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  • Kyiv (Kiev) and Babyn Yar (Babi Yar) - maps

    Media Essay

    In late September 1941, SS and German police units and their auxiliaries perpetrated one of the largest massacres of World War II. It took place at a ravine called Babyn Yar (Babi Yar) just outside the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv (Kiev).

  • Lutz Haase

    ID Card

    Lutz was one of two children born to religious Jewish parents living in Wrzesnia when it was still part of Germany. After World War I, Wrzesnia became part of Polish territory. Preferring to remain as German citizens, Lutz's family moved to Nuremberg. There, his father opened a kosher butcher shop. In 1926 the Haases relocated to Berlin and reestablished their butcher shop there. 1933-39: Like many of Berlin's Jews, Lutz was assigned by the Gestapo to a work detail in 1937. He laid electrical cable for…

    Lutz Haase
  • Dr. Johan Hendrik Weidner

    ID Card

    Johan was the eldest of four children born to Dutch parents. His father was a minister in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Johan grew up in Collonges, France, where his father served as a pastor. After attending French public schools, Johan graduated from the Seventh-Day Adventist Seminary in Collonges, and went on to study law and business at the universities of Geneva and Paris. 1933-39: After completing his studies in 1935, Johan opened an import/export textile business in Paris. Business prospered…

    Tags: Belgium France
    Dr. Johan Hendrik Weidner
  • Danuta Justyna

    ID Card

    Danuta was born to Roman Catholic parents in the small industrial town of Piotrkow Trybunalski in central Poland. Her father and mother were school teachers. She and her younger sister, Maria, became friends with two Jewish girls, Sabina and Helena Szwarc. Although their houses were more than a mile apart, the girls often played together. 1933-39: Danuta was planning on attending college in September 1939, but on September 1 Germany invaded Poland. Four days later, German soldiers streamed into Danuta's…

    Danuta Justyna
  • Kazimiera Banach Justynowa

    ID Card

    Kazimiera was born to Roman Catholic parents in the town of Mierzen. After graduating from a teacher's college in Staniatki, she married Wincenty Justyna, a secondary school teacher. The couple settled in the small industrial city of Piotrkow Trybunalski and raised three children, Jerzy (a boy), Danuta and Maria. Kazimiera worked as a school teacher. 1933-39: With their combined incomes the Justynas were able to buy a plot of land and build a house. The Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and…

    Kazimiera Banach Justynowa
  • Maria Justyna

    ID Card

    Maria was born to Roman Catholic parents in the industrial town of Piotrkow Trybunalski in central Poland. Her father and mother were school teachers. Maria attended grade school and secondary school in Piotrkow. She and her older sister, Danuta, became friends with two Jewish girls, Sabina and Helena Szwarc. Although their houses were more than a mile apart, the girls often played together. 1933-39: The Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and occupied Piotrkow four days later. Most schooling for…

    Maria Justyna
  • Stefania (Fusia) Podgorska

    ID Card

    Stefania was born to a Catholic family in a village near Przemysl. They lived on a large farm and cultivated several different crops. While her father worked with the farmhands in the fields, Stefania's mother, a trained midwife, managed the house and cared for her eight children. 1933-39: Stefania's father died in 1938 after an illness. With her mother's approval, she joined her sister in Przemysl in 1939. At 14 she worked in a grocery store owned by the Diamants, a Jewish family. They treated her like…

    Stefania (Fusia) Podgorska
  • Simone Weil

    ID Card

    Simone was the oldest of two children born to a Jewish family in the small village of Ringendorf. When she was 3 her family moved to Strasbourg. Her father made his living breeding sheep. Simone and her younger brother were both active in a Jewish scouting organization, Les Eclaireurs Israelites de France (EIF). Simone attended a public secondary school in Strasbourg. 1933-39: In addition to attending secondary school for five days of the week, Simone also went to a Jewish religious school on the other…

