Warning! The text retains the original spelling of surnames and place names by an Israeli researcher; in many cases it may not be correct. Fragments that could contain current personal data have been removed from the interview.

Subject of Interview: Ewa Alter and Family

Grandparents: Dwora + Szmuel Levin and Chawa + Jankiel Markiewicz

Parents:  Malka and Lejzer

Husband: Leon (Lajbek)Alter

The maternal grandparents were Dwora and Szmuel Levin. The paternal grandparents were Chawa and Jankiel Markiewicz. There all lived in Łódź. Grandfather Jankiel was a tailor. Szmuel worked in his son’s business. It was a big shop that sold tights  (stockings, Polish: trykot). People came from all over Poland to buy them in Łódź.  Ewa’s father had eight siblings and her mother had seven siblings. Chawa died when she was young. Ewa is named after her grandmother. At home she was called Chawa. Grandmother Dwora didn’t work. The grandparents knew Yiddish and Polish. In Ewa’s home they spoke Polish. The grandparents were not very orthodox. Both families kept a kosher kitchen, but not in Ewa’s house. They celebrated Sabbath and all the important Jewish  holidays. Ewa doesn’t know if her grandparents belonged to a Zionist party or a similar organization. There were no such talks and discussions at home.

Ewa’s parents were Lejzer and Malka. They were both born in Łódź. Her parents knew Yiddish, German and Polish. Ewa’s father also knew Spanish (Ladino?). He spent some time in Argentina. He worked in a big factory where they manufactured items from wood. He was a manager and the only Jew. All the other workers were Poles. Ewa’s mother didn’t work outside the home. She stayed at home. Ewa thinks that her parents attended public school and graduated, but she didn’t remember well. At home they celebrated Sabbath and important Jewish holidays. Father sometimes had to work on Saturday as well. On the important holidays they went to grandmother Dwora and they celebrated together with the whole family. At the time they had a big apartment; there were two big rooms whereas most families lived in one room. Ewa thinks that her parents didn’t belong to any organizations.

Ewa’s brother was three years younger than she. His name was Lajbek. Both of them went to Jewish public school in Łódź. There were separate schools for girls and boys. Ewa’s school was separated from the school for Poles. Both schools were in one building. Everything was taught in Polish. Ewa liked going to school. Ewa’s family lived in Lodz in a neighborhood with more Poles than Jews. She didn’t remember any anti-Semitic incident because the neighbors mostly had jobs thanks to her father. She assumes that maybe because of her father's position nobody dared to say anything.

During the Holocaust Ewa was in the ghetto in Łódź till 1944 and then she was taken to Auschwitz. She was in Auschwitz only for a few days. Then she was taken to work in Hamburg in construction and building. Then she was taken to Bergen Belsen where she was liberated by the British army.

In the ghetto she lived with her parents. This district where she used to live belonged in the ghetto, so in fact they stayed in the same apartment. It was Franciszkańska Street number 61. One grandfather, Jankiel, lived close by.  He died in the ghetto. Ewa’s father also died in the ghetto, from hunger. When the ghetto was established, the factory in which he worked was closed down. In the ghetto everybody had to work, otherwise it was not possible to get food coupons. There were actions (deportations) in the ghetto, but nobody knew where the people were being taken.

Maternal grandfather Szmuel and his family went to Warsaw. They moved before the establishment of the ghetto in Łódź. They thought that it would be a better place to live. They all died in Warsaw.

Ewa’s mother, one brother and one sister with two children stayed in Łódź. They lived together and they were sent with Ewa’s family to Auschwitz. In Auschwitz they were separated. The aunt with two children, were sent immediately to the crematorium, because she had children. Ewa’s brother was separated from them and they never heard from him again. The sister of Ewa’s father died in Bergen Belsen. From the whole family only Ewa and her mother survived.

In Auschwitz Ewa didn’t work. She worked in Hamburg construction. They used to sweep snow from the streets. In Germany there were also air attacks. They would build a house one day and the next day it was destroyed.

After the liberation of Bergen Belsen people were starving and ate whatever they could find. But it was not good food and many people died because of it. Ewa and her mother were not hungry. In Bergen Belsen there were piles of corpses. The English soldiers came in cars. By that time the Germans had already run away.

From Bergen Belsen they were moved to Sweden. Ewa’s mother was very ill. Ewa assumes that it was the Red Cross who took them to Sweden. Ewa was in Sweden for five years. They worked at Falköping, a big company. They got an apartment and everything they needed.

Ewa met her husband in Sweden. Leon came to Sweden from Germany. He was also a Jew, from Borysław. He worked in the salt mines in Wieliczka during the war. There was a lager there, a concentration camp. They made bombs for airplanes. Leon was a welder and a good worker. That’s why they kept him alive till the end. After liberation he stayed on in Germany and then he went to work as a welder in Sweden. He came to the city where Ewa was living and they met.  The wedding was in Sweden and then they moved to Israel with Ewa’s mother. It was in 1950. They decided to immigrate because Leon had family there. They had immigrated before the war.

In the beginning they lived in Hedera and Leon worked in Tel Aviv as a welder. He used to come home only on weekends. They brought various machines from Sweden with them and opened a business – repairing cars after accidents. In the beginning in Israel it was very difficult. Only Leon worked and Ewa was pregnant. Ewa’s mother didn’t work either.

Later they bought an apartment near Tel Aviv in Neve Mishkan. They had money to buy it from the compensation payments from Germany to Ewa’s mother and Leon. Ewa didn’t get compensation. Ewa’s mother lived with her and Leon commuted to work in Tel Aviv.

Neither Ewa nor her mother have been back to Poland. They had nobody in Poland to visit. She doesn’t remember hearing about the happenings in Poland in 1968. In fact she said that she was not interested in that issue. She hasn’t found any of her friends and colleagues from before WW2. She has no contact with anyone. Ewa’s mother was very ill and it was difficult for Ewa to leave her and go and visit only cemeteries. The whole of Leon’s family was in Israel so there was no reason to visit Poland.