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Rachel Zonszajn Benshaul collection

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2012.318.1

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    The collection includes a diary written by Cypora Zonszajn while living in the Siedlce ghetto. The diary recounts Cypora's flight from her family home in the ghetto to an attic above the ghetto police command post with her daughter Rachel while part of the ghetto was forcibly evacuated in August 1942, including Rachel's paternal grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Through information received by someone who escaped, Cypora writes that people are being deported to Treblinka and details the events leading to their deaths. The diary was written in Polish and entrusted to Irena Zawadzka and Zofia Olszakowska, who both saved and hid Rachel in eastern Poland during the war. Also included are three photographs and a postwar letter written by Zofia to Rachel's paternal uncle Szymon Jablon in Palestine in 1945.
    inclusive:  1942-1945
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Estate of Rachel Zonszajn Benshaul
    Collection Creator
    Cypora Zonszajn
    Cypora Cypa Zonszajn (née Jabłoń, 1915-1942) was born in 1915 in Poland and had an older brother, Szymon (later Simon). While in school, Cypora befriended two non-Jewish girls, Zofia Olszakowska (later Glazer, 1915-2007) and Irena Zawadzka and they stayed close friends. Upon graduating from high school, Cypora attended the Institute of Agriculture in Warsaw in preparation for joining Szymon in Palestine. Around August 1941 Cypora, her husband, Jakub Zonszajn, and their daughter, Rachel (born Rachela, 1941-2002), were forced into the Siedlce ghetto. In October 1942, Cypora fled the ghetto with a friend, Dorota Monczyk, taking Rachel with her. They hid with the Zawadzka family until Cypora decided to return to the ghetto to be with her husband and parents, but Rachel stayed with the family. In fall 1942, Cypora wrote about the liquidation of the Siedlce ghetto in her diary and gave it to the Zawadzka family along with a letter to Sabina Zawadzka entrusting Rachel to her. Rachel’s name was changed to Maria Jozafa and she continued to live with the family. After two months, Irena Zawadzka obtained false documentation for Rachel and arranged for her to stay at a local convent. Irena visited Rachel frequently and took her back home after she became ill.

    Rachel remained with the Zawadzka family until the summer of 1943 when Zofia Olszakowska took her to a village near Lublin where she lived with Irena Olszakowska, Zofia’s sister. Zofia arranged for a birth certificate under the name “Maria Tymińska” and Rachel lived with Irena for six months. In winter 1944, Zofia took Rachel to Sobieszyn, near Pulawy. After the Soviet Army liberated the area in July 1944, Zofia and Rachel remained in Sobieszyn until June 1945 when they returned to Siedlce and Rachel went back to live with Irena Zawadzka. Irena contacted Szymon in Palestine and he requested that Rachel be placed in a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw in order for them to be reunited in Palestine as soon as possible. In December 1945 Zofia took Rachel to Warsaw and a short time later she was transferred to an orphanage in France. Two years later she was reunited with her uncle in Palestine. According to witnesses, Cypora committed suicide by taking a pill containing poison before deportation and Jakub was deported to Treblinka where he perished.

    In 1988 Zofia Olszakowska, Irena Zawadzka and her mother, and Sabina Zawadzka were honored as Righteous Among the Nations.

    Physical Details

    1 folder

    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.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Siedlce (Poland)

    Administrative Notes

    Donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Gal Benshaul.
    Funding Note
    The accessibility of this collection was made possible by the generous donors to our crowdfunded Save Their Stories campaign.
    Special Collection
    Save Their Stories
    Record last modified:
    2024-04-11 13:18:49
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