b. Chodoròw, Poland, 1923
More than anything, I wanted to live in order to tell the world that someone must stop the Nazi murderers.
I decided I had to escape. Inside the Jonowski camp, near Lvov, Poland, there was no way to get out because of the electrified fence surrounding us. But out in the fields where I worked, maybe I had a chance.
One day soon after that decision, I backed away from the other workers toward the high weeds, until I disappeared in them. The next day I made my way to Lvov. I posed as a Christian, taking my friend's sister's name—Sophie Lourecka. I didn't have papers to prove my Christian identity, but I managed to get a job anyway, as a janitor with an elderly couple. I convinced them that the Nazis had been taking Christian boys and girls from Poland to work in the ammunition factories, and I had escaped from there. I lived with this couple for a year and a half on Kopernika Street.
In May 1944, I was recognized by some former schoolmates who saw me sweeping the sidewalk outside the apartment building. One or all of them denounced me. In a few days, a Gestapo soldier and a plainclothesman came to the door and asked for “Miss Sophie.” They demanded my documents, but I didn't have any to show.
I confessed to them right away that I was Jewish, hoping to avoid the beatings that I heard were done to all Jews when they were captured. They took me back to the apartment. The old couple asked me what was wrong.
“I'm Jewish, ” I admitted.
Shocked, the old man said, “Look what I have to go through in my old age.” I turned to the Nazis and asked for mercy on this old couple.
“If you believe in God, ” I said, “please don't kill them. They didn't know I was Jewish.”
I found out later that their lives were spared.
My Nazi captors beat me in front of the elderly couple with a whip they found hanging on the wall. Then they took me out to the street and walking along, they asked, “Do you know any other Jews? If you turn anybody in, you will be saved.”
“I'm alone, ” I said, “I don't know anyone here.”
The plainclothesman burst out, “You dirty Jew! I'll kill you with my bare hands.”