Tova Goldszer was born Tova Josefzohn on September 20, 1928, in Warsaw, Poland. Her mother, Sara Sztajner Josefzohn, died six days after Tova’s birth. Her father, Szaia Josefzohn, eventually remarried. He prepared lumber for construction and died before World War II. Tova had two older sisters: Jadzia who was ten years older and Rachela who was seven years older.
In 1939 Jadzia and her husband, Adek Brodza, escaped to Ruda Jaworska in the Soviet Union (now Belarus). The Germans rounded up all of the Jews in the town and shot them. Only one man survived by pretending to be dead, and he fled into the woods and joined the partisans. This man met Rachela in New York at a party where there were a number of Holocaust survivors. She happened to mention her sister and Ruda Jaworska, and the man told her what happened. This was how the family finally learned about Jadzia’s fate.
When their stepmother passed away in 1941, Tova and Rachela were living in the big ghetto in Warsaw where Rachela worked as a nurse. In 1942, Rachela was sent with a transport to the small ghetto in Warsaw, and Tova went with her. It was there that they found their mother’s twin brother, David Sztajner, and his family. A German soldier named Jan asked Tova if she could sew buttons on uniforms, and she was given a job at the Tebbins shop. One morning at 5:00, the Germans came and ordered everyone out of the apartment or they would be killed. Rachela hid herself, Tova, and an elderly woman in an attic space above the bathroom, but their Aunt Pesia and cousin, Eva, were taken away. Uncle David was at work at the time. Twice the Germans came into the bathroom, but they were not found. They heard a gunshot which was the sound of Eva being killed. Pesia was deported to Treblinka concentration camp where she perished. Two days later, David went to the Umschlagplatz in Warsaw, said that he wanted to go to join his family, and was then deported.
After the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw ghetto in April 1943, the Germans deported most of the remaining population in the ghetto to forced labor camps. Tova and Rachela were deported to Majdanek on May 3, 1943. They were in the barrack in front of the hospital, and one of the hospital’s managers was Pani Gaalova [first name unknown]. Pani Gaalova was Jewish but was posing as an Aryan. Pani Gaalova warned the sisters that going on the transport was better than remaining at Majdanek. The sisters were eventually sent to the Skarzysko-Kamienna camp where they worked in an ammunitions factory and then to Czestochowa where they also worked in an ammunitions shop. In January 1944 the Soviets liberated them.
Rachela and Tova went to a DP camp in the American zone. Rachela immigrated to the United States, and Tova went with the Jewish Brigade to Palestine. She met her husband, Pinchas Goldszer, while she was with this group. They were on board the illegal ship, Latrun, and were sent to Cyprus by the British. When they finally arrived in Palestine, Tova went to school in `Afulah and Pinchas went to live with an uncle in Tel Aviv. They were married in May 1948. In 1956 they immigrated to São Paulo, Brazil, and joined their family. Pinchas passed away in June 1988, and Tova immigrated to the United States in 1989.