Life in a Ghetto

Gerda and her family were forced to relocate from their home to a small ghetto located near the train station.

On April 19, 1942, Gerda’s family received orders that they would have to prepare to move to a small ghetto that was located in a remote part of the town next to the railroad terminal. (Klein, 72) Gerda and her family were able to take a small number of items and moved into an apartment that housed the remaining 250 Jewish people left in Bielitz. (Klein, 78) The small ghetto that Gerda was at was only a ten minutes’ walk from the Kultusgemeinde where they received all of their news about what could possibly happen to them in the future. (Klein, 78)

A couple of weeks went by before Gerda, her mother, and father were required to register because all able-bodied citizens in the ghetto had to work. Gerda’s father had to work in Sucha, where the Germans were fortifying the river, while she and her mother worked in a shop sewing together military garments for the German army. (Klein, 83) Soon after there was news that Gerda and her mother would be moved to Wadowitz, which meant that Bielitz was Judenrein (clear of Jews), but Gerda’s father would not travel with them because he would be scheduled to leave by train to a different location. (Klein, 85)

Gerda and her mother went to the train station that morning to see her father get loaded onto a train to be taken to his new destination. That would be the last time that Gerda ever saw her father. The next day it was time for Gerda and her mother to head to the station to be transferred to their new location. Gerda describes the scene of waiting to discover her fate, “Leaving the invalids behind, we assembled in a field in a suburb of Bielitz called Lärchenfeld. Here we were left in the rain to wait.” (Klein, 88). The remaining Jews were marched throughout Bielitz to a destination were a man started to separate the remaining Jews into two groups. (Klein, 91) Gerda and her mother were separated at this point with Gerda being loaded onto a truck. The truck left the area for its new destination and the last thing that Gerda heard from her mother was, “Be Strong.” (Klein, 92)