Zlata Distel is the daughter of Shmuel and Raschel (Nemzer) Distel. She was born July 9, 1926 in Vilna, where her father worked as a commercial printer. Zlata had two sisters, Rochel and Shifra. After the German invasion of Lithuania in 1941, the family was forced into the Vilna ghetto. In 1943 Zlata was sent with her family to the Kailis fur company, a factory camp located outside the borders of the ghetto, where they were employed manufacturing fur garments for the Germans. In March 1944 Zlata's younger sister, Shifra, was taken to Ponary and shot. Two months later, when the Kailis camp was liquidated, the rest of the family was deported first to the Kaiserwald concentration camp in Riga and then to Stutthof, near Gdansk. Zlata was in Stutthof only a few days before she was separated from her family and transferred to the Mühldorf labor camp in Bavaria. She was liberated there in May 1945. After the war Zlata learned that her father had drowned at sea during the evacuation from Stutthof, and that her mother and sister had died of typhus shortly before the liberation. In June 1945 Zlata moved into the Feldafing displaced persons camp, where she married Israel Malcmacher in August 1946 and gave birth to Rascha Riwka in 1948.
Israel (Izidor) Malcmacher is the son of Leib and Chaje Sara (Huberman) Malcmacher. He was born on October 2, 1916 in Przytyk, Poland, where his father was a shoemaker. He had three siblings: Moishe, Motel and Rushke. In October 1941 the family was resettled to the Radom ghetto, where Israel's father died several months later. Israel and his brothers smuggled themselves out of the ghetto in the middle of winter in order to give their father a proper burial with a makeshift grave marker. Before the liquidation of the ghetto, Israel's mother hid pieces of a gold chain in the heels of her shoes and in those of her children. From the ghetto Israel was sent to the Blizyn labor camp in Radom, where he was interned from September 1942 through July 1944. Subsequently, he was sent to a series of concentration camps in Austria: Mauthausen, Melk and Ebensee, before being liberated in May 1945. Convinced that he was the sole survivor of his family, Israel was overjoyed to find them all at the Feldafing displaced persons camp when he arrived in the fall of 1945. Israel's mother and sister had been deported from Radom to Auschwitz and then transferred to Theresienstadt, where they were liberated by the Soviets. They met up with Moishe and Motel in Feldafing shortly before Israel's arrival. Israel met Zlata Distel in Feldafing and was married in a double ceremony with his brother Motel and Lola Rolnik on August 27, 1946. Israel's mother, who had managed to keep her gold pieces during the war, had them fashioned into wedding bands for the ceremony. The Malcmachers remained in Feldafing through the spring of 1949 when they immigrated to the United States.