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Kathe Ert Reichstein

Hanover, Germany

Kaethe was the fifth of nine children born to Jewish parents. After graduating from secondary school, Kaethe worked with her father in his bakery. In 1918 she married Samson Reichstein, and the couple settled in Hanover, where Samson was based as a salesman. Their son Herbert was born in 1920. As his wife, Kaethe was officially required to take on her husband's citizenship.

1933-39: In 1938 Kaethe and her husband succeeded in obtaining an exit visa for the United States for their 18-year-old son Herbert as part of the U.S. immigration quota for Poland. Herbert sailed to America in October. Later that same year, Kaethe and Samson were expelled "home" to Poland with 1,000 other Polish Jews from Hanover. The Reichsteins made their way to Samson's hometown of Tarnopol.

1940-44: Three months after the Germans overran the Soviets in Tarnopol in June 1941, the Germans established a ghetto. At 4:30 a.m. on August 31, 1942, Kaethe and Samson were awakened by screaming outside. People in the ghetto were being rounded up and herded into a public square. Samson pleaded with Kaethe to run with him to hide in a bunker, but she refused, more terrified of what would happen if she hid and were discovered. She decided to remain alone in the house. Ten minutes later, she was rounded up.

Kaethe Reichstein was deported to the Belzec extermination camp in Poland. She perished there in September 1942.

 

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