Renya Sieger

Born October 10, 1936 - Cracow, Poland

Renya, the daughter of Josef and Mala (Reifer) Sieger, was born in Cracow, Poland. Cracow was a large industrial city. Between the two world wars, Jewish cultural and social life flourished in Cracow. By 1939, approximately 60,000 Jews lived in Cracow, Poland's third largest city.

Cracow was occupied by the Germans on September 6, 1939. Renya was not yet three years old when the Germans began persecuting Cracow's Jews. Jewish property was seized and several synagogues were burned down. By March 1941, approximately 40,000 Jews had been expelled to neighboring towns, their property confiscated. At the same time, a sealed-off ghetto was established. The worst problems were the result of overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions. The population was impoverished, and the Germans set up several factories to exploit the cheap labor in the ghetto. Thousands of Jews died in the streets from starvation, disease, and exposure. At the end of May 1942, the Germans began deporting Jews from the ghetto to death camps. By June 8, 1942, approximately 3,000 Jews were deported to the Belzec death camp; 300 had been shot on the spot.

Many strong and healthy Jews were sent to work in the Plaszow slave labor camp. In October 1943, approximately 7,000 Jews were deported to Belzec and Auschwitz. In addition, 600 Jews were shot on the spot. At this time, the Jews living in the old age home, the hospital, and the orphanage were all arrested and sent to death camps. The round ups continued until the end of March 1943 when the ghetto was emptied. Of the Jews sent to the Plaszow labor camp, only a few hundred survived.

Renya and her family disappeared without a trace.

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