- Contains photographs of the Perlberger and Luftig family from Wieliczka and Krakow, Poland taken before the war; two letters written by Marysia in August 1946; and three letters written to Marysia by her rescuers: Irena Chmura and Zofia Duszczynska. Samuel and Henryka Perlberger (donor's parents) arranged for their only daughter Marysia (donor) to be hidden and they wrote a letter to a cousin in New York begging him to find the child and take care of her. Marysia survived as Maria Nowakowska with the help of Mrs. Irena Chmura and her daughter Wanda. Marysia’s parents were deported to the Bełżec death camp and murdered on arrival in August 1942.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Maria Perlberger-Shmuel
- Collection Creator
- Maria Perlberger-Shmuel
Maria Perlberger-Shmuel (née Perberger, 1933-2019) was born in 1933 in Wieliczka, Poland to Samuel (1896-1942) and Henryka Perberger (née Luftig, 1902-1942). Her father Samuel owned a tobacco shop. He served in the Piulsudski Legion of the Polish Army and was later active in the Wieliczka town council. The family was not religious, and only attended Synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Maria liked to attend church with the family’s maid, so she also learned Christian prayers and traditions.
After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Maria could no longer attend school, but had a private Polish instructor. Maria’s father was able to continue to run his tobacco shop because of his status with Piulsudski legion. The Perbergers arranged for a family acquaintance, Mrs. Duszczynska, to help hide Maria. Mrs. Duszczynska arranged for Maria to receive false identity papers, and she was hidden with a family in Warsaw as a Christian girl under the name of Maria Teresa Nowakowska. The Germans liquidated the Wieliczka Jewish community on 27 August 1942 and both of Maria’s parents were deported to Bełzec where they perished. Maria was later hidden with Irena Chmura in the Koło suburb of Warsaw around 1943. After the Warsaw Uprising in October 1944, the Chmura family fled to Krakow to avoid deportation. Maria was placed with Mrs. Berezynska, despite her upfront antisemitism.
After Krakow was liberated by the Red Army, Maria was placed in an orphanage there. She was adopted by a Polish family from Łodz. She was mistreated by them and ran away to Warsaw. Unable to find the Chmura family, she went to to the Ursuline convent in Piaski, Poland. Wanda Chmura, who visited Maria in Piaski, arranged for her to transfer to another orphanage in Konstancin-Jeziorna, Poland. This orphanage was later moved to Opole. While in the orphanage Maria learned that she had a great aunt, Mrs. Schenker, who survived the Holocaust in Russia and was now living in Krakow. Maria briefly lived with her great aunt in Krakow and then with relatives in Belgium. She was then sent to a Jewish orphanage in Belgium.
In 1948 Maria immigrated to Israel with the Youth Aliyah movement. She later served in the IDF and then married Ernst Shmuel (1928-2000), a Holocaust survivor from Berlin. They had two children: Amir (b. 1960) and Alon (b. 1968).
Rights & Restrictions
- Conditions on Access
- There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
- Conditions on Use
- Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.
- Holder of Originals
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- Donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2011 by Maria Perlberger-Shmuel.
- Record last modified:
- 2022-07-28 22:00:10
- This page:
Also in Maria Perlberger-Shmuel collection
Contains materials documenting the Holocaust experiences of Maria Perlberger-Shmuel and her family. Some of these materials may be combined into a single collection in the future.
The collection documents the Holocaust-era experiences of Maria Perlberger-Shmuel, who survived in hiding several Polish families in Krakow, Warsaw, and Łódź, Poland. Included is correspondence, a photograph, and a manuscript of the donor's published memoir, "This Girl is a Jew," written 1947–1948.
One document, torn into two pieces down center. Pink-colored paper with printed, handwritten and stamped information. "Schulerauweis Legitymacja Szkolna", dated 1943 School identification card was issued to Maria Nowakowska Maria Perlberger by the Elementary School Number 52 in Warsaw, Poland.