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Lea Gleitman | Photos and Documents

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Lea Gleitman, 2016.

Lea’s mother and father married in 1919. These photos were taken when they got engaged. Szprinca (also known as Sabina) and Jonah were both born in 1896.

This picture shows Lea’s mother with Lea’s older siblings Miriam and Jehuda. The photo was taken in 1924, the same year that Lea was born.

Lea’s older brother Jehuda Zew Posner. He was also called Wowek. He is twenty in this photo.

Lea’s sister Miriam is to the left. On the right is her cousin Sabina. Miriam and Sabina were the same age. The photo was taken in 1941 when they were 19 years old. Sabina didn’t survive the Holocaust. She was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944.

This picture shows Lea’s school class in Sosnowiec. Her teacher Lejbowicz is standing on the far left. Next to her is Luba Pergricht. Luba survived the Holocaust and came to Stockholm, Sweden, after the war.

Lea was 13 years old when this picture was taken. She is standing at the back to the left. At the front to the left is Lea’s mother and, behind her, Lea’s father.

Lea’s cousin is standing on the right in this picture. Her friend Lola Heiberger is standing in the middle. They lived in the same house in Oswiecim. Lola’s grandfather owned the house. Lea doesn’t remember who the third girl was. The photo was taken in 1938.

Lea is the second girl from the right. The photo was taken during an outing to Kraków with the Beit Jakob School in 1938. The students visited many places and were taught at the same time. There is a monument visible in the background – a burial mound called Kopiec Piłsudskiego which was made in memory of the head of state Józef Piłsudski who died in 1935. Many Jews had been involved in building it. Lea was given the photo by a friend after the war. The friend had managed to keep it during her years in a concentration camp.

Lea is 17 years old in this picture. She is the one wearing a coat with a fur collar, at the front and to the left. The cornflower blue fabric came from her father’s shop. The photo, which was taken in 1941 in the Sosnowiec ghetto, also shows Lea’s friends of the same age.

The letter in this picture was written by Lea’s mother Szprinca (also known as Sabina) in September 1940. In this letter she asks her brother in the USA if he could help them and take care of Lea's older brother and sister, thereby saving them from the Nazis. Lea explains: "During the first years of the German occupation, we believed that the youngsters were in greatest danger and that it wasn’t so dangerous for the younger children. My maternal uncle and aunt probably did all they could, but unfortunately, there was no way during the war for anyone to get to the USA." Lea's mother wrote down the address in Sosnowiec on the last page. The street had been given a German name and was called Weichselstrasse 10.

In this picture, Lea has a bag that had sewn herself. Lea's mother wanted her to have something to do. Lea recalls: "She sent me on a course where a refugee from Czechoslovakia taught other young women and me to sew."

Here is Lea along with some of her friends in Sosnowiec. She is stood second from the right. The photo was taken in some countryside on the outskirts of Sosnowiec, which was called działki. It was roughly like an allotment plot, and Lea and her friends were able to grow vegetables there.

This photo shows Lea’s sister Miriam to the left and her cousin Sabina to the right who was Rachel’s sister. Sabina and Miriam were born in the same year, 1922, and were very close friends. The photo was taken in 1941. Lea comments: "They don’t appear to be wearing Stars of David on their clothing. Perhaps they had armbands as we had in the beginning."

Lea was separated from most of her relatives in August 1942. In a selection, Jews were picked out to be deported to Auschwitz. Lea’s aunt of the same name who lived in Wadowice is in this photo. There were six brothers and two sisters in the family. The picture was taken in 1938 or 1939.

Lea’s grandmother and aunt Mina are in the picture. The photo was taken in 1934 at a spa resort where they used to go to drink water from a spring.

This picture shows Lea’s sketch of her barrack as she remembers it. Bronka, Rachel and Lea laid in a row by the third window to the left of the entrance. There was a “toilet” outside on one side of the opening. The dead were piled up in a heap opposite.

This photo shows Lea’s friend Bronka Kohn. It was taken sometime before the outbreak of the war in 1939. Bronka was 21 years old when she died in Bergen-Belsen on 14 April 1945.

This picture shows Lea’s uncle Moshe Posner. The picture was taken at the end of the 1920s. At that time Lea's uncle lived in Germany. Many of the photos that Lea has of her family she received from her uncle after the war. Moshe wanted Lea and Miriam to come to him in Copenhagen. However, as that was not possible, they made their way to Sweden where they would still be close to their uncle.

Josef and Lea couldn’t afford a big wedding, so instead, they organised a wedding party at their home. Lea comments: "At the time, we lived in an apartment without a bathroom and shared a toilet with the other homes in our block. And there was no warm water in the kitchen. We got married in Malmö’s synagogue on 24 December 1950. We hadn’t thought that this was Christmas Eve but noticed when we came out onto the street that it was difficult to get hold of a taxi. So we had to travel by tram back home to the waiting guests: How people looked at us and my long wedding dress! That was a source of comedy later on during the reception."

The picture shows Lea’s husband Josef Gleitman’s identity papers. He survived the death marches from Auschwitz to Sachsenhausen. As a prisoner there he was given a ”passport”. Josef had to have his fingerprints taken and sign the document. He listed Radomsko as his place of birth. He stated that his occupation was that of “locksmith” (schlosser).

Here’s Lea on a walk with her daughters Barbro and Susanne in Helsingborg, 1956.

In 2016 Lea travelled with her daughers to Poland. The picture shows Lea and Barbro at the entrance to the house in Sosnowiec where Lea once lived.