Zelda Klaiman

"It should never be forgotten, it should never be forgiven.."

Name at birth
Zelda (Zeldusia in Poland) Koplowicz
Date of birth
Where did you grow up?
Pabianice Very happy, beautiful, wonderful, maybe we were middle class or a little less than middle class. A large family, I was the oldest granddaughter on mother’s side. Attended a Jewish Public School #13. Everyone was Jewish. Principal Klaiman of the public school was an uncle of my husband, Joseph. This is how I met my husband. My father had told me, “My child if you survive try to marry someone that you know his family”. On train to Auschwitz they received bread, for 12 hours on train with hundreds of people. When they got off the train men went to the left and women to the right, but families were together. One woman was screaming, “I forgot my bread on the train”. My father gave her his bread and said “let us finish what we have”. They segregated the family again, dogs around, assessment, Hela and Zelda went to the right and Mom to the left. When we woke up in Lodz, Hela and I were together. Lived on 31 Warschawwska in an apartment with 3 big rooms, kitchen, bedroom, dining room for family of 5. Father, Mother, Hela, When they were in Lodz ghetto Germans invaded Poland. The family was coming home from vacation, couldn’t get a bus instead took wagon and horses. Drafted father to army. Chaos. Father was back home. War lasted about two weeks in Poland. Lived in nice place, big apartment. Approximately four weeks into the war men were taken to work immediately, we tried to hide the men. Someone knocks at the door, Montek (worked for them in the store about 8 or 9 years old) and asked for Mr. Koplowicz. Montek came with armband already, we need some men for work. Mother said “Montek I would hit you, you are like a son in our house”, Montek responded that this is an order. Leaves. Another 2 weeks in apt, Germans came in with tanks, motorcycles, uniforms. Already no food. Men were scared of being sent away to work. Mother stood in line for bread for hours, father was home with three children. Two hours later all Jews needed to be out in the square in 15 minutes. Mother never returned to house that day.
Name of father, occupation
Joseph Koplowicz, Business (paint and brushes) with five partners.
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Sisla Moskowicz, Homemaker.
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Two younger brothers: Zawel-Laizer 1931 and Avrahamn 1938 approximately.
How many in entire extended family?
60-100. Father had 4-5 sisters and Mother 3 sisters, 1 brother.
Who survived the Holocaust?
My cousin Hela and I. An uncle who was in hiding in Marseilles.
Pabianice and Lodz – 2 years in ghetto in with Aunt. 
In selection, in town square. They took grandmother aside and made a red letter B on grandmother, Chava Moskowicz, and other old people. Selection for those with letter B and children under 8 were taken away. Designated to death.

Took others by streetcar to Lodz Ghetto

Lodz ghetto:  May 14, 1942 for 2 years until sometime in July.
Baby was taken away from mother. Mother turned white haired overnight from anguish of having her baby taken away. Father showed up following day. Germans assigned them places to live on May 15. It was summer. May 16 already was sent to a straw factory. Braiding straw. Bench with nails and you braid the straw. 12 girls in one room. When the straw done, boys took braids to sew boots. Work ½ a day. Too young to work whole day, 13 yrs old. The other ½ day, sitting around, talking about bread, oil, sugar, reading. Bed bugs in summer. Father was sent to a place building things for Germans. Mother was sent to laundry room to wash and iron clothes for the soldiers. Wooden shoes were given.
One day on the way to work, passing the hospital; saw Germans throwing live babies from the second floor onto large open truck on the street. Kept walking.

In Lodz Getto for a week received a bread, brown sugar, potatoes, yellow vegetable, radish. Received 5 portions for the entire family. Everyone was starving.
First three days had a little food, remainder of the week hardly anything left.
100,000 Jews
People were falling like flies. Special group with a wagon that would pick up the bodies to the cemetery on a wagon. They received more food. Lying in the streets and smell.
One Room Attic for the family in an old neighborhood. No water indoors. Out house and well water. Mother, father, brother and cousin Hela (father’s oldest sister’s daughter) and Zelda.

Brother worked in metal store making canisters for water.

Being part of Jewish Organization kept them alive. There were libraries, read a lot mostly classics, talked.

One day, cleaining Lodz and sending to better camps with work, nicer rooms and clothes, better facilities. Try to hide, starved, stop giving them food.
End of July 1944. After two weeks, father told the family that they need to pack up clothes. Five of them went on trains and took them to Auschwitz from Marysin train station where they had the trains. Walked two miles to the train station. Told them that we no longer will feed you in Lodz, get your things together and go to train station. Takes a whole night (12 hours) to get to Auschwitz. 100 people at least, some standing and some sitting. Passing woods, parks. Around 5-6 in the morning, father told me if you marry know family of the man. 

