Born: Vinnitsa, Romania
January 6, 1883
Mina was the daughter of Chaim and Scheindel Schaerf. They lived in the multi-ethnic town of Vinnitsa. Mina came from a religious Jewish family. At 19 she married Josef Litwak, a banker from the nearby town of Dolina, Poland. The couple settled in the industrial city of Lvov, where they raised five children. Four languages were spoken in their household--Polish, Russian, German and Yiddish.
1933-39: The Litwak's two youngest children, Fryda and Adela, had finished secondary school and were planning to attend university, but were unable to because the Polish government was enforcing quotas limiting Jewish admissions to universities. On September 1, 1939, the Germans invaded Poland from the west, and the Soviets invaded from the east 16 days later, splitting the country in two. Lvov was in the Soviet sector.
1940-42: On June 30, 1941, eight days after Germany invaded the Soviet Union, German forces occupied Lvov. Towards the end of the year, most of Lvov's Jews were concentrated in a Jewish ghetto. Food in the ghetto was scarce, and the population was subjected to repeated roundups and deportations. In late August 1942, during the biggest deportation roundup in the ghetto, the Germans came for Mina. Her husband insisted on going with her.
Mina and her husband were put on a transport to the Belzec extermination camp, where she perished in August 1942. She was 59 years old.