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Hela Szabszevicz

Lodz, Poland

Hela was born in the industrial city of Lodz. She grew up speaking Polish and Yiddish, and learned German and Russian at secondary school. After completing school she married, and moved with her husband to a house on her father-in-law's large estate in the nearby town of Ozorkow. Hela was active in planning events for Jewish organizations. She and her husband, Israel, had two daughters.

1933-39: After German troops occupied Ozorkow in 1939, Hela and her family were forced out of their home and moved in with relatives. On the way home from exchanging her fur coat for a few pounds of flour, Hela was searched by a German soldier. He found the hidden flour and took Hela to have her head shaved as punishment. Hela felt humiliated, but when she returned home, she put on a scarf and said, "It's nothing; my hair will grow back."

1940-42: By 1940 the Germans established a Jewish ghetto in the poorest part of Ozorkow. One day Hela and her youngest daughter, Dosia, were taken and locked in a school building along with 1,000 other Jews. The crowd became hysterical. Hela realized that their lives were in danger, so when the Germans asked for a translator, Hela volunteered, saying, "But I have a little girl and I'm not going alone." Later that day Hela, Dosia and a few others returned to the ghetto. Those remaining were loaded onto trucks and taken away.

Hela and her daughters were transferred to the Lodz ghetto in 1942. There Hela contracted typhus and died on April 4, 1943.

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