Gerda S.

I was born in Przemysl, Poland, but after the Russians occupied Eastern Poland, we moved in to Lwow, to avoid being sent to camps in Russia. My father was a business man and was considered “an enemy of the state”.

The Germans occupied our area in June of 1941 and we were forced into a ghetto by the fall of that year. During a long and severe Action in July of 1942, my father managed to send me into hiding in the arian section of the city.I spent 6 weeks in a dark cellar, not being able to move or make any noise.

When I returned to the ghetto, my mother and younger cousin were gone. They were sent to Belzec concentration camp, from which no one ever returned. Within 2 months, the ghetto was being liquidated and again my father desperately tried to save my life.

He found a Polish woman, who was starving together with her children. She was willing to hide me for money. Also, she had an illegitemate child, who died in infancy, but our ages corresponded, so I became her “daughter”. And that is the way I survived the war, pretending she was my mother and acting like a dutiful daughter. She wanted me to remain with her forever, since I was her maid, cook, nursemaid etc.

At the end of 1945, I gathered all my courage and left her, despite her anger. My parents and 35 of my closest relatives perished at the hands of the Germans.

In March of 1946 I was very lucky to leave Poland and joined a transport of war orphans, under a leadership of a British Rabbi, who had pemission to bring a group of young people like myself, to England. Within a year I mastered enough English to enroll in the Nurses Programe and in the fall of 1950, I became a Registerd Nurse.

I arrived in the United States in July 1951, and started working as a nurse in Brooklyn and later in Manhattan. I married in 1955 and in the summer of 1956 we arrived in California and settled in Long Beach. Our 3 children were born here, and my husband who is a physician is in practice to this day.

I have been lecturing about the Holocaust to students in schools and to organizations for the past 30 years. I feel it is of the utmost importance, that we lecture as long as we can, so the younger generations can hear about our own experiences and learn the truth.

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