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Destined to Live: A True Story of a Child in the Holocaust
Aurelia Gamzer had lived an idyllic life in Lvov, Poland. Her family was moderately wealthy, and Aurelia was a well behaved child who enjoyed sneaking sweets from her father’s candy shop and playing with her a lot of dolls. But, right after the Hitler made a deal with the Soviet Union to invade Poland, the little girl’s planet was turned upside down.
Initial, the Nazis took all of their possessions (gold, silver, jewelry) then the Nazis began to search homes for Jews so they could execute them. Aurelia and her household had to hide from the Gestapo to survive. Following a handful of months of terror, each Jew had to put on an armband. Aurelia despised her armband, and begged her mother to take it off. All Jews in Lvov feared becoming taken away to the “work camps”. Aurelia and her household had been forced to live in a ghetto. They had to share living quarters with yet another household, and each space was really, really small. Aurelia’s father had dug a hole below the floorboards so they could hide from the Gestapo.
The living circumstances were terrible, Aurelia described there becoming a stench of chemical compounds, mixed with urine. Dogs and cats crowded the streets, and trash was thrown out on the street. Aurelia’s father would sneak in little rations of stale bread for his family. Her dad was considered a “useful Jew” so he had permissions to leave the ghetto to work in a factory. Aurelia’s household had come up with a strategy to sneak her out of the ghetto so she could live with Christian family. As Aurelia hid beneath her father’s trench coat, she heard a Nazi yell at a “useful Jew” for taking also long to get his ID card out. The Nazi yelled “Jew” to his dog, and the dog killed the man.
Right after months of living with a Christian loved ones in hiding, all Jews in Lvov have been liberated by the Soviet Union after the Russians sided with the Ally forces. But life nonetheless wasn’t easy. All Lvov citizens were to move to Krakow unless they wanted to be Russian citizens. Following years of waiting for their Visas, Aurelia’s family finally made their way to America, where Aurelia changed her name to Ruth, married Jack Gruener, continued her education, and gave many talks about life for the duration of WWII as a Jew.
Reality: Throughout WWII Lvov was part of Poland, but after the Soviet Union took over Lvov, the name changed to Lviv.
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