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Edzia Abbe was the daughter of Carola and Israel Abbe. Her father owned a haberdashery store where he sold hats, gloves, and other accessories. She had one sister and two brothers.
Edzia grew up in Lodz, Poland. A large, fairly liberal city, Lodz was home to over 233,000 Jews. It was a major center of the textile industry. A diverse population of Jews, Poles and Germans lived together in relative peace.
When the Germans occupied Lodz in September 1939, Edzia was a 13-year-old schoolgirl. Anti-Jewish restrictions were immediately enacted. Jews were forbidden to congregate for religious services, they were subject to curfew, their radios were confiscated, and they were forced to wear yellow stars to identify them as Jews. In addition, Jews were barred from most professions, and all Jewish communal institutions were ordered to disband.
On February 8, 1940, Edzia, her family, and all of Lodz's Jews were forced to relocate to a run-down part of the city. On May 1, 1940, the overcrowded ghetto was closed off.
Living conditions were horrendous. There was no heat, little food or medicine, and inadequate sanitation. People fell dead in the street from starvation, disease and exposure. Still, the basic appearance of normal inner-city life was maintained. Schools and hospitals still functioned inside the ghetto.
The Germans constantly harassed the Jewish residents of the ghetto, randomly seizing people on the streets, raiding their apartments, and subjecting them to horrendous indignities. People were shot at random. Young children often became the sole support of their families. They would smuggle themselves out of the ghetto in order to find food and bring it back to their starving parents, brothers, and sisters.
In late 1940, a German soldier shot Edzia’s older brother, 16-year-old Natan, at the ghetto gate. Her mother died of starvation in early 1941. Fifteen-year-old Edzia was seized and sent to forced labor in a German-run textile factory in Augsburg. Conditions there were horrible. There was little food, and the workers were constantly tortured. In May 1943, the factory was evacuated. The Jewish workers were sent to an unknown destination and were never heard from again. Edzia was 17 years old.
Edzia was one of 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Germans and their collaborators during the Holocaust.