|"They must have taken an enormous chance in doing this."|
Moravska Ostrava, Czechoslovakia
|The problems were... why we couldn't stay in any place too long. The reasons were very obvious. Number one, in those parts of the country people know one another. The grocer knows that, uh, when a farmer comes to buy his supplies he used to buy for years and years the same amount of supplies. Suddenly he buys three times as much. So, it raises suspicion. What, why do you suddenly need so much food? Uh, problem number two, visibility. Uh, you always had to stay away from windows because somebody may see you through the window. Uh, the people know one another to such an extent that they know exactly in which room you are heating your stove. Suddenly through a chimney that was not used for years, smoke comes out. So, these were all signs that some unusual activity is taking place in the house, and therefore to, uh, lower the level of suspicion we had to be continuously on the move.|
Zofia was born to a Jewish family in Warsaw. Zofia's father, a self-made man who had put himself through university, was a successful banker. The Rapaports lived on a street of single-family homes with gardens. Zofia's room was decorated with yellow lacquered furniture.
1933-39: As a young child, I loved to play with my dog, Chapek. Sometimes I got to go shopping with my mother downtown. Each year during the Jewish holiday of Passover we visited my grandparents in Lvov. In late August 1939, when I was 6, my father was called for military duty; two days later war broke out. My father returned in November and said we should escape to Lvov, which was occupied by the Soviets.
1940-44: In Lvov my father found work as an accountant, and I started first grade at a Ukrainian school. In 1941, when I was 8, the Germans occupied Lvov. My parents managed to return to Warsaw to hide with one of my father's former employees. I was sent to the country to live with a very poor peasant family. After several months the neighbors became suspicious and the peasants brought me back to my parents in Warsaw. We were confined in a tiny room and for two years we spoke in whispers and didn't dare go near the window.
After the 1944 Warsaw uprising, Zofia and her mother made their way to Cracow, where they stayed until the Soviets freed the city in 1945. Her father died in a Nazi camp.
|Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.|