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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives




DATE:                       DECEMBER 15, 1995

Transcript (PDF)


Tosia Szecher Schneider was born in Zaleszczyki, Poland on April 4, 1929. Her father, Jacob, was an accountant and her mother, Genia, was a teacher. Tosia had a brother, Julek, who was two years older. The family moved to her mother’s hometown of Horodenka, Poland when Tosia was six. Tosia’s early years were spent attending a Polish elementary school and Hebrew school and enjoying the closeness of a large, extended family.

When the Germans and Russians invaded Poland in September 1939, the area around Horodenka fell under Soviet control until Germany invaded Russia in 1941. In July 1941, Hungarian forces occupied the town. Germany took over the town shortly afterward and, by December, the family had been forced into a ghetto. Tosia’s immediate family survived two major roundups and deportations by hiding in her father’s workplace. When the ghetto was finally liquidated in September of 1942, Tosia, her brother and mother were sent to the nearby town of and then on to a ghetto in Tluste. Tosia’s father remained in Horodenka. His fate is unknown but he was likely sent to the Belzec extermination camp. Genia died from typhus in the winter of 1942-1943. Tosia and Julek were then sent to a labor camp in Lisowce. Julek was shot in the summer of 1943. Tosia survived in the labor camp until March 1944, when the Russian army liberated the area.

After the war, Tosia returned home briefly to Horodenka, where only one other cousin had survived. Tosia moved first to Romania, then to the United States occupied zone of Germany before coming to the US in 1949. She studied at the Hebrew Union College and taught Hebrew for thirty years at Reform religious schools in Morristown, NJ; Augusta, GA; and Atlanta, GA. In 1950, Tosia married Fred Schneider. They have three sons and five children. Tosia is now retired and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she is active in sharing her wartime experiences.

Scope of Interview:

Tosia introduces her family and describes her early years in Poland. She relates what she recalls about the German and Soviet invasions of Poland in 1939. Tosia describes how her family’s life changed when the Hungarians and then Germans occupied her town in 1941. She recalls life in the ghetto and hiding during roundups, killings, and deportations. Tosia explains how her family was separated from her father, moved to another ghetto where her mother died, and then sent to a labor camp. She recalls random killings, which took her brother and a close friend. Tosia describes her mother’s attempts to sneak her out of the ghetto and her refusal to leave. The interview ends with Tosia’s reflections on the Holocaust.


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