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Henia Rzondzinski

Kaluszyn, Poland

Henia was born to parents living in the small predominantly Jewish town of Kaluszyn, 35 miles east of Warsaw. By the early 1930s, hundreds of Jewish workers were employed in the town, some in small craft shops, as tailors and carpenters, and others in larger enterprises, as prayer-shawl weavers and fur coat makers. When Henia was in her twenties, she and her husband, Welwel, moved to Warsaw.

1933-39: When war broke out three months ago, many Jews left Warsaw in a mass exodus towards the east. They were mostly young and middle-aged men who were afraid that the Germans would deport them as forced labor. Welwel has stayed here. I'm worried about his safety, but he wouldn't think about leaving me alone with our children, Miriam and Fiszel. We are continuing, as best we can, to run our small grocery store on Nowolipki Street.

1940-43: The Jewish ghetto, situated in the heart of the Jewish quarter, was sealed off a few weeks ago. Our house on Gesia Street is in the ghetto and so is our store. Only small quantities of food can legally be brought into the ghetto, so our stocks have shrunk. Most of our customers purchase the basic items that we are allowed on our ration of some 800 calories: bread, potatoes, and ersatz fat. Those of us who have the means complement our diet with black market goods.

Henia and her family did not survive the war. They are thought to have been deported to the Treblinka extermination camp in the summer of 1942 or early 1943.

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