← Back to Joseph Sher

Leah Holding Her Child

Leah holds her child Berele. During deportation from the Czestochowa ghettoCzestochowa Ghetto: established on April 9, 1941, it was sealed off on August 23, 1941. The ghetto population suffered from overcrowding, hunger and epidemics. On September 23, 1942 a large scale deportation (Aktion) began. By October 5, 1942, about 39,000 people had been deported to Treblinka extermination camp, while 2,000 had been executed on the spot.

The now diminished ghetto within new borders was called the “small ghetto.” A Jewish Fighting Organization was set up in December 1942. On January 4, 1943 it rose in armed resistance to the Nazis. The next day the Nazis shot 250 children and old people.

On June 26, 1943, the Germans began liquidating the “small ghetto.” The remaining 4,000 Jews were transferred to two slave labor camps organized at the city’s HASAG factories. Before leaving the city on January 17, 1945, the Germans managed to deport almost 6,000 inmates from the HASAG factories to concentration camps inside Germany. The 5,200 inmates who succeeded in hiding were liberated by the Soviet army.Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.
the Sher women had a last minute decision to make: Who would hold Berele? If Leah would have given her child to her mother to hold, her own chances of being chosen for work would have improved. Her mother’s chances would then have been nil. The younger sisters were afraid for the mother. It was decided to let the mother go with the younger sisters and Leah would take Berele. As it happened none were chosen for work and all perished. Afterwards, it was suggested that if the mother had taken Berele, maybe Leah would have survived.

Photo Credit: Joseph Sher