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Łódź Ghetto grave marker for a Jewish woman recovered by her daughter

Object | Accession Number: 2003.176.1

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    Łódź Ghetto grave marker for a Jewish woman recovered by her daughter

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    Brief Narrative
    Engraved marker for the grave of Chaja Gitla Fortunska recovered in Łódź, Poland, after the war by her daughter Alicja Dworzecka. On January 28, 1943, Chaja, 55, was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Łódź Ghetto, having passed away after unsuccessful intestinal surgery at the ghetto hospital. Chaja, husband Jankiel, children Dawid, Alicja, and Moniek, with their spouses, were residents of Łódź, which was occupied by Germany in September 1939. Many punitive restrictions were placed on the Jewish populace, including forced labor and confiscation of property. Jews were interned in a ghetto which, by April 1940, was closed off by barbed wire. Living conditions were atrocious, with extreme overcrowding, starvation, illness, and lack of sanitation. Chaja's children Moniek and Alicja, and their spouses, fled the ghetto by early 1941. Alicja survived the war in Uzbekistan. The rest of her family perished.
    commemoration:  1943 January 28
    recovered:  1946
    use: Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland); Łódź (Poland)
    recovery: Łódź (Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Alicja Herszkowicz Dworzecka
    front, engraved, painted : Hebrew text [Buried here is H' Gitel (bat) daughter of Tsvi Natan Hershkovits - 22 Shevat Ta"shag (1943).
    Subject: Chaja G. Herszkowicz
    Subject: Alicja Dworzecka
    Chaja Gitla Fortunska was born in 1887, in the Russian Empire, to Zvi Natan and Alta Perla Fortunski. She married Jankiel Herszkowicz, a merchant. He was born on January 18, 1883, in Russia, to a Jewish couple. Chaja and Jankiel settled in Łódź and had three children: Dawid born in 1910, Szajndla Laja Sala, called Ala, born in 1912, and Moniek, born in 1914. Dawid became an electrical engineer and married Bronka. Ala attended the local university and married Antonii Grosman in 1938. Moniek became an accountant and married Rozka.

    In September 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland. Germany occupied regions west of the Bug River, the Soviet Union occupied those to the east. Łódź, later renamed Litzmannstadt, was in the German occupied region. Several months after the occupation, Chaja’s daughter Ala and her son-in-law Antonii crossed the river into the Soviet region. In Łódź, the Germans established a ghetto where Chaja and her family were forced to move. It was closed off by barbed wire in April and residents were not permitted to leave. Chaja’s son Moniek and his wife Rozka escaped and settled in Soviet occupied Rowne (Rivne, Ukraine). In early June 1941, Chaja sent a postcard to Ala and Antonii to assure them that the family was healthy and that she hoped Ala and Moniek would reunite soon. In mid-January 1943, Chaja was admitted to the ghetto hospital for surgery for twisted bowels. It was unsuccessful and Chaja, 55, passed away on January 19. Her husband Jankiel buried her in the Jewish cemetery on January 28, and had an engraved marker made for her grave.
    Szajndla (Sala Laja) Herszkowicz (Ala, later Alicja Dworzecka) was born on May 22, 1912, in Brzeziny, Russia (Poland), to a Jewish couple, Jankiel and Chaja Gitla Fortunska Herszkowiz. Jankiel was born on January 18, 1883, in Russia. Chaja Gitla was born in 1887 in Russia to Zvi Natan and Alta Perla Fortunski. Ala had two brothers: Dawid born in 1910, and Moniek born in 1914. Ala’s family moved to Łódź, Poland, where her father was a merchant. Dawid married Bronka and was an electrical engineer. Moniek married Rozka and was an accountant. Ala attended university in Łódź. In 1938, Ala married Antonii Grosman.

    In September 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland. Germany occupied regions west of the Bug River, the Soviet Union occupied those to the east. Łódź was in the German occupied region. Not long after, Ala and Antonii crossed the Bug River and went to Malkinia, and then to Bialystok. Ala heard that that her parents, Jankiel and Chaja, her brothers, Dawid and Moniek, and their wives had been forced to move to the ghetto in Łódź. In early 1941, Ala and Antonii moved to Grodno (Hrodna, Belarus), and were in Luniniec (Luninets, Belarus) by May. In early June, Ala received a postcard from her parents. They assured her that they, Dawid, and Bronka were healthy. They hoped that she would be reunited with Moniek and Rozka, who had escaped to Soviet controlled Rowne (Rivne, Ukraine) in 1940. Ala’s husband Antonii was arrested and transported to a Soviet labor camp. In late June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. An agreement made earlier that year allowed Polish refugees to leave Siberia for other areas of the Soviet Union. Ala moved to Kokand, Uzbekistan, and worked as an accountant. In March 1943, Polish communists, controlled by Stalin, created the Union of Polish Patriots. In May, this group formed the first division of the Polish People’s Army. Not long after its formation, Ala joined a unit of the army. In early 1945, Ala’s unit reached Warsaw, which was liberated in January. On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered. Her husband Antonii never returned.

    In July 1945, Ala married a fellow Holocaust survivor, Arkadiusz Dworzecki. Arkadiusz was born on June 11, 1910, in Vilna, Russia (Vilnius, Lithuania), to Jakub and Helena Dworzecki. He had two younger siblings: Wita and Lulek. In September 1939, Arkadiusz was in Warsaw when Germany invaded Poland. He returned to Soviet controlled Vilna and was sent to work in an ammunition factory in the Ural Mountains. After the war, he returned to Warsaw and learned that all of his family had perished. In 1946, Ala returned to Łódź, and found her mother Chaja’s grave marker in the Jewish cemetery. Her mother had died in Łódź Ghetto on January 19, 1943, following an unsuccessful surgery at the ghetto hospital. Ala later learned that her brother Moniek and pregnant sister-in-law Rozka were killed in Rowne, following the German invasion. Her father Jankiel was transported to Auschwitz and killed on August 29, 1944. Ala’s brother Dawid was deported to a slave labor camp in Germany. He died in 1945, during a death march. His wife Bronka perished.

    In 1948, Ala and Arkadiusz adopted Marysia Rozenszajn, a recently orphaned Jewish child. Marysia was born on June 19, 1941, in Soviet occupied Bialystok, Poland, to Izak and Bela Kaufman Rozenszajn. Two days later, Marysia’s father Izak was killed. In November 1943, Marysia’s mother Bela was deported. In 1946, Marysia reunited with Bela, who was killed two years later. In 1968, Marysia immigrated to the United States and changed her name to Maria. Arkandiusz, 71, died in Warsaw. Ala moved to the US, but returned to Poland in 2004.

    Physical Details

    Jewish Art and Symbolism
    Physical Description
    Flat, corroded metal panel, rectangular with rounded left corners. Four lines of black painted, etched Hebrew text are centered within an etched line border on the front. There is a small, circular hole at the center.
    overall: Height: 5.625 inches (14.287 cm) | Width: 6.875 inches (17.463 cm)
    overall : metal, paint

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The grave marker was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Alicja Herszkowicz Dworzecka, the daughter of Chaja Herszkowicz.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2024-05-30 13:36:44
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