Arrived in Auschwitz, see guards, dogs, whips, leave everything on train except bread. Selection. Names on everything and told that it will be delivered to you.
Seperated men and women. 
With Hela and Mom. Hela and me to right and mom to left. Assessment breaks there hand holding and never saw mother again. Hela and Zelda were told to undress and went to shower. Gave them rags as dresses that did not fit and told them to dress and some type of shoes.

Then sent to Bergen-Belson. In a way worse than Auschwitz. In Auschwitz there were bunk beds. In BB laying in camping tents on grass or sand. Bread and cheese filled with sand. Four weeks and then sent to another camp. Name can’t remember. Making ammunitions.

After Bergen-Belson ran into childhood girlfriend, Mia, who introduced Zelda to her future husband Joseph Klaiman (principal from Jewish School was his uncle). This was someone that she knew the family as her father had told her!

In Auschwitz for four weeks, another selection. Naked hundreds of women, go right, go left. Some left in Auschwitz, some death, some other camps.
Zelda and Hela were sent to a labor camp 1944.
Ammunication factory in the woods. Made with ether (sp?), the smell would make her faint. Youngest in the labor camp.
Then moved to another labor camp, Salt Mines. Digging for salt and trains take it away. It was so hot. Wore the striped clothes and striped underwear. Many took off dressed due to the heat. Worked there for a few months.

Sent back to Bergen-Belson beginning of 1945. Now in soldier barracks (as big as football field). Many had typhus or diarrhea. Outhouse.
Hela found a cousin who had a connection and took Zelda to a hospital. Couldn’t walk any longer. Had typhus, burning up with fever. Dreamt that father was on bed feeding her raspberries and another type of grape fruit and told her to eat.

Liberated on April 15, 1945. in Bergen-Belson.

Saw mountains of dead people out the window. Four weeks in hospital. 

Met husband and would not let go of him. 

Hela got sick before liberation and ended up going to Swedish hospital. Had lung removed. Moved to Israel and met husband, but could not have any children. Adopted a 7 year old Sephardic boy.
Name of Ghetto(s)
What DP Camp were you after the war?
Near Frankfurt With girlfriend, June and Minia. Had planned to go to Israel, Mother’s brother survived in Marseille, France. He said he would meet me in Israel. Met in Israel, but became pregnant and had to wait. It was 1948. Did not want child to be born in Germany. Registered for papers for the United States. It took two moths. Felt that Israel is the only place that I should be and go was Israel. Never thought of going anywhere else. Came in November 1949 in ninth month. Federation and UNRA (or HIAS) were good to them. They sent them straight to Detroit. Asked them what profession they had. Husband worked in metal and Detroit was city of cars. Arrived in NY only for a few hours. Came by plane, not by boat because she was pregnant. All people on plane were pregnant. 48 hours.
Where did you go after being liberated?
Liberated on April 15, 1945.
Where did you settle?
Detroit. Gave them a room with an Hungarian family. Flat on 12th Street in Dexter, got one bedroom. When returned from hospital switched rooms, from small to larger with bassinet, scale.
Occupation after the war
First worked for Ginsberg making salami for about ½ year. Husband worked for Chevrolet making parts in Hamtrack 4 years. Learned a trade, plumbing. Learned English in night school. Then went into business into the plumbing business with an older man.
When and where were you married?
July 4, 1948 in Zalszcham, Germany
Joseph Klaiman, Plumbing business
Susan is a medical technologist. Five years later, Michael is a CPA. Five years later, Allan is a Urologist.
Nine grandchildren (7 girls and 2 boys). Susan - Daniel, Stacy, Jessica; Michael - Amanda, Steven, Jacki; Allan - Samantha, Michelle, Kimberly. Five great children - Ryan, Jack Joseph, Gaden, Ella, Sasha Joseph
What do you think helped you to survive?
I don’t know. My husband wanted to survive. I was a pain to my cousin Hela. I was never happy being left alone. I was always heartbroken being alone without my family. It’s hard to grow up by yourself in a strange land. I was never so grateful that I survived. I was never happy that I was left alone. I had a wonderful family and husband.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
It should never be forgotten, it should never be forgiven..

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