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Memoir: My Other Life (As Told to Inge Packer)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Volume 15-a

Minna Aspler

My Other Life (As told to Inge Packer)

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies

Copyright Minna Aspler, 2001


Key Words

Yekatarinaslav, Ukraine, Vilna, Warsaw, Tarbut School, Dr. Janush Korczak, Warsaw University, Warsaw Ghetto, Polish Underground Army, Warsaw Uprising, Black market activities, Interventions by gentiles, DP camp Wildflecken, UNRRA, DP camp Landsberg am Lech


Abstract

Author chose to write memoir in the 3rd person, and has relied on the assistance of another person for the transcription of her account. She was born in Yekatarinaslav, Ukraine, where her father was a textile merchant. Fearing the violence of the post-World War I period, the family moved to Vilna, Lithuania. Notes the history of the Jewish community. Describes members of her extended family and recalls her childhood on a nobleman's estate, managed by her grandfather. Father established business in Warsaw and family moved to that city when she was eight years old. She attended Gymnasium. Describes the anti-Semitism at Warsaw University. Describes the wartime conditions of Warsaw: her father lost his business; the onset of food shortages; her brother, who had escaped to Russia, sent food parcel, then was never heard from again. Germans crowded Jews from the surrounding districts into the Jewish quarter. Narrator was arrested by the Gestapo and jailed for 3 12 months.

During her incarceration, the Nazis constructed the walled ghetto. Tells of the fate of Polish informers who were later executed by the Nazis. Aided by a gentile friend, she escaped the ghetto and assumed a Christian identity. Describes several narrow escapes from detection. Worked in a library and supplemented her income by dealing with illicit liquor which she sold to restaurants. Detailed account of how people survived by various black-market dealings. Learned of the death of her parents. Reports on the uprising of Warsaw. She served as a courier to the Polish Underground Army and describes her underground activities. After 63 days of fighting, the Germans vanquished the resistance. She joined massive numbers of civilians who fled the city. Describes the circumstances of how two friends and herself managed to survive, in some cases due to the intervention of gentile Poles. Found work on a farm. Witnesses the arrival of the American military. Three companions left the farm and traveled to a DP camp at Wildflecken. Conditions at the camp led to disturbances. She realized that she no longer needed to rely on a disguise. Confessed to friend that she is Jewish and her friend, in turn, admits that she is too. She and her friend joined Jewish quarter of the camp. With the help of American soldiers, she made contact with aunt and family in the US. Met her future husband, a Canadian who worked in the camp as UNRRA official. Concludes with brief listing of family members and her children.

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