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Rachel Gliksman Chojnacki

Tennessee Holocaust Commission -

Nashville, Tennessee
Born: 1926 Belchatow, Poland
Survivor : Lodz ghetto; Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp; Halbstadt Forced Labor Camp; Salzheim and Freisig Displaced Persons

“I could speak German and I could work, my eyes were good,” states Rachel Chojnacki, “I made little tiny parts for the ammunition, we had to make 7,000 per day to make the quota.” Rachel was nervous when munitions factory supervisors came by, and credits her eye for perfection with saving her life.

She recalls the most horrifying day ofher life, when German and Polish soldiers came to take her father and older brothers away. Her mother instructed her to run after them, taking a backpack with a few belongings. As Rachel returned, she heard a shot. The next thing she saw was her mother dying in the street.

Rachel and one brother and sister were taken to the Lodz ghetto in 1942, where they were squeezed into a two-room apartment with 10–12 others. Everyone worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at different factories. After about a year, both her siblings disappeared. In September 1944, “the people from our factory were taken together to the station,” says Rachel. They were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau for 3 months, then forwarded to Halbstadt, a forced labor camp in Czechoslovakia, to assemble munitions.

After liberation by Russian soldiers in the Spring of 1945, nineteen-year-old Rachel Gliksman made her way to the American zone in Germany. She found her childhood boyfriend and married him.