A Wealth of Knowledge

Sarny, Poland

Bronia Bronkesh was born Bronia Cimmerman on April 22, 1921 in Sarny, Poland. Her father Shaye worked in lumber and her mother Elke was a homemaker. She lived near her grandparents, aunts, and uncles. In 1923, her grandmother’s sister in Detroit obtained visas for their whole family, including Bronia, to go to America. Her grandfather refused to go, and the family stayed in Poland. In 1924, her sister Bella was born. Her father worked out of town during the week but would come home on Saturday to see them. She went to a private Hebrew school as a young child, but she transferred to Polish public school at around age 10. At home she spoke Yiddish but at school she was only allowed to speak Polish. In 1934, when Bronia was 13 she took the entrance exams for high school. The class quota was that only 10% of a class could be Jewish, so it was very difficult for her to get in. She was sent to Rovno to attend a private Jewish high school, where she was very homesick. At Christmas, she was able to go home and at that time was admitted to Sarny’s high school. In school she learned German. In 1938, she graduated from high school and went to design school in Warsaw because Jews were not permitted to attend medical school which was her dream.