Luba Reches

Born August 28, 1930 - Nikankowice, Poland

Luba, the daughter of Chaim and Leah Reches, lived in a tiny village in eastern Poland. Her father was a tavern owner, and her mother worked with him. There were very few Jews in the village, but Luba's family had lived there for generations. Luba lived with her parents and grandparents in a large home surrounded by fruit trees.

The Germans invaded Poland in September 1939, when Luba was a nine year-old schoolgirl. They bombed her village. During the bombing, a mob of local villagers, including neighbors and customers, grabbed Luba's father in the street and locked him, and any other Jew they could find, in the village Synagogue. They set the building on fire and burnt it to the ground.

In terror, Luba and her mother fled the village. They went to Przemysl, a nearby city, where they had relatives. The Germans immediately began brutalizing and murdering the 7,000 Jews living in Przemysl. In July 1942, all Jews in Przemsyl and the surrounding areas were forced to live in a crowded, sealed-off ghetto.

Luba's mother sold her possessions to open a small restaurant in the ghetto. Among her clients were German officers. Before every round up, Luba and her mother were warned by their German customers. They hid in bunkers built under their building. Other times, they sneaked out of the ghetto with the help of a non-Jewish friend. On November 18, 1942, the Germans began mass arrests of Jews, intending to empty the ghetto and murder its inhabitants.

Twelve year-old Luba and her mother went to their usual hiding place. The Nazis knew that Jews were hiding under the buildings and began to destroy them one by one. When the Germans broke into their bunker, Luba and her mother escaped up a chimney, where they hid for three nights. There was constant shooting outside, and Luba was terrified and hungry. When the shooting stopped, Luba and her mother fled the ghetto to their non-Jewish friend. Luba was sent to a convent-run orphanage, where sympathetic nuns were hiding 13 other Jewish children. The Germans raided the orphanage twice, and the children were sent into the forest to hide. When the war was over, Luba's mother was found near death, hiding in a dog kennel. She recovered, and one month later was reunited with Luba.

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