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world war I

  • Kornelia Mahrer Deutsch

    ID Card

    Kornelia was known as Nelly. She was the older of two daughters raised by Jewish parents in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Her father fought in the Hungarian army during World War I. Kornelia attended public school and later worked as a bookkeeper for a soap factory. In 1928 she married Miksa Deutsch, a businessman who sold matches.

    1933-39: Kornelia's husband was religious and the Deutsches' three children attended Jewish schools. Miksa and his brother were the sole distributors in Hungary of Swedish-made matches, and the business prospered. In May 1939 the Hungarian government began to limit the number of Jews who could be employed in a business, forcing the Deutsches to fire some of their Jewish employees.

    1940-44: In 1940 Miksa was conscripted into the Hungarian army's labor service. Later, he was forced to surrender control of the family business to a brother of the Hungarian prime minister. After Germany occupied Budapest in March 1944, Jews were ordered to move to special houses marked with a Jewish star. In October 1944, Hungarian fascists began rounding up Jews from these houses. Kornelia was offered a job at an orphanage through the Swiss embassy. But on November 15, before she could take the job, she was rounded up.

    Kornelia escaped detention, but was recaptured and deported to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp in Germany, where she perished. Her three children survived the war.

    Kornelia Mahrer Deutsch
  • Irene Freund

    ID Card

    The younger of two children, Irene was born to Jewish parents in the industrial city of Mannheim. Her father, a wounded German army veteran of World War I, was an interior decorator. Her mother was a housewife. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Irene's older brother, Berthold, was attending public school. Three-year-old Irene was at home with her mother.

    1933-39: Celebrating Jewish holidays with all of Irene's aunts and uncles was really nice. One of her favorite places was the zoo; she especially liked the monkeys. When the Nazis forced Jewish children out of public school, she began attending a Jewish school. Irene was "a daddy's girl," and her father would take her home from school on his bike. After the Nazis burned their school, her older brother left for safety in Britain--she was too young to go with him.

    1940-44: In 1940, when Irene was 10, her family was sent to Gurs and then Rivesaltes, terrible camps in southern France. The food was awful. The Jewish Children's Aid Society took Irene away and placed her in a Catholic convent along with 13 other Jewish girls. She became Irene Fanchet and studied under Sister Theresa. One day, the SS came to their convent looking for hidden German-Jewish children. One of the girls, who was fluent in French, did the talking for everyone else. It worked. The Germans left, and they were safe.

    Thirteen-year-old Irene was freed by Allied troops in July 1944. After being transferred to several children's homes in France, she immigrated to the United States in 1947.

    Irene Freund
  • Yennj Baehr

    ID Card

    Yennj and her husband Heinrich were two of a few Jewish residents in Ruchheim, a small town in the Rhine River valley. Yennj helped Heinrich run their dry goods store that was on the first floor of their house. In the summer she liked working in the garden out back. Their son, Kurt, had immigrated to America after World War I. Ida, their daughter, helped them in the store until she married.

    1933-39: The Nazis have come to power, and many Jews have decided to leave Germany. Yennj and Heinrich's niece, Luise, recently sailed for America. Luise used to visit them every summer and was like a younger sister to their Ida. Yennj and Heinrich have thought about leaving Germany, but can't do it without taking Ida and their granddaughter, Freya. Anyway, Ida's husband doesn't want to leave his business. And who would sponsor them all to come to America?

    1940-42: Yennj and Heinrich, with Ida and her family, have already been deported to two detention camps in southern France. When they arrived at the first one, Gurs, it was winter--cold and rainy--and they had only straw to sleep on. Six-year-old Freya came down with a high fever and severe earache and almost died. Now, at Rivesaltes, there's a chance to get Freya out of the camp to safety through an aid society (Children's Aid Society) that arranges to hide children with French families in the countryside. They all say goodbye to Freya.

    In September 1942, a few days after Freya left the camp, 55-year-old Yennj, her husband and her daughter were deported to Auschwitz, where they perished. Freya survived the war.

