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Jankiel Kulawiec

And all that time I thought a few times about going to Israel. The first time was when the Haganah [19] was being formed - with friends we wanted to go as volunteers. We even went to Left Poalei Zion to sort it out, but something didn't work out, I can't remember what. Then in 1968, when there were all those problems, I sent my papers off to Warsaw, to the Ministry of Interior Affairs, but they turned me down. And after that my wife didn't want to, because couples from mixed marriages that went didn't get along too well there, goy women in particular had trouble acclimatizing there. So I only ever went to Israel to visit family, when it was allowed [from 1967 to 1989 Poland did not maintain diplomatic ties with Israel]. I went the first time in 1989, I went with my daughter, to visit the last remaining Kulawieces. I went again in 1994. But before that all I had was contact by letter.
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The daughter was ill, I think she had consumption too; she even came to Losice once, and stayed with Dawid, at Grandma's. And then she died, and the other son - her brother - went to Israel, apparently.
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Krystyna Budnicka

In 1968 I got another job, but not because anyone forced me out - I simply found a better job, and one that was in Warsaw, so I didn't have to travel. And that year, in 1968, I made many trips to Gdanski Station [in Warsaw], which was where people left for Israel. I said goodbye to many people then, and cried. But I didn't have the feeling that it was anti-Semitism among the Poles that was driving them away. I blamed the communist system; after all, it was because of the authorities that these people were losing their jobs, it was communist agitators who were screaming at rallies for Jews to go to Zion. That system persecuted us in various ways, and anti-Semitism was just one of its methods.
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First she was taken to the Jewish children's home, then to Cracow, and today she lives in Israel. They tried to persuade me to go as well, but I didn't want to, and I was old enough that they could hardly have forced me. The same people came to the children's home several times, and they carried on coming when we were back in Warsaw, too. [Editor's note: The children's home returned to Warsaw in 1946, and was located on Czerniakowska Street.] Once a man came to visit me claiming to be my cousin and telling me he was going to take me to Palestine. But I knew he was no relative of mine. I was very hurt that he tried to deceive me.
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Janina Duda

Anyway, I had an admirer at that time; his name was Josl Laks. And in 1935 he left for Israel. At that time a lot of Zionist youth left for Israel [then Palestine]. There is a Russian song ‘khodit parim na zakadye vozlye doma moyevo,’ – ‘a boy walks around my house at sunset.’ And he walked around my house. I didn’t want him. Because I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t feel a bond with all that [with Jewry]. I left Jewry and joined TUR and that was my community. After the war, when I was in Israel, my friend Estera Klawir and her husband Lang Lejben told me that this boy came back to Poland in 1939 looking for me, he wanted to convince me to leave with him. He died in Lublin, in Majdanek, together with his parents.
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In 1948 he left for Israel with his wife, as part of Haganah [3], ‘the fight for Israel.’ These are interesting things, how people’s fates become twisted.
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gabor paneth

My father's youngest brother Jeno was the closest to my father. He maintained his Orthodox life style but moved to Budapest. He lived in the Jewish quarter of the town and worked as a melamed. His wife Margit wore a shaytl (wig). They had two daughters. Marta was a Zionist and she made aliya (emigrated to Israel) at the age of 16 in 1941. Her sister Edit married an architect who, as I remember my father saying, was somewhat of a caricature of the Orthodox Jew. He was loudly religious but didn't really seem to know that much. However, when they made aliya with their five children in 1957, they settled in one of the most Orthodox areas in Israel, in Bnei Brak. Jeno and Margit also left for Israel in 1951 and settled on a kibbutz.
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Isroel Lempertas

