Aviva Blum-Wachs - rescued by her mother in the Warsaw ghetto
Aviva Blum-Wachs was born in Warsaw in 1932 to Abraham (Abrasha) and Luba Blum. Aviva had a younger brother, Olek. When the Warsaw Ghetto was established in October 1940, Luba secured a building for the nursing school and moved there with her children. During the deportations in the summer of 1942, Luba managed to convince the Germans to let the nurses go, and smuggled Aviva and Olek out in a vehicle used to carry corpses. In the Aktion of January 1943, the Germans barged into the hospital at 33 Gęsia Street and shot hundreds of patients, physicians and nurses. Luba managed to hide several of the nurses and patients, as well as her children. Aviva’s father, who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, was arrested by the Gestapo and murdered. Luba, Aviva and Olek survived until liberation. Aviva immigrated to Israel in 1950.
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Avraham Carmi - rescued by a cemetery watchman in the Warsaw ghetto, and by his uncle in the concentration camps
Avraham Carmi was born in Krzeszowice, Poland in 1928, the child of Bezalel and Lea. After the German invasion, his family fled to his uncle Moshe Posner, who managed the Warsaw Jewish cemetery. In the mass deportations during the summer of 1942, Avraham and his mother were smuggled from the Umschlagplatz, but Avraham’s father was deported to Treblinka and murdered. During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the spring of 1943, Avraham, his mother, and his uncle Moshe Posner were sent to Majdanek, where Lea was murdered. Avraham and Moshe were then taken to a labor camp, and later were sent to Birkenau. From Birkenau, they were sent to various labor camps. Moshe, who cared for Avraham and saved him every step of the way, died of exhaustion and disease just 2 days before liberation. In 1945 Avraham immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine). He fought to defend the Etzion Bloc during the War of Independence and was taken prisoner by the Jordanians.
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Ester Burstein - rescued by her friend Erika Pakua in Bergen-Belsen
Born in Lodz in 1923, Ester came from a long line of rabbis on her mother’s side. Her father, too, was a rabbi. Ester had two younger sisters. In September 1942, Ester’s father was deported and murdered in the Chelmno extermination camp. Her mother died in the ghetto a year later, leaving Ester responsible for four young girls (her two sisters and two cousins). In 1944, they were sent to Auschwitz. After surviving several selections, they were deported to Christianstadt, a labor camp south of Berlin. Every morning, they marched seven kilometers to dig ditches for a water line.
In January 1945, the girls were marched to Bergen-Belsen. They caught typhus, and Ester's cousin died. Esther herself became very ill, and her friend, Erika Pakua, risked her life to get her half a cup of milk. Erika did not drink one drop from the cup. Ester remembers that acts of mutual aid like this were very common. Her sister, Channah died just after liberation. Esther weighed 27 kg when she was liberated.
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