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Machla Spicehandler Braun
1886 | Lowicz, Poland
Raised in Lowicz, Poland, in a religious Jewish family, Machla moved to Lodz when she married Jacob Braun. Her husband worked as a businessman and real estate investor. He became the landlord for an apartment building where he and his family also lived. Machla, a housewife, cared for their five children, who ranged in age from 5 to 15.
1933-39: Machla worked as a volunteer for the Zionist cause. The Brauns were a close family, and Machla's daughters Lena and Eva held their weddings in the Braun's large apartment: they were catered, elaborate affairs with the rooms decorated with flowers. Machla's fourth child married in 1939. Soon afterwards, the Gestapo began coming daily to the Braun's apartment, demanding information about their building's tenants.
1940-45: The Nazis deported the Brauns to a ghetto in the town of Piotrkow Trybunalski, where Machla and her four daughters were separated from the men in the family. In November 1944 Machla and her daughters were sent to the Ravensbrueck camp for women. At her age, Machla could not handle the back-breaking labor, so Lena did much of her work. Machla and the girls were later transferred to the Bergen-Belsen camp, where Machla was so weakened by starvation and disease that she lay dying on the floor of her filthy barrack.
Two days after the British liberated the camp in April 1945, Machla died at Bergen-Belsen.