Jewish DPs attend a memorial service to the victims of the Holocaust.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 60785
1946 - 1947
- Photo Designation
DISPLACED PERSONS/RETURN TO LIFE -- DP Camps/Postwar Communities -- Germany -- Hasenecke
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Morris and Lala Fishman
Jewish DPs attend a memorial service to the victims of the Holocaust.
Morris Fishman is standing on the far left behind the cantor.
- Clara (Lala) Weintraub (later Fishman) is the daughter of Ilya and Olga (Rosenwald) Weintraub. She was born November 17, 1922 in Kamenets-Podolsk, but her family moved to Lvov soon after her birth. Lala had an older brother, Fima, and a younger sister, Rysia (b. 1931). Lala's father worked as a professional musician in Lvov, where he played jazz saxophone in several nightclubs. He later became chairman of Lvov's musicians' union. Lala attended a Jewish girls' school and privately studied French and ballet. Her brother attended Polish and Ukrainian public schools. He also was a talented athlete who played semi-professional soccer. His experiences with antisemitism eventually turned him to Zionism, and he joined the Hanoar Hatzioni youth movement. A few weeks after the outbreak of World War II, Lvov fell under Soviet occupation. By coincidence, Ilya's sister Yunia and her husband, who was a soldier in Soviet army, were sent to Lvov, and they were able to assist the Weintraubs for a time. In 1940 Fima was drafted into the Soviet army, where he served as a lieutenant. Following the German re-occupation of Lvov in June 1941, day to day life became very difficult for the Weintraubs. Lala's sister, Rysia, who did not look Jewish, did the family shopping since it was safest for her to navigate through the city. Ilya found work as a night watchman for a Luftwaffe underwear factory, and Lala got a job there sewing. In October 1941 the Germans ordered all Jews to move to the ghetto. The Weintraubs shipped some of their belongings to their new quarters, but decided to remain in their own apartment and wait and see what developed. They let the deadline pass without entering the ghetto. One night a man in a tattered Russian uniform came and told them that Fima was alive and hiding outside of the city. He promised that if the family gave him money and clothing, he would bring him home. Though Lala's family doubted the man was telling the truth, they felt they could not miss a possible opportunity to help their son. Lala snuck into the ghetto to retrieve their belongings. She found their trunk, but its contents had been stolen, and she had to return home empty-handed. Ilya gave the stranger what he could scrounge up. The stranger took the money, disappeared and never came back. In fact, Fima was at that time heading an artillery battery near Leningrad. When Fima failed to come home, Olga fell into a depression. Ilya then prepared a plan to save Lala. Without telling her, he asked a Polish acquaintance to marry Lala and take her to Warsaw to live as a Pole. Lala learned of the scheme about an hour before the wedding was scheduled to take place. She refused to take part, and her parents were forced to abandon the plan. Soon afterwards, several family members were arrested in rapid succession, including two of Lala's uncles and her father. All of them perished. A few days later, Lala was arrested on the street and taken to the Janowska concentration camp. Taking advantage of the general disorder she encountered when she arrived at the camp, Lala held up her identification card and walked confidently up to a group of women who were about to be released. The guards assumed she was part of this group and sent her back with them to Lvov. Soon after her return, her grandmother was arrested in her apartment. When Lala's aunt Haika went to look for the grandmother, she too disappeared. Now only Lala, her mother and her sister remained from the once large family. They were soon joined by Mila, a former girlfriend of Fima's, who was the sole survivor of her family. Lala decided they should leave Lvov and go into hiding. Polish friends helped them obtain false papers and taught them the rudiments of Catholic observance. Lala assumed the name of Urszula Krzyzanowska. Wearing crosses and Polish peasant dresses the four women boarded a train for Sanok. When the train arrived in Sambor, members of the SS detained all the passengers, while they searched for escaping Jews. Olga and Rysia were placed in one cell, and Lala and Mila, in another. Lala and Mila convinced their interrogators that they were Poles and were released, but they never saw Olga and Rysia again. After their release, Lala and Mila fled to Krakow, where Lala found work as a bookkeeper in a grocery store owned by an ethnic German. She and Mila shared a room until Mila suddenly announced she was getting married to a Pole she had met at work. (After the war Mila converted to Catholicism and broke off all ties to her previous life.) One day in March or April 1944 Lala was arrested on her way to work. She was held in a cell for seven days and then taken out for interrogation. Lala decided to go on the offensive and began screaming how dare they a Catholic Pole who had important work to do. The police were so stunned they let her go. She returned to work assuming the danger had passed. However, the next day a man came to her and said that he knew she was Jewish and threatened to expose her unless she gave him money. Lala promised to pay the following day, but instead left town. Three days later she was rearrested but again managed to escape and catch a train to Radom. There, she got a job as a dishwasher in a restaurant after reporting to the labor office. However, when she discovered that most of the clientele were members of the SS, she requested different work more commensurate with her education. She then was given work as a bookkeeper on a large farm, where she remained for some months. Shortly before the end of the war, she moved to Katowice, where she was liberated on January 28, 1945. Through the Red Cross she sent a letter to her mother's brother Isadore in the United States. To her surprise, not only did he answer, but he also put her in touch with Fima who was living in Palestine under the name, Chaim Carmi. Fima had made his way from Russia to Iran with the Anders Army. There, he was recruited by the Palmach and sent to Palestine. Lala was surprised when another of her mother's brothers, Herman, found her at work. He and his family had survived the war hiding and were preparing to leave for Germany in the hopes of ultimately immigrating fto the U.S. They asked her to come along and she immediately packed her belongings. They made their way to the Hasenecke displaced persons' camp near Kassel. There, Lala fell in love with the camp's director, Rabbi Morris Fishman, who had studied in the yeshivot of Lomza and Mir before the war. He joined the JDC in 1946 and was sent to Kassel to direct the camps in that vicinity. Lala and Morris were married on November 30, 1947 in Passau, Germany.
[Source: Fishman, Lala and Weingartner, Steven. Lala's Story: A Memoir of the Holocaust. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1997]
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Morris and Lala FishmanSource Record ID: Collections: 2000.498
Record last modified: 2011-07-07 00:00:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1151418