1924 Bydgoszcz, Poland
Siberian Forced Labor Camp
September 15: Esther (Kirszenberg) Loeb was born in Łódź to Chana and Josef Anszel Kirszenberg.
Esther’s sister, Regina (Kirszenberg) Stern, was born.
The Kirszenberg family moved to Bromberg, modern day Bydgoszcz, a city divided by Poles, Germans, and Jews near Danzig (modern-day Gdańsk). At this time, Jews were not allowed in many public places. Esther was bullied, abused, and avoided in public school. The Kirszenberg family owned two ready-to-wear men’s clothing stores.
September 1: World War II began
September 15: The Kirszenbergs reunited with their daughters after walking at night to reach Łódź.
September 19: Germany defeated Poland in a major battle, making it difficult for Poland to counterattack.
October 6: Poland was fully under the control of both Russia and Germany.
March: The Kirszenbergs decided to try to escape Poland after the Germans demanded the surrender of Jewish children. They used Ukrainian ships to enter Ukraine, but Esther’s mother was left behind. For several months, the family slept in various places, but they were eventually reunited with Chana.
Russian soldiers discovered the Kirszenbergs hiding and accused them of being spies. As a result, they were sent to a Siberian forced labor camp where Esther and her father had to work.
Esther’s father became very ill and died at the age of 38, seven days after the birth of his son. Upon hearing the news, Esther’s mother lost milk in one of her breasts and barely had any in the other to feed her baby.
Esther and Regina traveled five to six miles in order to find milk for their baby brother, but it did not save him. He died before his first birthday due to malnutrition.
The family was given permission to leave the camp, but they were required to stay in Russia. They traveled to Kyrgyzstan where it was warmer, but they worked twice as hard.
At the end of the war, Esther, her sister, and her mother were given permission to leave Russia. They returned to Poland, only to find they were the sole survivors of their family.
They were placed in the Landsberg am Lech Displaced Persons Camp, where Esther stayed for almost three years.
At the end of the year, Esther smuggled herself into Palestine. The English were keeping strict control of all those entering the region.
Esther enlisted in Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary organization in the British Mandate of Palestine (1921-48), which became the core of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), as a nurse. She worked in the army for two years and lived in Israel for six years.
May 14: Israel gained statehood.
Esther’s sister, Regina, moved to Ohio in the United States of America as a refugee.
Esther’s mother, Chana Kirszenberg, was sent to Nashville.
Esther tried to leave Israel, but she was not allowed, because she was a nurse. In order to leave, she stated that she was going to Switzerland for a vacation. She stayed there for six months while getting her papers in order.
March 22: Esther arrived in Nashville, from Switzerland, and joined her mother and sister on a six-month visa.
After some time, she went to New York and later received papers stating that she had to return to Israel. With help from the American Consulate in Georgia, she was granted more time in the United States. During this time, she met her future husband in Mobile, Alabama and he helped her to learn English.
Esther married Samuel Loeb in Nashville, Tennessee. The couple had to go to Canada for a time, but later returned to the United States.
Esther moved to Nashville permanently with her husband.
October 20: Esther and Samuel’s son, Jeffry Loeb, was born.
Esther’s mother (who had remarried), Chana Kirszenberg Heitler, died at age 94.
The Nashville Holocaust Memorial was dedicated after hard work from Esther Loeb and fellow survivors.
October 20: Jeff Loeb, Esther’s son, died at age 50.
May 11: Esther Loeb died at the age of 86 in Nashville, Tennessee.