Two Hasidic men sit on a park bench in Lodz.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 57839
1925 - 1939
- Variant Locale
- Photo Designation
LIFE BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST -- Poland -- Family/Friends/Portraits -- At Home/In Town
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Marilka (Mairanz) Ben Naim, Ita (Mairanz) Mond and Tuvia Mairanz
Two Hasidic men sit on a park bench in Lodz.
Tzvi Majranc is pictured on the left.
- Shifra Steffa Majranc (born Shifra Steffa Horowitz) is the daughter of Rabbi Tuvia Horowitz and Ita (Spira) Horowitz. She was born February 3, 1921 in Rzeszow, Poland. In 1932 she moved with her family to Sanok, where her father became the rabbi of the town. Shifra had three siblings: Menachem Mendel, Malka and Rivka (b. 1936). In December 1938 Shifra married Nechemia (Tadek) Majranc (later Mairanz), a rabbinical student from Lodz who came from a wealthy family of Gerer Chasidim. The young couple moved to Lodz and lived there in Nechemia's family residence, until talk of establishing the ghetto became a reality. Shifra and Nechemia miraculously received travel permits from a kind train station attendant (Jews were no longer given permits to travel) and they left for Krakow, where Shifra had cousins. She knew they would help take care of her in her pregnancy and birth. The couple gave birth to their first child, Miriam Dvora (Marilka), on April 12, 1940. As the situation deteriorated, the young family moved from place to place always one step ahead of the ghetto. They returned to Sanok where Shifra met an old friend of hers called Marysia, who was working for the Polish underground. She introduced Shifra to a member of the underground named Wladek, who Shifra then befriended. She helped in his efforts with underground and became a courier for him. She always brought Marilka with her wherever she went on underground business, both to protect her daughter and to make her appear less suspicious. When talk of a ghetto in Sanok began, they decided to go into hiding. Wladek was able to secure false papers for the three of them and they moved to Rzeszow; she was familiar with the city since she had lived there as a child, yet no one would recognize her. Shifra took on the name of Steffa, Nechemia became Tadek and Miriam acquired the name of Marilka. Steffa paid for housing and living expenses for the next two years with the proceeds from her diamond engagement ring that she sold bit by bit, and later from her earnings as a chambermaid in local hotels. Her husband, Tadek, who could not pass for a Pole, hid for these two years inside a closet in their apartment. After securing shelter for her immediate family, Steffa worked to find hiding places for her parents and three siblings. Because her parents spoke no Polish, Steffa was relieved when they managed to get papers from the Agudath Israel organization to escape to Hungary. They left on foot, leaving their younger children with a Polish friend in Sanok until Steffa could retrieve them They escaped through a forest but were forced to return after Ita fell and broke her leg. Subsequently, they were deported to the Sobibor death camp, where they were killed. Steffa delivered false papers to her three siblings in Sanok and instructed them to take the train to Krakow, where she would meet them and bring them to Rzeszow. Their plans went awry, however, when Menachem Mendel refused to shave his beard. As he looked recognizably Jewish, it was agreed that they would travel separately, but on the same train, so as not to endanger the lives of the others. Upon arrival at the train station, he was immediately arrested and shot. The two young sisters witnessed his death and departed on that train. They were also arrested when, in their upset and confusion, they got off at the wrong station. They taken away by the Gestapo and put in a dark cell with rodents. 15 year old Malka was subsequently taken out and murdered; shot in front of her 5 year old sister. Rivka lived to tell the story. She was turned over to the Jewish police and taken to the Krakow Ghetto. There, Rivka was found and taken in by her cousins, the Teitelbaums. The following year, in 1943, after coincidentally discovering her sister's whereabouts, Steffa arranged with her cousin, Ratza Teitelbaum, to smuggle Rivka out of the ghetto. Steffa retrieved Rivka after she was dropped by a group of slave laborers, among them Ratza’s brother Menashe Teitelbaum, along a designated place in the street. From there Steffa brought Rivka back to Rzeszow with her. Earlier Steffa also worked to smuggle her husband's mother (Brocha Majranc) and brothers (Levi, Yisroel and Mordechai) out of the Lodz ghetto. (Tadek's father, Tzvi, had died of dysentery in the early days of the Lodz ghetto.) All made it to Rzeszow except for Yisroel, who was arrested and murdered by the Nazis. For the remainder of the war, Steffa, disguised as an Aryan, Tadek and the two young girls (Marilka & Rivka) lived in one apartment, while Brocha and her two sons, also pretending to be Aryans, lived nearby. With the exception of Tadek, all of the members of the family were able to walk freely between the two apartments. During the final days of the war, Tadek was arrested with the Polish men who were taken by the Germans, during their retreat from the Russians. The bombing had become so intense that he was forced to exit from his hiding place and enter a shelter with the rest of the Poles. He was arrested with them, but ironically, not as a Jew. They were taken to a slave labor camp. Tadek knew that should he be discovered to be a Jew he would be killed immediately. Before the Germans were able to register their new inmates, Tadek, with great ingenuity, managed to escape the camp. Four days later he returned home to a liberated Rzeszow. In 1945, the entire Majranc family left Poland, traveling first to Austria, Hungary and Romania, before arriving in Italy where they stayed for two years. There Brocha and her two sons left with the Bricha to what was then Palestine and Steffa, Tadek and the girls waited for another boat. However, while they waited, they unexpectedly received American visas. It became known to Rabbi Yisroel Spira, the Bluzhover Rebbe, who had survived the war and was already in the United States, that they had survived. Since Steffa was his niece, he tried to do all he could to help her and her family. With the help of Rabbi Tuvia Horowitz's former contacts in the Agudath Israel organization, he was able to procure American visas, which were very hard to come by at that time, and bring them to America. In 1947, Steffa, Tadek and the two girls emigrated to the U.S. Later, Steffa gave birth to a second daughter, Ita (now, Ita Mond), and a son, Tuvia Mairanz. She is the grandmother of twenty nine grandchildren and great grandchildren.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Marilka (Mairanz) Ben Naim, Ita (Mairanz) Mond and Tuvia MairanzSource Record ID: Collections: 2005.218
Record last modified: 2012-04-03 00:00:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1143532