Esther and Max Bromberg, a young couple from Warsaw, were confined in the Warsaw ghetto with their daughter Lila. Before the war Max, a linguist, was employed as a translator and Esther was a secretary. In the ghetto they both worked as hairdressers. As living conditions deteriorated Max decided to try to smuggle his wife and daughter out of the ghetto.
Her parents wrapped Lila in a thick wad of cloth and blankets, and bribed a Pole standing outside the ghetto to catch the child when Max and Esther threw her from a window. Next, Esther exited the ghetto via the gate equipped with false documents, collected Lila and escaped with her to the countryside. One of the few things that Esther took with her was the powder compact that Max had given her as an engagement present and a hairbrush that Max had given to his young daughter.
Mother and daughter lived under assumed identities until the end of the war. Esther paid for hiding places with jewelry and when possible earned a living as a hairdresser. Max managed to stay in touch with his wife for a while and told her of the deteriorating situation in the ghetto. In his last letter he wrote:
"I have one request – stay alive. Perhaps we will meet again sometime. Perhaps, although I very much doubt it. Don't cry my little one. I kiss you a thousand times. If you have a little time during the day, sit Lilka on your lap and tell her that her father loves her more than life itself."
Max was murdered. Esther and Lila survived. The powder compact and the hairbrush remain as mementos from a loving husband and father who wrote in his last letter:
"I wish we could meet one more time… after that I would be able die and not be sorry about my life."
Tragically, his wish was not granted.
Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection, donated by Lila Wien (Bromberg), Givat Shmuel, Israel