Timeline - Leonard Chill
Leonard Chill was born in Vilno, Poland now Vilnius, Lithuania.
While vacationing with his grandparents in a small town near Lublin, planes flew over and started to drop bombs. The territory was occupied by Germany for two weeks before the Russians took over. During that time, Leonard’s mother was visiting France and was unable to return to her family and because of this eventually fled to Canada.
The Germans took over and the Vilno Ghetto was formed. Leonard’s father was a prominent man in Vilno and because of this he was able to flee with Leonard to Warsaw. While in Warsaw, they changed their identities and pretended to be Polish.
When the Germans began liquidating the Warsaw Ghetto Leonard and his father knew they needed to escape. Their Jewish identities had been exposed and the Polish police started blackmailing them. Leonard and his father searched and found a new place to live. One Sunday morning, Leonard was sent out shopping only to return and see his father with a group of others being led into a van by Polish and German police. At 10 years old, Leonard was on his own. Having a place to sleep but no money, he asked a Polish couple he knew for help. They gave him money and he sold fruits and vegetables door to door as a Polish vendor. One of his customers, who lived across the street, invited Leonard to live with her, knowing he was on his own but not knowing he was Jewish or that his father had been sent to a camp.
Leonard’s father escaped Warsaw’s prison, along with a group of 10 other people. But his freedom was short lived; he was caught again and shot as he tried to escape.
After being taken in by one of Leonard’s father’s friends (who had escaped prison with him), this friend took Leonard to a part of Warsaw called Praga that would soon be occupied by Russians, allowing them to be liberated. The man that took Leonard in had friends in Sweden. Leonard was asked to provide them with his family’s last name. The friends in Sweden had friends in London who looked Leonard’s family name up in the telephone directory; there they located two of Leonard’s uncles. One of his uncles traveled to Sweden and made arrangements for Leonard to legally come to Sweden.
Leonard was reunited with his mother after years of separation, and moved to her home in London.
After studying in England, Leonard moved to Canada, then to Clifton, New Jersey and to Corona del Mar, California.
On the basis of his inventing skills, Leonard was offered a new position and settled with his family in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Leonard Chill resided in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Leonard Chill passed away in late 2019.