    Simone Weil
  • Manya Moszkowicz

    ID Card

    Manya was born in Chmielnik, a small Polish town that had a Jewish community dating back to the 16th century. Her father owned a furniture shop and her mother took care of the home. Manya had two younger brothers, David and Mordechai, and was surrounded by many close relatives. She attended both public and Hebrew schools and had many friends. 1933–39: In 1938 Manya's family moved to Sosnowiec, a larger city located near the German border. There she had her first experience with antisemitism. Signs…

    Manya Moszkowicz
  • Welek Luksenburg

    ID Card

    Welek grew up in Dabrowa Gornicza, an industrial town in western Poland. His father, Simcha, was a wholesale meat merchant and his mother, Rozalia, served as president of the local chapter of the Women's International Zionist Organization. Welek's older brother, Szlomo, was a dentist. The Luksenburgs were among the several thousand Jews who lived in Dabrowa Gornicza. 1933–39: Like many other children in the town, Welek attended public school. Because his family was very religious, he did not attend…

    Welek Luksenburg
  • Abraham Malnik

    ID Card

    Abraham was born to a Jewish family in Kovno, a city picturesquely situated at the confluence of two rivers. With an opera company, chic stores and lively nightclubs, it was often called "Little Paris." The city had a large Jewish community of 38,000 and was known for its extensive Hebrew school system. Abraham's father was a barber, and his mother was a beautician. 1933-39: When Abraham was a kid his family used to go to his grandparents' house for Sunday dinner. In the winter they would take a…

    Tags: Kovno children
    Abraham Malnik
  • Kalman Kernweiss

    ID Card

    Kalman was the oldest of ten children born to poor, devout Jewish parents in a small village in south central Poland. His father supported the family by buying chickens, eggs and vegetables from the peasants and selling them at the Kolbuszowa market a few miles away. Kalman walked to Kolbuszowa each day to attend public school in the morning and religious school in the afternoon. 1933-39: In 1933 Kalman was accepted to study at a renowned rabbinical institute in Lublin. When there was time, he taught…

    Kalman Kernweiss
  • Abraham Bergman

    ID Card

    Abraham was born to a Jewish family in Krasnik, a town in the Lublin district of Poland. The town had a large Jewish population. Abraham's father was a tailor. When Abraham was 2, his mother died and he was raised by his grandmother. At the age of 7, Abraham started public school. 1933-39: Abraham liked school but found it difficult. The Christian children often yelled at the Jews, "You killed our God." One year, on the day before Christmas break, some kids brought ropes tied to iron weights to school.…

    Tags: Lublin
    Abraham Bergman
  • Eugeniusz Rozenblum

    ID Card

    Eugeniusz's parents married in 1922 in the Soviet Union, where his father owned a textile mill. Fearing arrest by the Soviets for being "bourgeois," Eugeniusz's parents fled to Poland, where Eugeniusz was born. 1933-39: Eugeniusz was a secondary school student and was preparing to enter university, either in Poland or at the Hebrew University in Palestine. The German occupation of Lodz in September 1939 interrupted his schooling. One month after the occupation, a German soldier came to his family's door…

    Tags: Lodz Dachau
    Eugeniusz Rozenblum
  • Walter Szczeniak

    ID Card

    Walter was the oldest of eight children born to Polish-Catholic immigrant parents in a town near Boston, Massachusetts. The family moved back to Poland when Walter was a child, and lived on a family farm near Ostroleka in northern Poland that Walter's mother had inherited. Because his father's American nickname was "Stetson," Walter was mistakenly registered as "Charles Stetson" on his American birth certificate. 1933-39: After Walter completed secondary school, his father sent him to the University of…

    Tags: Auschwitz
    Walter Szczeniak
  • Yitzhak (Irving) Balsam

    ID Card

    Yitzhak was the second of four children born to religious Jewish parents. The family lived on the Polish-German border in Praszka, a small town where Yitzhak's father worked as a tailor. His work was not steady, and the family struggled to make ends meet. Yitzhak attended Polish public school in the mornings and Hebrew school in the afternoons. 1933-39: At 4 a.m. on September 1, 1939, the Balsams were awakened by an explosion. The Polish army had blown up the bridge over the Prosna River to impede the…

    Yitzhak (Irving) Balsam

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