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Chaya Kleinhandler poses with her two nieces, Zosa (left) and Pesele (right) Moszenberg in Chmielnik, Poland.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 96900

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    Chaya Kleinhandler poses with her two nieces, Zosa (left) and Pesele (right) Moszenberg in Chmielnik, Poland.
    Chaya Kleinhandler poses with her two nieces, Zosa (left) and Pesele (right) Moszenberg in Chmielnik, Poland.


    Chaya Kleinhandler poses with her two nieces, Zosa (left) and Pesele (right) Moszenberg in Chmielnik, Poland.
    Chmielnik, [Kielce] Poland
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Varda Kleinhandler Cohen

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Varda Kleinhandler Cohen

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Bluma Godzinski (nee Kleinhandler) is the daughter of Chaim and Chaya (Becker) Kleinhandler. She was born February 13, 1919 in Chmielnik, Poland, where her father owned a machine shop that produced machinery for manufacturing candles, bicycle frames and other metal products. Bluma had four brothers: Avram (Arthur, b. 1913), Leibisz (Leon, b. 1915), Moshe (Moniek, b. 1917) and Kalman (b. 1921). After the German invasion Bluma remained in Chmielnik with her family. They lived in the small open ghetto that was established soon after the entry of German troops into the town. When a local Jewish council was established (headed first by Abram Langwald and afterwards by Shmuel Zalcman), Bluma was asked to serve as secretary because of her knowledge of German and her office skills. On October 6, 1942 the Germans, together with an auxiliary Ukrainian police unit, unleashed the first of several deportation actions in Chmielnik. On that day, approximately 13,000 Jews were removed from the ghetto by horse-drawn wagons and later transported by train to Treblinka. When the ghetto was liquidated, only about 70 Jews were permitted to remain. Bluma and her family (with the exception of Leibisz) numbered among this group. They were probably selected because of the valuable role the Kleinhandlers played in repairing machinery and other items for the Germans. Leibisz and his wife had gone into hiding with a Polish farmer shortly before the October action. The couple were killed the following year by the same farmer. In November 1942 the Kleinhandlers were sent from Chmielnik to the HASAG munitions factory camp in Kielce. During their period in Kielce Bluma's mother was deported to Auschwitz, where she remained until the camp was liberated by the Russians on January 27, 1945. She avoided being sent out of the camp on a forced march a few weeks earlier by hiding beneath a set of steps.
    The Kleinhandlers who remained in Kielce were transferred to the HASAG factory camp in Czestochowa in 1944. When the Germans were forced to retreat in the face of the advancing Soviet army, the factory camp was evacuated in January 1945 and its prisoners sent by train to Germany. Bluma, her sister-in-law Mania (Scheiber) Kleinhandler (the wife of Avram), and the other female prisoners were deposited in Bergen-Belsen, while Bluma's father and brothers, Avram, Moshe and Kalman, were taken with the other male inmates to Buchenwald. From Bergen-Belsen, Bluma and Mania were moved to Bergau and then Tuerkheim. Bluma remained in Tuerkheim until the liberation, while Mania was put on a forced march to Dachau-Allach, where she was liberated on April 25. In Buchenwald, the Kleinhandler men were separated. When Chaim, Avram and Moshe were put on a forced march, Kalman remained behind. He died a short time later. The others were liberated by the Russian army while on the march.

    In the summer of 1945 Bluma returned to Chmielnik, where the family had arranged to meet when the war was over. Her mother was already there, and they were soon joined by her father, Avram and Moshe. The following year Bluma married Zygmunt Godzinski, a survivor from Kielce, whom she had met at the HASAG munitions factory camp. He had been transferred with the Kleinhandlers to Czestochowa and from there to Buchenwald. The couple was married in1946 in Chorzow, and shortly afterward immigrated to Argentina, where Zygmunt had an uncle. The Godzinskis settled in Buenos Aires, and Zygmunt initially went to work in his uncle's factory. Subsequently, he opened a dry goods business of his own. Bluma's parents and brother, Moshe, immigrated to Israel, where they opened a machine shop in Jaffa. Shortly after his return to Poland, Avram teamed up with his Josef Kleinert (Mania's uncle) to organize an ORT vocational training school in Chorzow. When he learned a few months later that his wife, Mania, was alive and living at the Feldafing displaced persons camp near Munich, he left Poland to join her. Mania had an uncle in New York who sponsored them to come to the United States. They sailed from Germany in May 1946 on board the Marine Flasher, the first American ship to carry Jewish DPs to the US under the Truman Plan. In Buenos Aires, Bluma started a family, giving birth to two sons, Manuel and Carlos. However, in 1953 she suffered a mental breakdown and from then on struggled with depression and other forms of mental illness. After Zygmunt's death Manuel moved to Los Angeles and Carlos to Israel. Tragically, both sons died at the age of 36 (of natural causes). Bluma currently resides in Israel.
    Record last modified:
    2006-09-06 00:00:00
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