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world war I

  • Carl Heumann

    ID Card

    Carl was one of nine children born to Jewish parents living in a village near the Belgian border. When Carl was 26, he married Joanna Falkenstein and they settled down in a house across the street from his father's cattle farm. Carl ran a small general store on the first floor of their home. The couple had two daughters, Margot and Lore.

    1933-39: Carl has moved his family to the city of Bielefeld, where he is working for a Jewish relief organization. Requests from this area's Jews to leave Germany have multiplied since a night last November [Kristallnacht] when the Nazis smashed windows of Jewish stores and burned synagogues all over Germany. Unfortunately, the United States and other countries have immigration quotas so that only a fraction of the Jewish refugees can get visas.

    1940-44: Carl and his family have been deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. As a special privilege, they have been sent here rather than to a concentration camp further to the east because Carl earned the German Iron Cross in World War I. Still, the threat of deportation to a camp hangs over them daily, and they are always hungry. Their 15-year-old, Margot, has been assigned to a detail that leaves the ghetto each day to work on a farm: Sometimes she smuggles back vegetables to them by hiding them under her blouse.

    In May 1944 Carl was caught stealing food, and he and his family were deported to Auschwitz. Everyone is believed to have perished there except Margot, who survived the war.

    Carl Heumann
  • Zalie Waldhorn

    ID Card

    Zalie was the second of three children born to immigrant Jewish parents. Her Polish-born father was a former officer in the Austro-Hungarian army who had met and married her Hungarian-born mother during World War I. Shortly before Zalie was born, her parents settled in Paris. There, Zalie and her brother and sister grew up in a religious household.

    1933-39: Zalie's mother said it was better in Paris than in the poor village in which she grew up. Her mother spoke broken French, but Zalie grew up speaking French fluently. At elementary school they learned all about French history. She wasn't afraid of Hitler. Her father said that the terrible things happening to Jews in Germany wouldn't happen to them in France.

    1940-44: Zalie was almost 13 when the Germans occupied Paris in 1940. In 1942 her father was deported with other Polish-born Jews. Then her mother was deported. After that, Zalie left Paris with false papers that hid her Jewish identity. She became 16-year-old Zalie Guerin. With her light hair, blue eyes and fluent French, she passed as a non-Jewish French citizen. In the town of Alencon she worked as a secretary, but after a year, she was discovered to be a Jew and arrested. The Germans beat her up; they seemed ashamed she'd fooled them for so long.

    Zalie, 17, was deported to Auschwitz in a children's convoy on July 31, 1944. She survived the concentration camps, and returned to live in Paris after the war.

    Zalie Waldhorn
  • Chaje Isakovic Adler

    ID Card

    The youngest of 11 children, Chaje was raised by religious, Yiddish-speaking Jewish parents in a village in Czechoslovakia's easternmost province. At the age of 12, she was apprenticed to a men's tailor. In the 1920s she married Jermie Adler from Selo-Solotvina. Together, they moved to Liege, Belgium, where they raised three daughters and she continued to work as a tailor.

    1933-39: Chaje's customers called her the "Polish tailor." Raising her children as Jews in the largely Catholic city of Liege did not pose a problem. The family spoke Yiddish at home, and Chaje made sure that her children studied Hebrew. When war broke out in Poland in September 1939, Chaje was fearful because it brought back troubling memories of her village being overrun during World War I.

    1940-44: The Germans conquered Belgium in May 1940. Two years later, Chaje's family was ordered by the Nazis to register. Catholic friends managed to obtain false papers for the Adlers and rent them a house in a nearby village. On Sunday, March 5, 1944, while her husband and eldest daughter were away, the Gestapo came to the door at 5 a.m. They had been told there was a Jewish family at that house. Chaje tried to insist that the children were not hers, hoping they would be spared, but the Gestapo arrested them all.

    On May 19, 1944, Chaje was deported from the Mechelen internment camp to Auschwitz with her two daughters and a nephew. They were gassed two days later.

    Chaje Isakovic Adler
  • Herman Judelowitz

    ID Card

    Herman was the oldest of nine children born to a Jewish family in the Latvian village of Aizpute. He was a World War I veteran, and after the conflict, in 1918, he fought for the establishment of a free Latvian republic. Two years later he married Sarah Gamper and they settled in the city of Liepaja, where they owned a shoe store. By the late 1920s they had two daughters, Fanny and Jenny.

