German troops invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 and three days later, Sosnowiec was occupied. Jewish men, including Manya’s father, were rounded up and the next morning marched to a factory. The prisoners were held overnight without food or water and then selected for local jobs, forced labor, incarcerated in Germany, or executed. Manya’s father was detained to build latrines for the German military and then released. Orders were issued by the Germans in charge that: Jews had to turn in all valuables, Jewish merchants must relinquish their businesses, and Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend school. The town’s synagogue was burned down and the neighbors were not allowed to extinguish the fire. Sosnowiec and the surrounding area were then annexed to Germany. New passports were required for all the Jews and the ghetto was formed.
In 1941, Manya was forced to work for a German company that produced military uniforms. The following year, the Nazis began deporting Jews from Sosnowiec to the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center. Manya and her family were temporarily saved from deportation because of their sonderkarts (work permits). In March 1943, she was taken from the uniform factory to the Gogolin transit camp, and later to the Gleiwitz labor camp where she was tattooed with the number 79357, which became her name. At the end of 1943, Manya’s family was deport
ed to Auschwitz when the ghetto was liquidated; she never saw them again.
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