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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 excursion to Kraków with the Beit Jakob school in 1938. The students visited many places while being taught. There is a monument in the background – a burial mound called Kopiec Piłsudskiego which was build in memory of the head of state Józef Piłsudski who died in 1935. There were many Jews among those who built it. The photo was given to Lea after the war by a friend. She managed to keep hold of it during her years in the camps.

Lea is 17 years old in this picture. She is the one wearing a coat with a fur collar at the front 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 whether he can take care of Lea’s older brother and sister and, in so doing, save them from the Nazis. There was sadly no way of getting them to the USA. The family’s adress in Sosnowiec is on the last page. The street had been given a German name and was called Weichselstrasse.

In this picture, Lea has a bag that she sewed herself. Lea’s mother wanted her to have something to do which is why she sent Lea on a course where a refugee from Czechoslovakia taught young women how to sew.

Here is Lea together with a couple of friends in Sosnowiec. Lea is standing second from the right. The photo was taken in the countryside on the outskirts of Sosnowiec known as działki. It functioned a bit like an allotment and the Jews from the ghetto were given the opportunity 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. They don’t appear to be wearing Star of David patches but they may have been wearing armbands. Lea says that she remembers that they had them during that time.

Lea was split up 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 the photo. The family consisted of six brothers and two sisters. The photo was taken in 1938 or 1939.

Lea’s grandmother and aunt Mina are in the picture. The photo was taken in 1934 at a health resort they went to in order to drink water from its spa.

The picture shows Lea’s sketch of the so-called death barracks in Bergen-Belsen. Bronka, Rachel and Lea laid in a row by the third window to the left of the entrance. Outside was a ”toilet” on one side of the entrance. The dead were piled up in a pile opposite.

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

This picture show’s Lea’s uncle Moshe Posner. The photo was from the end of the 1920s. At that time, Lea’s uncle lived in Germany. Many of the pictures that Lea has of her family were given to her by Moshe after the war. Moshe wanted Lea and Miriam to come to him in Copenhagen but, when that wasn’t possible, they made their way to Sweden to be close to their uncle.

Josef and Lea couldn’t afford a big wedding so instead they organised a wedding party in their home. At the time they lived in an apartment without a bathroom and shared the toilet with others in their building. There wasn’t even warm water in the kitchen. The couple married in Malmö’s synagogue on 24 December 1950. Lea comments the photo: "We didn’t think that it was Christmas Eve but realised when we went out onto the street and had problems getting hold of a taxi. Instead we had to travel by tram to the guests waiting for them. How people stared at us and my long wedding dress! This was a source of amusement for us and the guests during the dinner."

The picture shows Lea’s husband Josef Gleitman’s documents. He survived the death marches from Auschwitz to Sachsenhausen. As a prisoner there he was given a ”passport”. Josef had to provide a fingerprint and sign documents. He put down Radomsko as his place of birth. When Josef had to write down a profession, he made up the job of schlosser (locksmith).

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 by the entrance to the house in Sosnowiec where Lea once lived.