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Zelda Piekarska

Sosnowiec, Poland

Zelda was born to a close-knit Jewish family in Sosnowiec, a city in the coal-mining region of Poland. Her father owned a restaurant and also co-owned a chocolate and candy factory. Zelda loved to dance; she was an excellent tap dancer.

1933-39: On September 4, 1939, the Germans entered Sosnowiec. My family was at Father's store when the German tanks rolled down the street. I saw people lying on the ground but didn't understand why. My mother told me they were dead. Later, the Germans forced Father to close his stores and we were sent to Srodula, the ghetto in Sosnowiec. The Germans seized our valuables and we were moved into a tiny space with other families.

1940-44: On Saturday, June 26, 1943, the Germans assembled us in the town square. They pulled me from my family by my hair, telling me, "We will be very good to you. We're going to have a wonderful time." They put me on a cattle car bound for a labor camp at Breslau-Guentherbruecke in Germany. I was assigned to work as a mechanic, but my manager realized I knew nothing about cars. He wanted me killed, but a sympathetic German soldier intervened and the next day I was put on another detail.

Zelda spent two more years in labor camps. She was liberated on May 8, 1945, by the Soviet army. She spent four years in Germany and then emigrated to America in 1949.

 

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