David graduated from the Mathematics Department of Vilnius University. He was an excellent student, but still he had problems with a job. He was given a mandatory job assignment teach mathematics at the elementary school, though he ranked the 2nd of the 3rd best student and was dreaming of scientific work. Finally I managed to find a place for him - to perform research at the University, but David was dissatisfied: the salary was skimpy, there was no way for the growth and he could not work on his own. He had a family - his wife Liza, a Jew, who worked as an accountant and two daughters, Elena and Anna born in a row in 1982 and 1983 respectively. In early 1990s David and his family left for Israel. There he does well. He is a mathematician/programmer. His wife is working as an accountant. My favorite granddaughters served a full term in Israel army. Now both of them study at Haifa University. My son's family lives in Petakh Tikvah. I visited him for couple of times. I am happy he managed to achieve what he sought.
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I am happy in my private life. I met a wonderful Jewish girl at the university. Polina Aibinder was the student of the medical department. We had a lot in common. Both of us were born in small Lithuanian towns. She was born in Kupiskis in 1930. Her father Zelik Aibinder was a tailor and mother was a housewife. Polina had a sister Rosa Aibinder. In 1941 she did not manage to get evacuated and had to go through all the horror of Vilnius ghetto [33]. Rosa survived. Shortly after war was over she left for Israel. She is still living there. In 1941 Polina and her parents left the town and were evacuated in Chuvashia. Upon return Polina's family settled in Vilnius. Polina and I started seeing each other. In 1951 we got married. We had a very modest wedding. We registered our marriage in a regional marriage registration office and had a small party with closest people in my aunt's apartment as there was no room in our apartment. We moved in my mother's place. In 1952 our elder son came into the world. We named him David after my brother. Our second son Ilia was born in 1957.
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There were 5 daughters, including my mother born in 1897. The eldest sister, who was couple of years older than my mother, had a double name Rosa and Shifra. She was called Shifra in our family. Her husband Aba Mets did not have a permanent job. He got by odd jobs. Shifra and Aba had two sons- Rafael, 4 years older than me and Nahman, who was my age. When the Great Patriotic War [2] was unleashed, we fled with the family of aunt Shifra. Her husband Aba was in the labor front first [3]. He worked at some military plant in Siberia. Then he was drafted in the army and served in Lithuanian division #16 [the battalion is called Lithuanian because it was formed mostly from the former Lithuanian citizens, who were volunteers, evacuated or serving in the labor front]formed in 1943. Aba was killed in action in 1943 shortly after he had been drafted. He was not a young man at that time. Shifra and the boy came back to Lithuania and settled in Vilnius. About 20 years ago, she and her children left for Israel. Shifra had lived a long life and died in early 1990s. Her sons are doing well in Israel now.
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jerzy pikielny

He was drafted into the army in 1939. He was held POW in an Oflag [10], and that probably saved him his life. After the war he moved to Paris for some time but soon left for Israel. He was a Zionist even before the war.
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Edit Kovacs

I married my first husband, Vilmos Weisz, an apprentice electrician, in
June 8, 1941. The marriage ceremony was held in the Neolog synagogue on
Pava Street. Vilmos was born in 1909 in Jaszbereny. This is a mid-size town
in northeast Hungary with a relatively large and traditionalist Jewish
community. He was drafted into a forced labor battalion in 1942. At first
he worked in the Weisz Manfred Steel Factory (which had also been Jewish
before its confiscation) in Budapest.

His parents were good Neolog Jews. They were rather religious as long as
they lived in the countryside, but when they moved up to Budapest around
1930, they became lax in their observance. The family was very poor because
they had three other siblings beside Vilmos. Vilmos's parents were the only
ones from the family who survived the Holocaust, and they made aliya
(emigrated to Israel) after the war. I regarded them almost as my parents
after my husband died, and I kept up correspondence with them until they
died in the mid-1950s.
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danuta mniewska

My sister and brother-in-law applied for emigration and in 1954 or 1955 left for Israel. They lived in Ramat Gan. My brother-in-law's sister, Sonia, helped them a lot. She had no children of her own, an unsuccessful marriage, so they were virtually all she had. It was thanks to her they bought an apartment, then they swapped it for a larger one. Hadn't it been for her, it would have been very hard for them, they'd have had nothing to live on.
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My mother's eldest sister, Cela Grajman, emigrated with her family in the early 1930s to Palestine. Her four kids had been born in Poland: Rachel, Szmuel, Bracha - my age - and the youngest one, Salomon; they called him Salek. Uncle went first. Later, when Aunt joined him with the kids, it was very hard for them, as they had nothing to live on. Their kids, in their teens, joined the Haganah [11].

Around 1937 my grandparents with their youngest son, Szolek, joined them in Palestine. It was very hard for them there - Grandfather suffered from anemia. Szolek dreamed of staying and begged his parents, cried like a child, for them to let him stay, that he would settle down somehow. Grandfather didn't want to agree - Szolek was supposed to take over the management of his business in Lodz. And so my grandparents returned with their son in 1938, returned to Poland...
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What was happening in Poland in the 1930s [8] hurt us terribly. I remember in Lodz, in the house where we lived, also on the first floor, there lived a young married couple - very nice people. His name was Saul Jerozolimski. He had a wife and a little baby girl. I liked them very much, and they liked me too, so it was a mutual affinity. And they emigrated to Palestine. It may have been 1935. I don't know what happened to them. They exchanged letters with someone from our house, perhaps with my parents too, and once they wrote it was being hard for them. My parents never thought about going to Palestine, they had no money for that. You had to have some foothold there - a job, a house. I don't think they would have gone to a kibbutz - my father would have agreed, but my mother would certainly have not.
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