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Paula Wajcman

Kielce, Poland

Paula was raised in a religious Jewish family in Kielce, a city in the southeast of Poland. Her family lived in a modern two-story apartment complex. Paula's father owned the only trucking company in the district. Her older brother, Herman, attended religious school, while Paula attended public kindergarten in the morning and religious school in the afternoon.

1933-39: Paula's school uniform was a navy blazer with a white blouse and pleated skirt. At age 9, she did the "Krakowiak" dance at school. Boys flirted with her when her overprotective brother was not around. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Paula's father did not wait for German troops to reach Kielce. He loaded one of his trucks, and the family fled east to the town of Tuchin, 30 miles from the Soviet border.

1940-44: Paula's mother, returning to Kielce for supplies, was stranded when the border dividing Poland closed. German forces occupied Tuchin on July 4, 1941. Hearing that Jews nearby had been massacred, the family built a bunker under the wooden floor of the textile factory where they worked. They knew that the pits the Germans and Ukrainians were digging were intended for them. At dawn on September 24, 1942, police moved into the ghetto. People set fires everywhere. In the chaos, Paula and her father ran to the bunker.

The bunker was discovered by the Germans, and Paula and her father were shot. She was 14 years old.

 

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