Zelda Fuksman

‘When the Germans entered, we ran to the forests and then after much time, dangers and hardships, we wound up in Siberia where life too was a constant struggle and trial’


Zelda Fuksman was born in an observant Jewish family in a village of Bobel, Poland. She was four years old when the Second World War started. The part of Poland where she lived was initially occupied by Soviet army. It was  invaded by the Nazis in 1941, when Zelda Fuksman was six years old. Very few of the Jewish community in her town survived the war. She herself spent the war in hiding, first in forests and later in Siberia. After the end of the war the family returned in cattle cars to their pre war home. However upon returning to Poland they encountered such severe ant-semitism that they decided to move illegally to DP camps in Germany. They were first in the DP Camp Neu Ulm and then were able to transfer to Stuttgart, where she started attending ORT classes. ‘In Stuttgart I started school and after school we attended sewing classes.  We had no sewing machines so every stitch was done by hand.  We were also taught the fine embroidery stitches. I was a good student and was hungry to learn.  I was eleven, twelve, thirteen years old in those days’- she recalled. Her brother attended classes in mathematics and auto mechanics. The family stayed in Stuttgart until it closed and were later transferred to other transit camps, waiting for the visa. They arrived in Chicago, Illinois in 1949, when Ms. Fuksman was thirteen years old and reunited with their American family. ‘I have learned that I can do just about anything.  The wonderful sewing that I learned at ORT served me well throughout my life.  I did not continue with a sewing job, but continued with education in the USA and did other work, but the fine sewing, has developed in me a patience and desire to continue with many handicraft projects, such as needlepoint, crocheting, knitting, sewing.’ [1]

 [1] Source: World ORT Archive: Zelda Fuksman interviewed by Sarah Kavanaugh, June 2006