The Sperling family – Henryk and Roza, daughter Miriam and son Witold lived in Krakow before the war. When moves began to enclose the Jews in ghettos, the family moved to a small village in the Carpathian region, where they lived until the Germans invaded in the summer of 1942. After Henryk was deported from there to a death camp, Roza and her two children returned in secret to the Krakow ghetto. The women found work in a German textile factory, but a short while later Witold died from the conditions in the ghetto. Roza and Miriam were moved to the Plaszów labor camp and in the fall of 1944 deported with the other workers to Auschwitz. During the entire length of their imprisonment – in Plaszów, Auschwitz and later in Ravensbrück – both mother and daughter kept a small piece of rouge with them which they used to give an impression of health and vitality during the selections. They hid the rouge in the palms of their hands.
In January 1945, the two women were marched with the other prisoners on a death march to Ravensbrück. The period between Auschwitz and their liberation was defined by terrible hunger, cold and continued suffering – worse than they had ever experienced before. They were moved to the Malchow camp and other camps in Germany, before finally being liberated by the Red Army. After the war, Miriam married, and later emigrated with her husband, daughter and mother to Israel.
Their belongings were given to Yad Vashem after being displayed in a long-standing exhibition on the Krakow ghetto at a public school in Tel Aviv.
Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Donated by the Association of Krakovians in Israel, Tel Aviv