    Tags: Auschwitz Gurs
    Yennj Baehr
  • Heinrich Baehr

    ID Card

    A Jewish merchant, Heinrich ran a dry goods business with his wife, Yennj, in Ruchheim, a small town in the Rhine River valley. Their son, Kurt, had immigrated to America after World War I. Their daughter, Ida, had helped them in the business until she married. The Baehrs' store took up the first floor of their comfortable two-story brick house. In the summer, they enjoyed their garden in the back.

    1933-39: The Nazis have come to power, and many Jews have decided to leave Germany. Heinrich and Yennj's niece, Luise, recently sailed for America. Luise used to visit them every summer and was like a younger sister to Ida. Heinrich and Yennj have thought about leaving Germany, but couldn't do it without taking Ida and their granddaughter, Freya. Anyway, Ida's husband doesn't want to leave his business. And who would sponsor them all to come to America?

    1940-42: Heinrich and Yennj, with Ida and her family, have already been deported to two detention camps in southern France. When they arrived at the first one, Gurs, it was winter--cold and rainy--and they had only straw to sleep on. Six-year-old Freya came down with a high fever and severe earache and almost died. Now, at Rivesaltes, her parents have a chance to get Freya out of the camp to safety through an aid society that arranges to hide children with French families in the countryside. They all wish Freya goodbye.

    In September 1942, a few days after Freya left the camp, 64-year-old Heinrich, his wife and his daughter were deported to Auschwitz, where they perished. Freya survived the war.

    Heinrich Baehr
  • Helene Gotthold

    ID Card

    Helene lived in Herne and Bochum in western Germany, where she was married to a coal miner who was unemployed between 1927 and 1938. Following their disillusionment with the Lutheran Church during World War I, Helene, who was a nurse, and her husband became Jehovah's Witnesses in 1926. Together, they raised their two children according to the teachings of the Scripture.

    1933-39: Under the Nazis, Jehovah's Witnesses were persecuted for their missionary work and because they believed their sole allegiance was to God and His Commandments. Some of the Gottholds' neighbors refused to have anything to do with them. Helene's husband was arrested in 1936. After searching her house, the Gestapo arrested her in 1937; she was beaten with rods and lost her unborn baby. The court gave her an 18-month sentence.

    1940-44: Helene and her husband were released and the Gotthold family was reunited. Helene and her husband were rearrested in February 1944. They were imprisoned in Essen, but when the prison was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid, they were transferred to a prison in Potsdam. On August 4, the People's Court sentenced Helene and five other Witnesses to death for illegally holding Bible meetings and undermining the nation's morale. Before her execution, Helene was allowed to write a letter to her husband and children.

    Helene was executed by guillotine in Berlin's Ploetzensee Prison on December 8, 1944. Her family survived and resumed their Jehovah's Witness missionary work in Germany.

    Helene Gotthold
  • Ernst Reiter

    ID Card

    Ernst was an only child born to atheist parents in southern Austria during the middle of World War I. Raised in Austria's second largest city, he loved the outdoors, especially skiing in the Alps. In the early 1930s Ernst became a Jehovah's Witness. Although Austria was then in a deep economic depression, he was fortunate to find a job as a sales clerk in a grocery store.

    1933-39: Austria's Catholic government was hostile towards Jehovah's Witnesses. When the Germans annexed Austria in March 1938, their activities were banned. Following God's commandments, Ernst refused to give the Hitler salute and to serve in the German army. He was arrested for this on September 6, 1938, and sentenced to six months imprisonment. When he again refused to serve, he was imprisoned in the Bayreuth penitentiary in Germany.

    1940-44: When Ernst's second prison term ended in November 1939, he was transferred to the relatively new Flossenbürg concentration camp. His number was 1935; he was forced to be a stonemason, and subjected to brutal treatment, including attempts to break his faith in God. But Ernst believed God's power was far greater than anything the Nazis could do to him. He felt the Jewish, Polish, and Soviet prisoners had it far worse than he did. The only way the Jewish prisoners got out of there was "through the chimney."