    1933-39: Herman designed patterns for the uppers of shoes, which he used to fashion into finished shoes. His shoe store was in front of the workshop. In 1935 Herman and Sarah had a third daughter, Liebele. Both Sarah and Herman were Zionists and they often collected money to help Jewish settlers purchase land in Palestine.

    1940-41: In June 1940 the Soviet Union occupied Latvia. The Soviets seized Herman's business and nationalized it, but Herman was forced to continue running his business. In June 1941 Germany invaded Latvia, and quickly reached Liepaja. The Germans immediately began roundups of Jewish males in the city, ostensibly for conscript labor details: none of these men ever returned. A month later, an order was issued for men of working age to report to the city square. Herman reported to the city square.

    In late July 1941, Herman and the rest of the men in his group were taken north to the village of Skeden. There they were shot and dumped into mass graves.

    Tags: Latvia
    Herman Judelowitz
  • Betty Leiter Lauchheimer

    ID Card

    Betty was one of 14 children born to a religious Jewish family in Aufhausen, a village in southwestern Germany. Her father was a successful cattle dealer in the area. On May 8, 1903, at age 20, Betty married Max Lauchheimer, a cattle merchant and kosher butcher. They lived in a large house by an orchard in the village of Jebenhausen. Betty and Max had two children, Regina and Karl.

    1933-39: In late 1938 Betty and Max were visiting their daughter in Kippenheim when police arrested Max and their son-in-law. Hoodlums stoned the house, shattering the windows. Betty, her daughter, and granddaughter hid until it was quiet. Later, they learned that the town's Jewish men had been deported to the Dachau concentration camp; three weeks later, Max and his son-in-law returned home. That May, Max died of a heart attack.

    1940-41: Regina's family moved into Betty's home in Jebenhausen. Many anti-Jewish laws went into effect: Jews couldn't use the bus; Jews had to wear yellow stars; Jews couldn't travel. In late 1941 the household was ordered to report for "resettlement in the east." Betty's son-in-law appealed to the local Gestapo to spare them, hoping they might listen sympathetically because he was a disabled World War I veteran. Though they granted his appeal, it did not extend to Betty. She was forced to report for the transport.

    Betty was deported in early December to Riga, Latvia. In the Rumbula Forest near Riga, Betty was shot in a mass execution of Jews.

    Tags: Dachau Riga
    Betty Leiter Lauchheimer
  • Wilhelm Edelstein

    ID Card

    Wilhelm was the oldest of two children in a Jewish family living in the Habsburg capital of Vienna. Shortly after Wilhelm was born, World War I broke out. Because of food shortages, Wilhelm and his mother left for her hometown of Hostoun, near Prague. After the war they returned to Vienna where his father had remained to run his shoe business. As a young man, Wilhelm worked for his father.

    1933-39: In March 1938 Germany annexed Austria. Soon after, the Germans arrested Wilhelm because he was a Jew dating a Christian woman, an act forbidden under Nazi law. Released on the condition that he leave Austria within 30 days, Wilhelm, with a Jewish friend, traveled to the Czechoslovakian border. After several aborted attempts he crossed the frontier illegally. Wilhelm went on to Prague where he stayed with relatives.

    1940-44: In 1941 Wilhelm was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, and then to Riga, Latvia, where he was put in charge of a group of prisoners peeling potatoes in the ghetto's "German section" for Jews from the Reich. He was then deported to several other camps and eventually to Troeglitz, a subcamp of Buchenwald. There, he made contact with a Christian villager from outside the camp. The man often traveled to Vienna and managed to bring back bread from Wilhelm's aunt and smuggle it in to Wilhelm.

    In March 1945 Wilhelm was deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He died only a few weeks before the camp was liberated by the British army on April 15, 1945.

    Wilhelm Edelstein
  • Channah Mazansky-Zaidel

    ID Card

    Channah was one of six children born to a Jewish family. In 1914, a year after her father died, the family fled during World War I to Russia. After the war they returned to Lithuania and settled in the village of Pampenai in a house owned by Channah's grandparents. When Channah's three oldest siblings moved to South Africa in the 1920s, Channah helped support the family by sewing.

    1933-39: Channah was working as a seamstress in Pampenai when, in the mid 1930s, she met and married Channoch Zaidel. The couple, who continued to live in Pampenai, had one child. In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. At the time, Lithuania was still a free nation.

    1940-41: Within days of the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, German troops had overrun the area around Pampenai. In late summer 1941, German troops approached the village, in an action that was part of a Nazi plan to eliminate Lithuania's Jews. Before the troops arrived, however, groups of armed Lithuanian collaborators herded Pampenai's Jews to a nearby forest and then forced them to dig trenches and strip naked. The Jews were then ordered to climb into the trenches and were machine-gunned.

