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Laura Ellenbogen

Rozwadow, Poland

Laura was one of five children born to a Jewish family in the southeastern Polish town of Rozwadow. Jews comprised almost two-thirds of the town's population. Laura's father worked as a wholesaler, providing families in the area with grain, potatoes and other produce. Laura attended one of the town's public schools.

1933-39: Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned Poland [as a result of the Nazi-Soviet Pact] in September 1939. Our town lay on the demarcation line. On September 24 the Germans reached Rozwadow, and many Poles in the town were glad to see them. Then, in early October, we were ordered out of our house; we were told that in 24 hours we had to cross the San River to the Soviet zone. Our Polish maid and her friends laughed as we took the few belongings we were allowed.

1940-44: On the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, in June 1941, Soviet forces evacuated Polish Jews near the border to the Soviet interior. Summarily ordered to go and work in the east, we were shoved onto trains, packed 60 people to a car. The summer heat was agonizing since the cars had no windows. The lack of toilets intensified the stench of overcrowding. We were allowed off the train occasionally to eat a thin soup with greens. Three weeks passed before we arrived, exhausted and starving, in the Ural mountains.

Laura did forced labor at a logging camp in the Urals until she was released in 1943. She lived in Kazakhstan, Warsaw and aDP camp in Germany before emigrating to the United States in 1949.

 

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