    Ernst survived Flossenbürg and a forced march in April 1945. He was liberated by American troops and bicycled back to his home in Austria during the summer of 1945.

    Ernst Reiter
  • Bruna Sevini

    ID Card

    Bruna was the oldest of two children born to Italian-speaking Jewish parents who had settled in the cosmopolitan city of Trieste. Her father, born in Vienna, served in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I. He became a naturalized Italian during the 1920s after marrying Bruna's mother. Growing up in fascist Italy, Bruna attended public schools in Trieste and felt proud to be an Italian.

    1933-39: In September 1938 Bruna was surprised to see anti-Jewish graffiti. Then anti-Jewish race laws were announced. She was expelled from her public secondary school and her father was fired from his job. Circumstances forced Bruna into a new, private Jewish school organized by fired Jewish professors, with small classes and excellent teachers. Ironically, her exams and diploma were fully accredited by the Italian state.

    1940-44: Bruna and her family were glad when Mussolini fell from power in July 1943, but his fall led to the German occupation of Italy. They fled south but were caught in a roundup. Awaiting deportation to Germany, Bruna attended a Christmas Mass in their prison. The Bishop of Rimini told her not to despair and to believe in miracles. Three days later the prison was hit during an air raid. They escaped to a convent south of Rimini and discovered that the bishop had instructed the convent to give shelter to refugees with no questions or payment asked.

    Bruna was liberated at the convent by British troops on September 23, 1944, the day after her twenty-first birthday.

    Tags: Italy
    Bruna Sevini
  • 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
  • Rosa Israel Waldhorn

    ID Card

    Rosa was one of 14 children born to religious Jewish parents in the village of Yasinya at a time when it was known as Korosmezo and was part of Hungary. During World War I, she married Michael von Hoppen Waldhorn, an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army who was based near Yasinya. During the 1920s they moved to Paris, where they raised three children.

    1933-39: The Waldhorn family's life in Paris was very different from their life in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Rosa's husband made a good living, and he felt that their children had better educational opportunities. Confident that France was strong enough to defend itself from the Germans, the Waldhorns felt safe in Paris.

    1940-44: Germany quickly defeated France in 1940 and occupied Paris on June 14. At first, Rosa, who enjoyed the protection of Hungarian citizenship, was safe from the threat of deportation by the Nazis. But after her husband was rounded up in July 1942 and deported along with other Polish-born Jews, Rosa went into hiding in an attic in Paris and her children went into hiding in the countryside.

    Rosa was denounced by an informant, and was deported from Paris on September 2, 1943. She was gassed in Auschwitz two days later. Rosa was 56 years old.

    Rosa Israel Waldhorn
  • 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
  • Wladyslaw Tadeusz Surmacki

    ID Card

    Born to Catholic parents, Wladyslaw attended schools in Warsaw and earned a degree in survey engineering in Moscow in 1914. After fighting in World War I, he commanded a horse artillery division in Warsaw, worked for Poland's Military Geographic Institute, and taught topography courses. He started a family in 1925, and after he retired from the army in 1929 he founded a surveying company.

    1933-39: When war with Germany became imminent in the summer of 1939, Wladyslaw volunteered to fight but was rejected as too old. In early September, when Germany overwhelmed Poland's western defenses, he fled, hoping to fight in the defense of eastern Poland. In mid-September, a day before the Soviets invaded Poland, he was given a chance to leave the country and go to Great Britain but chose to stay and fight with the Polish resistance.

    1940-42: Wladyslaw became chief of staff of TAP, one of the groups of the Polish underground. In the summer of 1940 he was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. As prisoner #2759 he worked as a surveying engineer in the camp's construction office. His work enabled him to go outside the camp. He used his status to smuggle letters and, by October, to help organize a military underground. In November 1941 he was released on the intercession of a former German engineering colleague, but was immediately rearrested and put in Warsaw's Pawiak Prison.

    Wladyslaw was taken to a forest near Magdalenka and machine-gunned along with 223 Poles on May 28, 1942. They were buried in mass graves and later moved to the local cemetery.

