- The papers consists of three photographs of the Kerpholtz family and friends and two postcards sent from the ghetto in Lʹwow, Poland, (now Lʹviv, Ukraine) to Betty Köppel (one was written by Natan Kerpholtz [donor's father]).
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Sophia Kalski
- Collection Creator
- Sophia Kalski
Sofia (Zosia) Korpoltz was born on January 7, 1933, in Trembowla, Poland (Terebovlia, Ukraine), to Nachum Natan, born in 1905 and Sidonia Sara Stern Korpoltz, born in 1910, also in Trembowla. Natan was a radio technician. The family was not particularly observant of Jewish traditions, though Sara had been raised in a Jewish observant home.
After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Trembowla came under Soviet occupation for a year and a half. Then, in June 1941 Germany launched an attack on the Soviet Union, and the town was occupied by the Germans. In the second half of 1942, Germans forced the Jews into a ghetto. Natan Korpoltz managed to escape to Lvov, Poland (Lviv, Ukraine), while Sofia stayed in her grandfather's house in Trembowla, together with her mother. Natan found a family willing to hide Sofia, since she was blond and people would easily assume that she wasn't Jewish. However, the family soon decided that it was too dangerous and Sofia was sent back to her father to the ghetto. Natan worked as a forced laborer and they moved frequently around the ghetto, sleeping on stairs and in hallways.
The Lvov ghetto was sealed in the fall of 1942. The long days when her father was at work were difficult for Sophia, as it was rarely safe enough for children to go out and play. When they did, as Sophie recalled later, they always played the same game, building bridges. And as she remembers them, the games “lacked the joy of childhood. Already then, the children didn’t know how to laugh.” Food was scarce. In early December, Sofia and her father sold all of their possessions to purchase one bowl of soup and a potato at the restaurant in the ghetto. There were frequent Aktionen, when the Germans would round up Jews for deportation to death camps. During an Aktion on January 5 and 6, 1943, Sophia hid, without her father, in a basement with strangers. They hid behind a dividing wall made of thick green bottles. Sophia could see the flashlights of the German soldiers as they searched for Jews, but they left without noticing the hidden room. The people in a nearby house refused to let the Germans inside, so the soldiers sealed the house and set it on fire. Sophia remembers watching them gather corpses for two days following this Aktion.
At the end of January 1943 Sofia's father died of typhus at the Lvov ghetto hospital. Seeing her waiting there, a friend of her father’s told her to leave and to try to get back to Trembowla. At the end of March Sofia escaped through a hole in the fence of the ghetto. Friends arranged to have a non-Jewish woman help Sofia reach Trembowla.
She was smuggled into the Trembowla ghetto where living conditions worsened substantially. About three months after her return, the Germans began the liquidation of the ghetto. During one of the round-ups Sofia and her mother escaped to nearby wheat field. The mother of one of Sofia’s non-Jewish classmates brought them food and water for several weeks until they were warned that it was too dangerous to stay in that area. They walked through the forest to Umniska village (Humnyska), where Sofie’s maternal grandparents, Meir Stern, b. 1882, and Rena Koppel Stern , b. 1885, had lived before the war. By 1943, they and their daughter, Bronia, had been deported and murdered in the Belzec death camp. The first few former neighbors they contacted were fearful and agreed to help them only for a few days. Anna and Wojtek Gutonski, a Catholic couple with 4 children, agreed to hide them for as long it seemed possible. Sofia and her mother hid on their farm for 8 months, often lying on their backs in a hole dug in the ground beneath the barn. The village was liberated by the Soviet Army in March 1944. Sofia and her mother eventually emigrated to Israel. Sarah died, age 83 years, in 1993. Sofia Kalski painted images depicting her wartime experiences. She died in 2012.
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- Conditions on Access
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Keywords & Subjects
- Holder of Originals
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Sophia Kalski.
- Record last modified:
- 2023-08-14 10:23:32
- This page:
Also in Sophia Kalski and Sarah Kerpholz collection
The collection consists of artifacts, documents, and photographs relating to the experience of Sophia Kalski and Sarah Kerpholz while living in Trembowla and in hiding in Poland during the Holocaust.
Slip worn by Sarah Kerpholz during the period of the Holocaust. Sarah, age 33, and her family were forced by the occupying German authorities into the Jewish ghetto in Trembowla, Poland (Terebovlia, Ukraine), in 1942. Her husband, Natan, escaped to Lvov, but ended up in the ghetto there. Their 10-year-old daughter, Zosia (Sophia), was sent to him, with the intent to find her a safe hiding place. But Natan, age 38, died of typhus in January 1943, and Zosia had to escape and get back to Trembowla on her own. In 1943, Sarah and Zosia escaped from the ghetto as it was being liquidated. They eventually reached Humniska, Poland, where former neighbors of Sarah's parents, Anna and Voitek Gutonski, hid them in a barn with an underground hiding place for over 8 months, until the Soviet army liberated the area in March 1944.
Armband worn by Sarah Kerpholz in the Trembowla ghetto in Poland. Sarah, age 33, and her family were forced by the occupying German authorities into the Jewish ghetto in Trembowla, Poland (Terebovlia, Ukraine), in 1942. Her husband, Natan, escaped to Lvov, but ended up in the ghetto there. Their 10-year-old daughter, Zosia (Sophia), was sent to him, with the intent to find her a safe hiding place. But Natan, age 38, died of typhus in January 1943, and Zosia had to escape and get back to Trembowla on her own. In 1943, Sarah and Zosia escaped from the ghetto as it was being liquidated. They eventually reached Humniska, Poland, where former neighbors of Sarah's parents, Anna and Voitek Gutonski, hid them in a barn with an underground hiding place for over 8 months, until the Soviet army liberated the area in March 1944.