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Personal Story

Zdzieciol, Poland

Aaron was one of four children born to a Jewish family in the northeastern Polish town of Zdzieciol. His father was a shoemaker and, along with a business partner, he also ran a shoe store in the town. Aaron attended a private Jewish school, where he studied the Polish language and history as well as Jewish history and Hebrew.

1933-39: On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Three weeks later, Poland was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union [under the German-Soviet Pact]. We felt lucky. Zdzieciol was in the eastern part occupied by the Soviets so we didn't see any Germans in 1939. We'd heard stories about the German treatment of Jews and were elated to see the Soviets. Father advised us that two trades needed during war were tailoring and shoemaking.



Europe 1933, Poland indicated
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1940-44: In June 1941 Germany invaded the USSR. In early 1942 the Germans set up a ghetto in Zdzieciol, and on August 6 decided to liquidate it. At 4 a.m. we heard people running; Germans and drunk Lithuanians surrounded the town. We were marched to a cemetery and ordered to lie face down. Professions were called out: "Carpenters! Blacksmiths!" When shoemakers were called I raised my hand, never lifting my head. A soldier hit me with a rifle and ordered me up. I was among those deported to a work camp. The rest were shot.

Later, Aaron escaped and joined the Soviet partisans. Conscripted into the Soviet army in July 1944, he was in Germany when the war ended. He emigrated to the United States in 1947.

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