    Channah, Channoch, and their child were killed, along with Channa's mother, Sara Rachel, her twin brother, Moishe, and her younger brother, Chaim. Channah was 33.

    Channah Mazansky-Zaidel
  • Nikola Mrvos

    ID Card

    The oldest of five children, Nikola was born in a small village in the Croatian part of Yugoslavia. Like his parents, Nikola was baptized in the Serbian Orthodox faith. After receiving his medical degree from Prague University, he married, and in 1912 moved with his wife to Serbia. During World War I he served in the Serbian army, and then settled in Novi Sad where he co-owned a medical clinic.

    1933-39: Nikola and his wife raised three children in Novi Sad. Then difficult times brought on by the 1930s economic depression forced Nikola to close his medical clinic. The Mrvos family moved to the Croatian city of Zagreb, where Nikola found employment as the director of medical services for Yugoslavia's newly established health insurance administration.

    1940-41: The Germans invaded Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941. Four days later, they entered Zagreb and Croatian fascists [Ustase] came to power. Because of anti-Serb discrimination, Nikola was arrested by Croatian fascists on April 12 and imprisoned in Kerestinec Castle outside Zagreb. During the night of July 13, some communist prisoners escaped. As a result, the police closed the prison down and transferred the prisoners to a Croatian concentration camp in the south in Gospic. Shortly after, they were transferred to a camp at Jadovno.

    In August 1941 in Jadovno, Croatian fascists killed Nikola and threw his body into a limestone cave along with those of hundreds of murdered Serbs, Jews and communists.

    Tags: Yugoslavia
    Nikola Mrvos
  • Wolfgang Lachman

    ID Card

    Wolfgang was the only son of observant Jewish parents living in Berlin. Though trained as a mechanical engineer, Wolfgang's father ran a wholesale kerchief and handkerchief business that he had taken over from his father-in-law. Wolfgang's family lived in an apartment above the business. They enjoyed vacationing at their country home in Neuenhagen, a suburb of Berlin.

    1933-39: Wolfgang began school when he was 5; that year Hitler was named leader of Germany. Every morning they had to sing three songs: the German anthem, the anthem of Hitler's party and a song about reclaiming German land lost in World War I. In 1938 his mother died of cancer. That same year, there were riots against the Jews. His father's store was marked with paint and a soldier stood outside telling people not to shop in Jewish stores.

    1940-44: Wolfgang's father died in 1940. He lived with his grandmother until 1942, when they were sent to the Riga ghetto. When he was 14 he was assigned to sort German uniforms. Once he stole shoes to replace the ones he'd worn every day since leaving Berlin, and which had gotten too small and had practically no soles left. But he was caught and taken to the commander, who beat him. He sentenced Wolfgang to be shot, but then changed his mind. Wolfgang was issued wooden shoes, and had to carry an iron bar up and down four flights of stairs 100 times as punishment.

    Wolfgang was deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at age 16. He was liberated by the British army in April 1945 and immigrated to the United States in 1946.

    Wolfgang Lachman
  • Jenine Gutman

    ID Card

    Jenine was the younger of two daughters born to Jewish parents. They lived in a small city with a large Jewish population in central Moldavia. Her father, a veteran of World War I, came from a large family and Jenine had more than 15 aunts and uncles, all living in Bacau. This extended family helped raise Jenine and her sister Sofia while their parents ran a grocery store.

    1933-39: Just like every child her age, Jenine belonged to a national youth organization headed by Prince Michael. They wore special uniforms with berets and leather belts, and held patriotic rallies in the stadium. Jenine's father became ill; business suffered and he lost his store and everything that they owned. In 1938, they moved to the national capital, Bucharest, where her father got a new job as a factory clerk and Jenine went to a new school.

    1940-44: The fascist Iron Guard was now in power, but Jenine's patriotism no longer made any difference. Because she was Jewish, she was forced out of public school. Although makeshift, their Jewish schools had excellent teachers; Jenine chose to study bookbinding. After Jews were excluded from public hospitals, a Jewish clinic was organized in Bucharest. Jenine worked in its cafeteria. New restrictions were imposed. There were pogroms. The government made her family provide clothing and bedding to the Romanian army.

    Jenine was liberated by the Soviet army in August 1944. She continued to live in Romania until 1976, when she immigrated with her family to the United States.

    Jenine Gutman

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