Lola Kaufman papers
The papers consist of a passport issued to Etie Stempler, the late wife of Lola Kaufman's maternal uncle, Gedalia Aschkenase, who immigrated to the United States in 1930 as well as a newspaper clipping from the New York Post, dated June 26, 1962, referring to Heinrich Peckmann, an SS sergeant in Chortkiv (Czortków), Ukraine, who was acquitted by a German court in Saarbrücken, Germany. Peckmann murdered Lola Kaufman's mother, Dwojre Rein, in 1942.
- Document Creator
- Lola Kaufman
Loncia Rein was born on October 4, 1934, in Czortkow, Poland (now Chortkiv, Ukraine), to Yidl Yehuda and Dvoire Aschkenase Rein. Loncia, called Lola, was an only child. Both sides of her family were from Czortkow. Her father Yidl was born in 1889, the only child of Yakov and Reisil Nadler Rein. Yakov and Reisil owned a bakery. Lola’s mother Dvoire was born in 1900 to Nachman and Ethel Salzinger Aschkenase. Nachman and Ethel, called Ekka, owned a tin shop. Dvoire had four brothers: Shmiel, Itce, Shia, and Gedale. Lola and her parents lived with her maternal grandparents in the apartment behind the tin shop. Yidl owned an upholstery store nearby. They lived in a Jewish area of the city. They kept kosher and spoke Yiddish and Polish. Lola attended a nursery school.
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and on September 17, the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland, including Czortkow. Lola and her mother went to see the Soviets march in, but shooting started so they hid in a building until they could go home. The Soviets nationalized all businesses, and Lola’s father Yidl and grandfather Nachman lost their workshops. Yidl took a job as a baker for the Soviet Army. Lola saw Soviet soldiers shoot a man in the marketplace. On June 22, 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. The Soviet Army fled Czortkow and many Jews fled east with them, including Lola’s maternal uncles Itce and Gedale, who went to Lwow (Lviv, Ukraine). On July 6, the German Army occupied Czortkow. A Jewish council was established by the Germans to organize and control the Jewish population for them. Jews were soon required to wear Star of David armbands. The Germans began conducting Aktions in August, killing Jews or sending them to concentration and labor camps. Lola’s oldest maternal uncle Shmiel and his family were killed during the first Aktion. Her uncle Shia was sent to a labor camp outside Czortkow.
On April 1, 1942, the ghetto was created. By this time, the Jewish population had been reduced from 8,000 to 6,800. Lola’s home was at the edge of the ghetto, so they did not have to move. Lola’s maternal grandfather Nachman became ill and died. In the summer, Lola’s father Yidl was severely beaten by a group of Ukrainians. As a result, he became ill and died. Lola’s paternal grandmother Reisil also died in 1942. In August and October, over 2,000 Jews were sent to Belzec killing center and Janowska concentration camp in mass deportation Aktions. Dvoire and Ekka had been warned beforehand, so the family hid between two walls in a storage building by their apartment. Another family hid in a different place in the same room. German and Ukrainian authorities searched the room and found the other family. The man told them that there were more Jews hiding in the room, so they continued searching. Dvoire held her hand tightly over Lola’s mouth, so she would not make a sound. The Germans banged on the wall, but did not find them. Dvoire became a seamstress for the Germans and had a special pass to leave the ghetto for work. On March 21, 1943, on Purim, Dvoire, her cousin, and two other women were arrested by an SS sergeant on their way to work. He took them to the jailhouse and shot them. People came to their home and told Ekka and Lola what had happened.
Ekka arranged for Lola, then 9, to hide with a Ukrainian woman who used to deliver milk to the family. Circa May, Lola snuck out of the ghetto at night. She went to the river and hid under a bridge until the woman arrived. Lola gave her a tin cup made by her grandfather, which had coins hidden under the false bottom. Lola and the woman walked through the fields until they reached her house. Lola had to stay inside in a narrow room. Whenever the dog barked because someone was at the door, Lola hid under the bed. A few times people saw Lola because the dog did not bark. Lola could not speak Ukrainian, so the family said that she was a relative who was deaf and mute. The woman’s daughter and son-in-law also lived in the house. Her son-in-law hated Jews and treated Lola terribly. He told his mother-in-law that if she did not send Lola away, he would take her to the Gestapo. In the middle of the night in August, the woman woke Lola and took her to her sister, Mrs. Zacharczak. She was already hiding a Jewish woman, Roza Kalisher, her teenage brother, Duzco, and her daughter, Betka, in a hole dug in the barn. Mrs. Zacharczak’s son was a Ukrainian policeman and would have killed them if he knew about them. They could only leave the hole to go to the bathroom and had to stay quiet. They lived in terrible conditions, with very little food. They could not bathe and became infested with lice. Roza and her family were not happy that they had to share their limited food and space with another person and mistreated Lola. In March 1944, Soviet forces liberated the area. Mrs. Zacharczak told them it was safe to return home, but they had to sneak out at night, so that no one would know she had hidden Jews.
Lola and the Kalishers returned to Czortkow. Lola learned that she had no family left. Her grandmother Ekka and uncle Shia had been killed when the ghetto was liquidated on June 16, 1943. Roza told Lola that she would not take care of her. Lola found her uncle Shia’s brother-in-law, but he refused to help her. Lola joined a group of refugees leaving Czortkow and walked in the snow until she fainted. A Jewish man who was a friend of her father saw her and carried her on his back. He was too weak to care for her, but a group of Soviet soldiers approached and said they would take her. They brought her to their barracks, where she could eat and rest. After a few days, the soldiers left and Lola was alone again. She begged for food on the streets. Eventually, a Soviet soldier offered to take her to an orphanage in Kiev. His orders changed on the way, so he left her in Gritsev (now Hrytsiv, Ukraine) with the mayor. A Jewish man, Sergei, offered to take care of her. She stayed with Sergei and his family and attended school. Lola’s maternal uncle Gedale had survived and was searching for Lola. He had been imprisoned in Lwow ghetto and Janowska concentration camp and escaped in October 1943, living in hiding until liberation. His wife did not survive. Lola’s maternal uncle Itce also survived. Gedale remarried and lived in Krakow with his wife Estera (1920-2006), and their daughter Ada, born in 1945. Gedale sent a friend to get Lola and they were reunited in Krakow.
Gedale wanted to immigrate to the United States or Palestine, so the family illegally traveled from Poland to Germany. They went to Czechoslovakia, then Austria, staying in camps in Linz and Vienna. In late 1945, the family arrived in Germany. They lived in Eschwege displaced persons camp. Lola attended school, joined a Zionist organization, and took English lessons. In 1947, Gedale and Estera had a son, Nachman. In April 1949, Eschwege closed, so they moved to Kassel DP camp. On June 29, 1949, Lola and her family sailed from Bremerhaven on the USAT General Sturgis, arriving in Boston on July 1. They settled in New York. Gedale Americanized his name to George. Lola attended high school, then worked in a department store. In 1951, Lola began dating Walter Kaufman, who was born as Wolf Kaufman on January 26, 1923, in Polaniec, Poland, to Majer and Ruchel Pfeffer Kaufman. Walter and two of his brothers survived the Holocaust in hiding. Their parents and two other siblings perished. On May 3, 1953, Lola and Walter married. The couple settled in Long Island and had three children. Lola’s uncle George, 90, died on March 14, 2001. Lola, 79, passed away on October 1, 2014.
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Lola Kaufman.
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Record last modified: 2021-11-10 13:02:12
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