    Wladyslaw Tadeusz Surmacki
  • Julian Noga

    ID Card

    Although Julian's Polish Catholic parents had immigrated to the United States before World War I, his mother had returned to Poland and Julian was born in a village not far from the large town of Tarnow in southern Poland. Julian was raised in Skrzynka by his mother on her four-acre farm while his father remained in the United States.

    1933-39: At 16 Julian left home and worked as a dishwasher in an elegant Jewish club in downtown Tarnow. When the Germans invaded in September 1939, he returned to his village. There, 27 of Skrzynka's Jews--people Julian knew--were forced to dig their own graves and then shot. In some nearby woods he found and hid a rifle abandoned by a retreating Polish soldier. But Julian was betrayed, and deported to Austria to do farm labor for a rich landowner near Linz.

    1940-44: Julian fell in love with Frieda, the landowner's daughter, and she loved him too. When her father objected, she moved to another farm. They continued to meet secretly even though Nazi law forbad romance between Poles and Germans. The Gestapo warned Julian, "If you see Frieda again, you're going to be hanged." He was reassigned to another farm, but they continued to see one another until he was arrested on September 19, 1941. He was imprisoned nearby, then transferred to Flossenbürg to do backbreaking work at a quarry.

    Julian was liberated on April 23, 1945, while on a forced march out of Flossenbürg. Reunited after the war, Julian and Frieda married and immigrated to the United States.

    Julian Noga
  • Erzsebeth Buchsbaum

    ID Card

    Erzsebeth was raised in Budapest, where her Polish-born Jewish parents had lived since before World War I. Her father, a brush salesman, fought for the Austro-Hungarian forces in that war. The Buchsbaums' apartment was in the same building as a movie house. There was a small alcove in the apartment, and Erzsebeth's brother, Herman, made a hole in the wall so that they could watch the films.

    1933-39: Every summer Erzsebeth, Herman, and their mother took a special trip to Stebnik, Poland, to visit Grandma. Their father stayed back to work. Erzsebeth loved Grandma's village. They'd walk near the train station and smell the flowers. Erzsebeth would play with Grandma's dog, Reyfus, and sometimes they would travel by horse and buggy to the nearby spa, where a band played and people sat and sipped drinks. In 1938 when Germany annexed Austria [the Anschluss], Herman immigrated to America.

    1940-44: Since they were Polish-born, Erzsebeth and her family had to leave Hungary in 1941 when all "foreigners" were forced out. They went to Kolomyja [Kolomyia], Poland, where a ghetto was imposed in 1942. Thousands were killed, and by summer Erzsebeth decided to escape back to Hungary. A smuggler took their small group through the woods. They slept by day and walked all night. On the 12th day, they heard a German shout: "Get up!" After Erzsebeth crawled into a hollow tree trunk, she heard shooting and voices crying "No!" Then it was silent. The smuggler had been wounded. The others were dead.

    Erzsebeth escaped Hungarian work camps and many brushes with death before liberation in 1945. She moved to the United States in 1951.

    Erzsebeth Buchsbaum
  • 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 which he received a pittance--only 37 cents a day. After the Nazis rampaged on November 10, 1938, destroying synagogues and holy books and smashing Jewish store windows during Kristallnacht (the "Night of Broken Glass"), Lutz was deported with many other Jews to a forced-labor camp outside Berlin. There, they were kept in leg irons and put to work repairing train tracks.

    1940-44: After two years of forced labor, Lutz became too weak to work. The commandant condemned him to an underground bunker where few survived more than a day. An SS general who was present when Lutz was condemned had been a classmate of his before the war. Privately he told Lutz, "I remember you. You helped me start my stamp collection. Now I'd like to help you." "General," Lutz said, "Do what you have to." He replied, "If I do that, you'll never see daylight again." Through his connections, he arranged his way to Shanghai.

    Lutz arrived in Shanghai in late 1940. There, he published a newspaper with war information obtained from the Soviet news agency and radio reports. He immigrated to Canada in 1949.

