Avoiding the Kraków Ghetto

Niepolomice, Poland

Mechel, the man who intended to marry Ben’s older sister Lola, provided the Lesser family an opportunity to move out of town. With the agreement of Ben’s father, he had made arrangements for the family to live in Niepolomice (Lesser, 67). Without time to lose, Ben and his family left town and avoided certain death in the Kraków Ghetto.

On the way out of Kraków, a group of Nazis had ordered Ben’s family to surrender all of their Jewish books. The German soldiers did this because they were aware that Jewish books were considered to serve as the foundation of the religion (Lesser, 68). To add to this great loss, Ben’s father had hid all the money they had within one of the books that were taken (Lesser, 67). As a result, Ben and his family had showed up to Niepolomice without any money.

Their living space in Niepolomice was a small, poorly built, two-bedroom cottage (Lesser, 69). The entire family lived together in one room. Situated in the hall, there was a large stone-baking oven (Lesser, 70). With the use of the oven and a house-warming gift of salt and flour, Ben’s father was able to begin making money for the family once again. Lazar made pretzels and sold them to the neighborhood bars (Lesser, 70).

Ben stayed in Niepolomice for two years. During these years, Moishe and Lola had both married and moved out. This left him and Tuli as the only children remaining in the apartment (Lesser, 73).

In 1943, the Lesser family was warned of an upcoming Nazi pogrom (Lesser, 75). During these heinous pogroms, the Nazi’s brought the mass destruction of Jewish homes, immediate execution to those found in hiding, and deportation to concentration camps (Lesser, 11).