Born: Lvov, Poland
September 2, 1937
Both of Selma's Jewish parents, Daniel Schwarzwald and Laura Litwak, had been raised in the industrial city of Lvov. As many different nationalities lived in Lvov, Selma's mother and father could speak many languages--Polish, Russian, German and Yiddish. In running his successful lumber business, Daniel also occasionally used English.
1933-39: My parents married in April 1935 and I was born two years later. My father was afraid that there might be a war and wanted to move the family to safety in Britain. But my mother didn't want to abandon her parents. In September 1939, when I was 2 years old, the Germans invaded Poland from the west while the Soviets invaded from the east. Lvov fell under Soviet control.
1940-44: In 1941 the Germans occupied Lvov. On the day of my fifth birthday, my father disappeared. My mother and I moved to a small town called Busko-Zdroj. She told me my name was Zofia Tymejko, that we were Catholic, and warned me: "Never tell anyone we're from Lvov, never talk to strangers." We became practicing Catholics. One day at school, my teacher said Germans and Jews were bad--the Germans because they killed Poles, the Jews because they killed Jesus. I asked Mother; she said she knew some Jews and that they weren't all bad.
After the war ended, Selma and her mother emigrated to England. There, Selma learned that she was Jewish. She eventually became a doctor, and settled in America in 1963.