Sala Kirschner, 94, Whose Trove of Letters Informed of the Holocaust, Dies

Sala Kirschner, 94, Whose Trove of Letters Informed of the Holocaust, Dies

Mrs. Kirschner and her husband, Sidney, had raised three youngsters in Monsey, N.Y. He was a G.I. when he noticed his future spouse within the girls’s balcony at a Rosh Hashana service quickly after the warfare and introduced her to the USA as a warfare bride.

Within the Nazi camps, Mrs. Kirschner hid the letters in barracks niches or buried them in soil, risking punishment in the event that they have been found. She had held onto them, she mentioned, as a result of they have been her solely hyperlink to a household that she believed she would possibly by no means see once more.

“If I used to be lonely, I might take out these letters and skim them time and again,” Mrs. Kirschner, a soft-spoken girl with energetic blue eyes, informed The New York Occasions in 2005. “It was my manner of feeling near them.”

She later stored them hidden from her youngsters as a result of she was afraid that her full story of the Holocaust — her dad and mom have been gassed at Auschwitz, and 4 siblings have been killed within the warfare — would wound them emotionally.

“I needed to boost them in a standard manner and never have them tackle the burden of their mom,” Mrs. Kirschner mentioned.


Mrs. Kirschner, then Sala Garncarz, at age 12.

The Germans, needing slave labor of their drive to gobble up Europe, herded Jews right into a constellation of camps — some in city factories, some at sprawling websites like Auschwitz-Birkenau, recognized extra for his or her gasoline chambers and crematories.

Mrs. Kirschner was first despatched to a camp in Geppersdorf, Germany, the place the male inmates constructed a stretch of autobahn whereas the ladies peeled potatoes and sewed swastikas onto German uniforms.

Though life within the camps was depressing, with hunger diets, outbreaks of typhus and garments unfit for the bitingly chilly winters, some supplied liberties that might have startled survivors of extra hellish camps; the Germans at first needed the world to imagine that the camps have been routine work websites. In her first camp years, Mrs. Kirschner was allowed to ship and obtain mail, and for just a few months she acquired a small wage.

“When Mom acquired your postcard, she was the happiest particular person on the earth,” an early letter from her sister Raizel knowledgeable her.

Letters from the ghetto interval and even earlier than then have been peppered with gossip and sketches of the household’s clinging to Jewish rituals within the face of brutal restrictions.

One other letter from Raizel referred to the onset of deportations from the ghetto, describing one roundup in coded language as a “massive wedding ceremony right here to which I wasn’t invited.”


Ann Kirschner’s ebook about her mom was printed in 2006.

Credit score
Free Press

“Be completely happy, be glad and thank God a thousand occasions each day that you simply nonetheless have someone to whom you may write with the way in which issues are going right here,” Raizel wrote in Might 1942, just a few months earlier than she and her sister Blima have been themselves dispatched to labor camps.

“Don’t fear about us,” Raizel wrote. “However we’re anxious about our pricey treasured dad and mom. We don’t know what occurred to them. Might God give us some nice information.”

Mrs. Kirschner’s diary information her affectionate friendship with an older “guardian angel” in Sosnowiec, Ala Gartner, who was later hanged at Auschwitz for her half in an rebellion.

Within the camps, there have been clandestine notes exchanged amongst inmates, together with flirtatious ones from a good-looking Czech Jew, Harry Haubenstock, who informed Mrs. Kirschner, “You look very cute in your pajamas,” however lamented, “I hardly acknowledge myself any longer.”

“I’ve modified a lot,” he wrote, “and if somebody have been to see me now, they might hardly imagine that I must be able to such a deep and honest love.”

The totality of the Germans’ destruction of Jewish life in Europe is obvious from one truth: None of Mrs. Kirschner’s letters to her household and buddies survived the warfare.


Sala and her husband, Cpl. Sidney Kirschner, in 1946, the 12 months they have been married.

Credit score
New York Public Library, Dorot Jewish Division/Sala Garncarz Assortment

Sala Garncarz was born close to Sosnowiec on March 5, 1924. Her father, Joseph, was a rabbi and instructor; her mom, the previous Chana Feldman, raised 11 youngsters, three of whom died earlier than the warfare.

Sala, the youngest, was one of many first women to attend college within the pioneering Beth Jacob motion, began by Sarah Schenirer with the goal of teaching Jewish women. When the Germans occupied Poland, Raizel was conscripted to work, however Sala, shrewd and resourceful, felt her older sister was too bookish to climate the camp and volunteered to take her place.

Mrs. Kirschner was liberated by the Soviet Military in Might 1945 and hitchhiked house to Sosnowiec, solely to be taught that her household had vanished. However she found that Raizel and Blima had wound up in Sweden, and after a time they joined Sala in America.

Along with her daughter, Mrs. Kirschner is survived by her husband; a son, David; eight grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. A second son, Joseph, died in 2004.

Holocaust survivors have handled their nightmarish recollections in varied methods. Mrs. Kirschner was inspired by her husband to place the previous behind her. When her youngsters requested concerning the warfare, Ann Kirschner mentioned, “her eyes would fill with tears, and it was clear she needed that door shut.”

However she by no means forgot the dear letters she stored in that cardboard field.

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