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Two Polish Jewish sisters pose for a photograph.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 41770

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    Two Polish Jewish sisters pose for a photograph.
    Two Polish Jewish sisters pose for a photograph.

Pictured are Sala and Sima Slomnicki.


    Two Polish Jewish sisters pose for a photograph.

    Pictured are Sala and Sima Slomnicki.
    Dabrowa Gornicza, [Zaglebie; Katowice] Poland
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Harry Birnholz

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Harry Birnholz

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Sally Birnholz (born Sala Slomnicki) is the daughter of Herzka Slomnicki and Ita (Szwarcberg). She was born on March 27, 1928 in Olkusz, Poland. She had four sisters, Lola (b. 1922), Sima (b. 1926), Yentel (b. 1930), Gruta (b. 1933), and two brothers Karol (b. 1935) and Israel (Srulek). Her paternal grandmother was Chana Ruchel Glickstein, and her maternal grandfather was Gershon Szwarcberg. In 1933 her family moved to Bedzin, where her parents owned a butcher shop and dealt in cattle. They lived in a comfortable apartment and made a good living. In 1939, Gershon Szwarcberg passed away and bequeathed his house in Dombrowa Gornicza to Sala's mother, so the family moved there.

    When the war broke out in September, German soldiers invaded Bedzin and began rounding up Jews. Sala's parents were able to maintain the butcher shop for a time, but after a few months restrictions were placed on the number of stores that were allowed to operate. They were forced to close their shop, but were able to enter into a partnership with other store owners in the area in order to remain in business as long as possible. At that same time, Sala and her siblings were prohibited from attending school. Although the Jewish community organized a school, frequent air raids made it was very dangerous for the children to be gathered together in one location, so it did not operate regularly.

    By 1941, the raids in Bedzin intensified, and by the winter Sala's father was taken away. The police had actually been searching for his brother, who had been operating in the black market, but when they could not find him, they took Herzka in his place. During his time in prison, Sala and Yentel smuggled food into him. Srulek, who was seventeen, volunteered to take his father's place, but instead was taken by the police as well. Sala never saw either her father or her brother again, but learned later that her father had been beheaded in Katowice on September 18, 1942.

    In August 1942, a major round-up was undertaken in the Zaglebie area, followed by a selection. Sala's two older sisters, Lola and Sima , were designated as "working" and could therefore remain in Bedzin. Sala was too young to work but since she was tall for her age, she was assigned to the labor camp Parschnitz, a subcamp of Gross Rosen. Her mother and two younger sisters were assigned to the "reclamation" group and were transported to Auschwitz shortly afterwards They did not survive.

    In Parschnitz Sala was trained as a spinner, and worked 10-hour days, five and a half days a week. On the remaining days she had additional duties, such as cleaning the camp, but could also volunteer for field work to obtain extra food rations. Life in the camp was difficult and food was in short supply but conditions were tolerable at that point. By the end of 1943, the Nazis began consolidating smaller camps into larger ones, and Parschnitz became part of the Gross Rosen camp system, under SS control. The camp population grew rapidly and living conditions worsened. As the war neared its end and Soviet troops were approaching, nearby factories began to close and camps to evacuate. Since Parschnitz was a supply camp, the workers there were not evacuated, but were instead sent to work on the railroads and to dig anti-air raid ditches. On Sunday, May 5, Sala and her group left for work as usual, returning in the evening. The following day when they awoke, they found that their guards had fled. At first, none of the workers dared to leave the camp. They realized that they could leave, but had nowhere to go. By May 8, Russian tanks arrived and the prisoners were told that they were free. Shortly thereafter, the Red Cross arrived and began caring for the survivors.

    Some time later, Sally located her sister Lola in Katowice, and her sister Sima in a small town. Sima emigrated in 1948-49. Sally and Lola traveled together to Regen Bayerishes Wald, Germany, where they stayed until 1947. In August 1947, Sally left Bremenhafen, Germany aboard the ship "Ernie Pyle" for New York. There, she met Leo Birnholz, another survivor, and they married on December 9, 1950.
    Record last modified:
    2011-11-08 00:00:00
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