    Lutz Haase
  • Beno Helmer

    ID Card

    Beno was the oldest of three children in a Jewish family. His mother, originally from Austria, came to Czechoslovakia after World War I. Beno's father, a Swedish Jew, arrived there in search of work and became a successful merchant. The German-speaking Helmer home was frequently full of guests. Every day some students from the local rabbinical academy were invited to join the family for a meal.

    1933-39: Beno's parents sent him to Budapest to attend high school. Later, because of his talent with languages, Beno got a job as an extra in movies. Each scene was shot in German and Hungarian; since Beno was fluent in both, he was always on the set. After his parents fled to Budapest to evade the Nazis, they tried to bribe a Hungarian official to help them. But this backfired; Beno and his parents were deported to Poland. He ended up in Lodz, just before war broke out.

    1940-44: They were always hungry in the Lodz ghetto. People were dying all around them. In the ghetto Beno worked scooping out cesspools with a cooking pot. One day the Nazis took them into a home. They lined them up in a semicircle. One lady had a child. A Nazi asked, "Whose child is this?" Terrified, the mother did not admit that he was hers. He took the child by the legs and swung him against the wall, killing him. Paralyzed by fear, the mother looked on as if the child belonged to someone else.

    Beno survived the Theresienstadt ghetto, and the Auschwitz and Buchenwald camps. After the war he helped track down war criminals in Europe. In 1947 Beno settled in the United States.

    Beno Helmer
  • Karl-Heinz Kusserow

    ID Card

    Karl-Heinz was born during World War I, while his father was in the German army. After the war, his Lutheran parents became Jehovah's Witnesses and gave their children daily Bible lessons. When Karl-Heinz was 13, the family moved to the rustic Westphalian town of Bad Lippspringe. Their home became the headquarters of a new Jehovah's Witness congregation.

    1933-39: Because of the Jehovah's Witnesses' missionary work, and because their sole allegiance was to God and His commandments, their activities were banned by the Nazis. After 1936 the Kusserow's home was repeatedly searched and religious literature seized, and Karl-Heinz's parents were arrested more than once. The family continued to offer refuge to fellow Witnesses, and also continued to host Bible studies, illegally, in their home.

    1940-44: Karl-Heinz's brother was executed in April 1940 for refusing to serve in the German army, contending that such service violated God's commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." The Gestapo attended the funeral; seven weeks later they arrested Karl-Heinz because of a prayer he had said during the funeral. When he refused to give the Hitler salute, he was knocked down and beaten. He spent two months in prison, where he was tortured, and then was transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. After two years, he was sent to Dachau.

    Karl-Heinz was released from the Dachau camp in June 1945. Gravely ill with tuberculosis, he died in Bad Lippspringe the following year. He was 28 years old.

    Karl-Heinz Kusserow
  • Joseph von Hoppen Waldhorn

    ID Card

    Joseph was the youngest of three children born to immigrant Jewish parents. His Polish-born father was a former officer in the Austro-Hungarian army who had met and married Joseph's Hungarian-born mother during World War I. Joseph was raised in a religious household and grew up speaking French.

    1933-39: Joseph's mother says it's better here in Paris than in the poor village where she grew up. Unlike his mother, who speaks broken French, Joseph and his older sisters have grown up speaking French fluently. He attends a special public school funded by the Rothschild family. His father says that the terrible things happening to Jews in Germany won't happen to them here.

    1940-44: Joseph has fled Paris and is staying with the sister of a friend who is letting him hide on her farm in Sees in western France. About a year ago, when he was 9, German troops occupied Paris. At first, he wasn't in danger. Unlike his foreign-born parents who were subject to being immediately deported, Joseph was a French citizen. He fled Paris after the Germans deported his father in 1941. Joseph has false papers; his new name is Georges Guerin. His sisters also have false identities and have gotten office jobs in nearby Alencon.

    Joseph's sisters in Alencon were discovered and arrested. Joseph managed to remain concealed until the end of the war, and immigrated to the United States in 1949.

    Joseph von Hoppen Waldhorn

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