Interview Commentary

Short interviews with orphan charges at the Bellevue home for displaced Jewish orphans funded by French and American Jewish charities (run by Lena Kuechler, another Boder interviewee) grant us something like a child's eye view of the Holocaust.

Unlike her classmates, fifteen-year-old Edith Zierer could not elude the Germans. Her parents fled to L'viv in eastern Poland from their native Katowice in 1939, but conditions in the Soviet zone of occupation must have been very poor, for they moved to German-occupied Kraków in 1940. Her mother's attempt to "pass" with forged Aryan papers failed when a local ethnic German recognized her and informed the authorities. Edith and her younger sister fled to the Kraków ghetto and joined their father shortly before all three were sent to a nearby labor camp. When the two children were literally tossed out for being too young, Edith managed for a time to provide her sister with a hiding place on a Polish farm. But when all the Jews in the region seemed about to be swept into Plaszow concentration camp just outside Kraków, she saw to it that the three of them would go here together, yet another example of powerful Jewish family bonds. Ultimately Edith was selected for work in the ammunition plants at Skarżysko and Czestochowa. Her knowledge of German doubtless played a role in getting good work assignments. She searched in vain for her family after liberation and was sent by Jewish authorities to Lena Kuechler's home in Zakopane.