textile producing region. The family lived at 15 Konstantynowska Street. Leon's father worked at a textile factory. At age 7, Leon began attending public school in the morning and religious school in the afternoon. 1933-39: On Friday, September 1, 1939, Leon's mother had just returned from the market when the family saw German planes. On Sunday they flew over again, lower, panicking the city.…

    Leon Kusmirek
  • Leo Falkenstein

    ID Card

    One of three children, Leo grew up in the small town of Hochneukirch, 20 miles northwest of Cologne. As an adult, Leo entered his father's cigar manufacturing business, "Isak Falkenstein and Sons." Leo and his wife, Bertha, lived in a house next to Leo's parents. Leo and Bertha had six children whom they raised in the Jewish faith. 1933-39: Leo and Bertha's daughter Johanna has brought her two girls to live with them for a while here in Hochneukirch. Johanna's husband, Carl, has been having trouble…

    Leo Falkenstein
  • Helga Leeser

    ID Card

    The older of two sisters, Helga was raised by prosperous, non-religious Jewish parents in the small Catholic town of Duelmen in western Germany. Her family owned a linen factory. Before marrying Helga's much older father in 1927, her mother had been a Dutch citizen. As a child, Helga looked forward to vacations in the Netherlands with its comparatively relaxed atmosphere. 1933-39: At age 6 Helga began attending a Catholic elementary school. Antisemitism wasn't a problem until the night of November 9, 1938…

    Helga Leeser
  • Moses Rechnitz

    ID Card

    The younger of two children, Moses was born to Jewish parents living in the southwestern Polish town of Bedzin. When he was 7, his family moved to the nearby city of Katowice where his father had a wholesale leather business. The Rechnitzes lived in a three-bedroom, upper-floor apartment on Jordana Street. Moses attended a Polish elementary school and also received religious instruction. 1933-39: In secondary school, Moses was one of the only Jewish pupils. He first encountered antisemitism when a teacher…

    Moses Rechnitz
  • Sarah Rivka Felman

    ID Card

    One of seven children, Sarah was raised in a Yiddish-speaking, religious Jewish home in Sokolow Podlaski, a manufacturing town in central Poland with a large Jewish population of some 5,000. Sarah's parents ran a grain business. In 1930, Sarah began attending public elementary school in Sokolow Podlaski. 1933-39: After graduating from middle school in 1937 at the age of 14, Sarah helped out her now widowed mother in the family's grain business. Two years later, Germany attacked Poland. German aircraft…

    Sarah Rivka Felman
  • Miksa Deutsch

    ID Card

    Miksa was the youngest of four children born to religious Jewish parents. The Deutches lived in the town of Bistrita in Transylvania, a region of Romania that belonged to Hungary until 1918. After 1910, the family lived in nearby Viseu de Sus. In 1922 Miksa moved to Budapest, Hungary, where he and his older brother, Pal, opened a business selling matches. In 1928 Miksa married Kornelia Mahrer. 1933-39: Miksa and Kornelia had three children, whom they raised with a religious education. Miksa and his…

    Miksa Deutsch
  • David J. Selznik

    ID Card

    The village in Lithuania where David grew up was located near the Latvian border. His father was a peddler. At age 6, David was sent to Ukmerge, a town known to Jews by its Russian name, Vilkomir, to study traditional Jewish texts at the rabbinical academy there. Six years later, David was called to return home to head the Selznik family because his father had died. 1933-39: David lost his job in 1933, so he left Lithuania and went to the United States and then Portugal. But in 1936 the Baltic states were…

    Tags: ghettos
    David J. Selznik
  • Welwel Rzondzinski

    ID Card

    One of six children, Welwel was born to Jewish parents living in the predominantly Jewish town of Kaluszyn, 35 miles east of Warsaw. His parents were religious, and they spoke Yiddish at home. Welwel's father was a bookkeeper for a large landowner. After Welwel's father died, his mother ran a newspaper kiosk in Kaluszyn. Welwel married when he was in his twenties and moved with his wife Henia to Warsaw. 1933-39: When war broke out three months ago, many Jews left Warsaw in a mass exodus towards the east.…

    Tags: Warsaw Poland
    Welwel Rzondzinski
  • Ethel Stern

    ID Card

    Ethel was born to a Jewish family living in Warsaw. When she was 9, her family moved to the town of Mogielnica, about 40 miles southwest of Warsaw. Ethel's father spent much of his time studying religious texts. His wife managed the family liquor store. Ethel attended public school during the day and was tutored in religious studies in the evening. 1933-39: Ethel had always wanted to be a teacher. At age 14, after attending religious school in Lodz, she began to teach in the town of Kalisz, where her…

    Ethel Stern

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