My Grandma Eva was born in Czestochowa, Poland in 1926. She was the youngest of three children. Her father Nussen, a woodcarver, worked in a small factory that made children’s toys. On September 3rd, 1939, the Germans invaded Czestochowa; my grandma was 13 years old. A ghetto was built up around the apartment building where her family lived. The Germans would often take her older brother Seymour to work outside the city, for weeks at a time. My grandma’s mother, Zelda, constantly worried that her son wouldn’t return and she soon became very ill. My great grandmother Zelda passed away while living in the ghetto.
On September 22, 1942, leaving their belongings behind, my grandma and her family were forced out of the ghetto into a smaller ghetto where they were all required to work. On many occasions my grandma was beaten, and in one instance she suffered a broken nose. In July of 1943 my grandma Eva woke up and went to look for her father. Unable to find him, she asked if anyone had seen him. She was told that during the night 300 men had been put up against a wall and shot, her father was one of them.
In January of 1945 everyone in the ghetto was packed onto trains. When the train stopped, they were at Bergen Belsen and my grandma and her sister Rose were separated from their brother. Life was harder in Bergen Belsen than my grandma could have ever imagined. At one point my grandma fainted, from lack of food. The German Soldiers assumed she was dead and threw her in a pile of corpses. When she finally woke up, confused and horrified, she ran away as fast as se could. My grandma and her sister also contracted typhus, which blinded my grandma for a period of time. While she was able to recover from the disease, her sister Rose was not as lucky. On April 1st Rose’s condition worsened and she passed away during the night. Two weeks later, the British and French soldiers arrived at Bergen Belsen, liberating the Jews.
My grandma eventually arrived at a displaced persons camp in Munich, Germany. Shortly after she arrived she was reunited with her brother Seymour, who had also miraculously survived the camps, and had been searching for his sisters. My grandma and my uncle were the only survivors of their family. On Saturday July 27, 1946, with the help of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, they arrived in America, at Pier 96 in New York City.