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"Courier: a memoir"

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 1997.A.0061

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    Describes Leah Silverstein's reactions to the Holocaust.
    Collection Creator
    Leah H. Silverstein
    Leah Silverstein was born on Apr. 10, 1924, in Praga, Poland (a suburb of Warsaw). An important experience in her youth was being a member of Hashomer Hatzair, the Zionist scout organization. After World War II began in Poland and the bombing campaign had ended, the Germans occupied Praga. During this very restrictive time, Leah remained very involved with Hashomer Hatzair. Leah and her family were taken to the ghetto in Warsaw, Poland, when it opened in fall 1940. Leah lived on Hashomer Hatzair's kibbutz within the ghetto, and eventually escaped to live on a farm in Zarki, Poland (near Czestochowa). The farm was set up and run by members of Hashomer Hatzair. Leah stayed on the farm from Sept. 1941 until May 1942 and then became a courier and contact for Hashomer Hatzair, using false Polish papers. While in the ghetto, her father and grandmother both died of starvation. As a courier, Leah traveled between the ghetto in Kraków, Poland, and Płaszów concentration camp in Poland. When conditions worsened, she escaped to the ghetto in Tarnów, Poland, and returned to Kraków when she found that conditions in Tarnów were just as desperate. Using her false papers, Leah then escaped to the Aryan side and worked as a kitchen helper for a German hospital from Nov. 1942 until Mar. 1943. While working at the hospital, Leah stole a gun from a German soldier. Leah left her hospital job because she was informed that Arieh Wilner had been captured by the Gestapo and her whereabouts consequently might be revealed. Leah returned to the Czestochowa ghetto and then traveled to Warsaw where she planned to participate in the Warsaw ghetto uprising. She arrived too late to be trained, however, and the Hashomer Hatzair thought that she would be more helpful working undercover on the Aryan side. She was very active as a courier until the burning of the Warsaw ghetto after which she returned to Czestochowa. There, she first worked for a Soldatenheim, a German soldier's restaurant and hotel, and then as a maid for the family of a high-ranking Nazi military official. In Mar. 1944, Leah decided to run away and returned to Warsaw. She was engaged in underground activities for Zydowski Komitet Narodowy and Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa. During the time of the Warsaw Polish Uprising, Leah fought with a Jewish unit of the Armia Ludowa. From October until mid-Nov. 1944, she hid on Promyka street with a group of other people, including surviving members of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Leah was captured by the Germans but managed to escape and was liberated by the Russians while she was in Brwinów, Poland. After the war, Leah helped people to emigrate from Poland. In 1949, Leah immigrated to Israel. There she married Abraham Silberstein, a fellow resistance worker and member of Hashomer Hatzair. In 1968, her family left Israel and immigrated to the United States.

    Physical Details

    1 folder

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    The donor, source institution, or a third party has asserted copyright over some or all of these material(s). The Museum does not own the copyright for the material and does not have authority to authorize use. For permission, please contact the rights holder(s).

    Administrative Notes

    Donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1997 by Leah Silverstein
    Record last modified:
    2023-12-01 14:43:42
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