Born: March 15, 1928, Pabianice, Poland
Yona was the eldest of four children in a working-class Jewish family. The family lived in the Jewish section of Pabianice. Yona's father sold merchandise to Polish stores. When the Poles could not pay him for his goods, they would give him food for his family. It was a difficult life in Pabianice, but Yona's family was very close, and many relatives lived nearby.
1933-39: After war began in September 1939, the Germans set up a ghetto in Pabianice in our neighborhood. All my extended family were moved to the ghetto. We suffered because there wasn't enough food. Every week the Gestapo came and confiscated more of our valuables. Then they began seizing people--every few weeks they took people either for work or to concentration camps. We never knew if we'd see each other again at the end of the day.
1940-44: In May 1942 the Pabianice ghetto was emptied. My sister, father and I were deported to the Lodz ghetto. I was 12 and was sent to work in a factory with my little sister. For two years we sewed clothes, hiding when the Germans began deporting Jews from Lodz. In August 1944, we were sent to Auschwitz, where we faced selection. My sister was sent to die. I was sent to work in an airplane factory in Germany. When the Americans began bombing, we were put on trains for the Mauthausen camp.
After 10 days with little food and no water, Yona was liberated in Mauthausen by the Americans. After the war she joined an uncle in Israel and eventually settled in America.
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