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Lisa Dawidowicz

Ostrog, Poland

Lisa was born to a Jewish family in the small city of Ostrog in southeastern Poland. Her parents operated a grocery out of their residence; the front half of the house was a store and the rear half was their home. Ostrog was an important center of Jewish religious learning in Poland, and by 1933 Jews made up almost two-thirds of the city's total population.

1933-39: My family was religious and we regularly attended services. I studied at a Polish school until the Soviets arrived in September 1939, at which time I briefly attended a Soviet school. But Soviet rule didn't alter our lives much.

1940-44: Suddenly everything changed. The Germans invaded Soviet-controlled Poland in June 1941 and reached Ostrog in July. They quickly set up a ghetto and organized the local Jews into work brigades. We realized by late 1942 that many of these groups were not returning from their work sites. We searched for a hiding place. A poor farm woman agreed to hide our family of five in an underground potato cellar--there was no room to stand and we could breathe only through a hole covered by pumpkins. We remained there for 16 months.

Lisa was liberated when the Soviet army freed eastern Poland in 1944. After living in displaced persons camps in Germany, Lisa emigrated to the United States in 1949.

 

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