I was in the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz/Birkenau, Stuthof, and the last place was Dresden, where I worked as a slave laborer. When Dresden was bombed in February 1945, our factory was bombed too.
We began a march that lasted until our liberation. We marched every day for about 30 miles a day and then we slept in barns at different farms along the way. My mother and sister were with me. One night, after we’d been walking for two weeks, we awoke, but we were unable to wake my sister. She had died in her sleep. We had to leave her there and continue walking. The last week of the march, my mother got very weak and could not walk anymore. The Germans now provided some wagons for the sick. I guess the war was ending, and they wanted to appear human.
One day, while we were walking, we realized that the Germans had disappeared. We were close to Prague, Czechoslovakia. In all the commotion--people shouting we were free—I lost track of the direction that the wagons had taken. I was separated from my mother who had been with me all through the war. I was 13 at the time, and all alone, I thought. But my mother’s friend took me under her care. We walked to Prague, where the Red Cross located my mother. She was very ill, but recovered. In fact, she lived to be 96 and died in January 1995.
From our family of five, my mother and I were the only survivors. After Prague, we lived in a displaced persons camp in Landsberg. There, my mother remarried. Her new husband was also a survivor; he had lost his wife and seven children.
We waited in Landsberg for four years to come to the United States. We immigrated in 1949. My mother and stepfather were married for 40 years. I became his child and he was a Zaddie to my children. So this is how I was liberated.
I was researching on the ITS, I found out that the fate of Estera Lea was linked to the one Jenny Zavatsky, born Tabakschmecker.
According to the document I found, Jenny is born on 25/3/1932 and her parents are Szmul and Rywka. With the information we already have, we can conclude that Jenny Zavatsky is the sister of Estera Lea.
When I looked into the USC Shoah Foundation Institution Testimonies, I found that Jenny Zavatsky did a testimony in 1995.
I requested the testimony and I watched it to get more information about Estera Lea.
At the very beginning of the testimony, Jenny confirms that her parents are Szmul and Rywka and she says she has a sister named “Lola”, that is 9 years older than her. This would mean that Lola would be born in 1923. This matches with our previous researches. Lola and Estera Lea is the same person.
She also says that she had one brother, Meir, who died in the ghetto.
Jenny and Lola’s father owned a metal factory before the WWII and that is why he worked as a skilled worker in the metal factory of the ghetto during the WWII.
In August 1944, the whole family (Rywka, Szmul, Lola and Jenny) were sent to the concentration camp of Auschwitz where no selection was made.
They stayed in Auschwitz one week before being sent to Stutthof.
They stayed in Stutthof for around 3 months before the German sent the entire family to Dresden where the factory of Szmul was being transferred. This would mean they would be transferred to in November 1944. This matches with the information we found that they were in a transport from Stutthof to Dresden that arrived on 28/11/1944.
Jenny says that they worked in a former cigarettes factory transformed in an ammunition factory. 3 weeks after their arrival in Dresden, Szmul died. He was already weakened by the very harsh conditions of Stutthof. On one of the document from the ITS, it is said that Szmul died on 18/12/1944 in Dresden-Bernsdorf. This matches with the testimony of Jenny Savatsky.
During the bombing of Dresden from 13/2/1945 to 15/2/1945, their factory was bombed and partially destroyed. During a few days, Lola, Jenny and Rywka had to live in the cellar of one of the buildings near the factory. Lola developed a real high fever what Jenny described as a scarlet fever in the testimony and Lola finally died.
A few days later, Jenny and her mother were forced to a “Death March”. They finally were liberated by the Russians near Prague, Czech Republic.
The testimony of Jenny Zavatsky confirms the information you found in the book of Andrzej Strzelecki.
Jenny Zavatsky yad vashem reports
Szmul Tabakszmeker was born in Lodz, Poland in 1899 to Pesa. He was a factory owner and married to Rywka nee Solarz. During the war he was in Lodz, Poland. Szmul was murdered/perished in 1944 in Dresden, Camp at the age of 41. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted by his daughter, a Shoah survivor
Meir Tabakszmeker was born in Odziwil in 1924 to Szmul and Rywka. He was a student. Prior to WWII he lived in Lodz, Poland. During the war he was in Lodz, Poland. Meir was murdered/perished in 1941 in Lodz, Poland. This information is based on a Page of Testimony by his sister.
Lola Tabakszmeker was born in Lodz, Poland in 1923 to Szmul and Rywka. Prior to WWII she lived in Odziwil. During the war she was in Lodz, Poland. Lola was murdered/perished in 1945 in Germany. This information is based on a Page of Testimony by her sister.