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  • World War I


    The experiences of World War I and its aftermath would profoundly shape the attitudes and actions of leaders and ordinary people during the Holocaust.

    World War I
  • The Eastern Front: The German War against the Soviet Union


    Often referred to as the “eastern front,” the German-Soviet theater of war was the largest and deadliest of World War II. Learn more about the background and key events.

    The Eastern Front: The German War against the Soviet Union
  • Laura Litwak

    ID Card

    Laura was the second of five children born to religious Jewish parents in the industrial city of Lvov. She was often called affectionately by her nickname, Lorka. Coming from an educated family living in a multi-ethnic part of Poland, she grew up speaking Polish, Russian, German and Yiddish. As a young woman, she earned a humanities degree from St. Nicholas University in Lvov. 1933-39: In April 1935 Laura became Mrs. Daniel Schwarzwald. Her husband was a successful lumber exporter, and they lived in a…

    Laura Litwak
  • Yosel Coller

    ID Card

    One of six children, Yosel was raised in a religious Jewish family in Lodz, an industrial city in western Poland. His father was a businessman. At the age of 6, Yosel began attending a Jewish day school. His two older sisters attended public school in the morning and religious school in the afternoon. Yosel spent much of his free time playing soccer with his brothers. 1933-39: Yosel's family lived in a modest house in the northern section of Lodz. He went to a Jewish day school and had many friends there.…

    Yosel Coller
  • Wilek Loew

    ID Card

    Wilek was the son of Jewish parents living in Lvov, a large city in southeastern Poland. His family owned and operated a honeywine winery. Although they lived amongst Poles and Ukrainians, Wilek's family spoke Hebrew, German and Polish at home and were among Lvov's Jewish intelligentsia. When Wilek was 4, his father died of a heart attack. 1933-39: Jews were often discriminated against in Poland. They found it hard to gain access to schools and jobs. In 1939 Wilek managed to pass the entrance exam and…

    Tags: Lvov Auschwitz
    Wilek Loew
  • Ruth Warter

    ID Card

    Ruth lived in Uzliekniai, a village in the Memelland, a region in southwestern Lithuania ruled by Germany until 1919. An avid reader, Ruth was distressed by news of postwar political turmoil. In 1923, when Uzliekniai became part of Lithuania, she joined the Jehovah's Witnesses. She married Eduard Warter, another Jehovah's Witness, in 1928. They had four children over the next five years. 1933-39: Ruth was busy raising her children and making sure they did their Bible studies. On March 22, 1939, the German…

    Ruth Warter
  • Golda (Olga) Bancic

    ID Card

    Olga was born to a large Jewish family living in the Bessarabia province when it was still part of the Russian Empire. In 1918 the province was annexed by Romania. When Olga was 12 years old, she was arrested for the first time for having participated in a strike at the mattress factory where she worked. Despite her youth, she was put in prison and beaten. 1933-39: Olga was an active and vocal member of the local workers' organization. She had been arrested and imprisoned so often that she simply…

    Tags: Romania France
    Golda (Olga) Bancic
  • Boria Lerner

    ID Card

    Boria was born to a Jewish family living in the Bessarabian province when it was still a part of the Russian Empire. Following Romania's 1918 annexation of the province, life for Bessarabia's 200,000 Jews worsened. Subject to more widespread antisemitic laws and pogroms than while under Tsarist Russian rule, many Bessarabian Jews emigrated overseas or sought refuge back in Soviet villages. 1933-39: Boria became active in a local revolutionary communist group and was arrested and jailed many times. After…

    Boria Lerner
  • Sara Galperin

    ID Card

    Sara, born Sara Bernstein, was one of six children in a Jewish family in the Lithuanian village of Karchai. Her father was a farmer. Sara attended secondary school in Jonava and in 1920 she moved to Siauliai, where she met and married Pinchas Galperin. The couple owned and ran a dairy store, selling butter, milk and cheese. They had three children--two sons and a daughter. 1933-39: In addition to running the family store and rising early every morning to buy dairy products from the local farmers, Sara was…

    Tags: Lithuania
    Sara Galperin
  • Zdenka Popper

    ID Card

    Zdenka was one of four children born to a Jewish family in Kolinec, a southwestern Bohemian town near the German border. Her father was a farmer and a lumber and grain merchant. Situated in the foothills of the Bohemian Forest, Kolinec was surrounded by rolling hills. Zdenka attended business school in the nearby town of Klatovy and, in 1927, moved to Prague with her uncle. 1933-39: Zdenka remembers how worried her mother was about the rise of German antisemitism in 1932. After listening to a radio…

    Zdenka Popper

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