"Don't Forget Me" - Children's Personal Albums From the Holocaust

Jadzia Beitner | Yochit Mendelsohn

Jadzia Beitner was born in 1933 in Katowice, Poland.  On 1 September 1939, the day the war broke out, Jadzia was supposed to start first grade.  After the occupation, the Germans evicted the Jews of Katowice, and the family moved in with relatives in neighboring Sosnowiec.  Shortly afterwards, her brother Natan (born 1921) and her older sister Annie-Irena (born 1922) fled to Lvov.  Her father Herman-Zvi joined the older children.  Jadzia, her mother Baila and her ten year-old sister Zosia-Naomi stayed in Sosnowiec.  Annie and fellow members of the Akiva youth movement left Lvov for Vilna, with the intention of immigrating to Eretz Israel.

In 1940, Natan committed suicide, and Annie returned to Lvov to be with her father.  In July 1941, her father was murdered during the "Petliura Days" pogrom, and Annie was left alone in Lvov.  In January 1942, she managed to reach Sosnowiec under an assumed identity, and was reunited with her mother and sisters.  One month later, Annie was deported to the Oberaltstadtcamp in the Sudetenland, and assigned to work in the "Kloga" spinning factory.  Several months later, Zosia-Naomi also arrived at the camp.  In the spring of 1943, Baila and Jadzia were deported together with the Jews of Sosnowiec to the Srodula ghetto, and in August 1943, they were sent to Oberaltstadt.  Baila worked in the kitchen and young Jadzia was assigned to cleaning duties.  Baila Beitner and her daughters were imprisoned in the camp until it was liberated in May 1945.

In March 1944, the female prisoners in the camp celebrated Jadzia's 11th birthday.  She was the youngest camp inmate.  As a birthday gift, they presented her with 2 albums they had made for her with dedications from her friends in the camp.  Her older sister Annie wrote her the following dedication:

To the one and only
To the sweetest of all
To the most beloved
To the dearest and most well-liked
From Annie

In addition, Jadzia received a portion of soup and a plate of potatoes and beets.  The girls insisted that she eat all of it.  In her memoir, Yochit described her birthday in the camp as "the party sparsest in material goods and richest in spirit that I had ever had, or will ever have."

In 1947, Jadzia reached Eretz Israel through the Youth Aliyah.  She was 14 years old, and had yet to learn in any kind of formal educational framework.  Within a short time she was able to bridge the gaps in her education.  She finished night school, worked as a dental assistant and enlisted in the IDF.  After her military service, she studied at Tel Hashomer nursing school and became a nurse, working in the profession until her retirement.