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Chava Cherniak Biber
April 20, 1916 | Chelm, Poland
Chava's mother died when she was 2, and Chava went to live with her grandfather, who was a rabbi in the village of Matsiov. Her grandfather's second wife welcomed Chava. After first studying at a Polish public school, Chava attended a Jewish day school. When Chava was a teenager her adopted grandmother died, and Chava took over managing her grandfather's household until he remarried.
1933-39: My grandfather's third wife was an unsympathetic woman. After she came to our home, I wanted to be independent and learn a trade, but my grandfather opposed this. I immersed myself in activities of the Young Pioneers, a Zionist organization, where I met Yakov Biber, whom I married in 1939. Our plans for the future were destroyed that year in the fall when the Soviets occupied eastern Poland.
1940-44: By 1941 the Germans had occupied the region [German-Soviet Pact] and, aided by the Ukrainian militia, began murdering the Jews. For several months Yakov and I and our 2-year-old son, Shalom, hid with the help of some local peasants. One Saturday afternoon, as we were hiding in the woods, we suddenly heard: "Run! Militia!" Bullets rained. Yakov picked up Shalom, grabbed me, and started to run. Shalom screamed and when Yakov tried to cover his mouth, he lost hold of me. As he turned to grab me again, a bullet hit Shalom, and our son fell.
Shalom was killed. For the next three years, Chava and Yakov remained in hiding. After the war, they started a new family. The Bibers emigrated to the United States in 1947.
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