Macramé bag with 2 wooden handles used by a Polish Jewish family while in hiding
overall : 15.250 x 15.375 in. (38.735 x 39.053 cm.)
“She is the real hero who saved the 6 of us.” Jim Jacob Baral, writing about his mother Franciska (Franka) Baral was born in Krakow, Poland, on December 27, 1906. Her husband, Samuel, born in 1904, ran a fur import business with his father. They had three children: Aneta, born December 24, 1929, Martin, born March 21, 1932, and Jacob, born July 24, 1935. Franka ran a traditional Jewish home and they lived a comfortable life, with domestic help and vacations twice a year, surrounded by their extensive family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Germany invaded Poland and occupied Krakow in the first week of September 1939. They immediately enacted practices aimed at abusing and persecuting Jews. The Baral family fled Krakow. They travelled as Volkdeutsche, German nationals, and sought refuge with relatives in Rzeszow and Lvov. But they returned to Krakow, though without Samuel. While the rest of the family could pass for Germans, Samuel looked too Jewish, and they thought that Franka and the children might be safer on their own. In 1941, they were forced into the ghetto, with the other Jews of the city, where Samuel joined them. Franka worked outside the ghetto in a factory. She also painted portraits of children for Heinrich Kunder, a guard who was a pedophile, to try to get him to take her family to the Swiss border. He refused, but did warn her of impending plans to liquidate the ghetto. She was able to push the two boys, Martin and Jacob, under the barbed wire without being seen. They went to the home of their former housekeeper, where they stayed for the next few months. She then gave them money and sent them to their aunt’s home in the Bochnia ghetto. Franka, Samuel, and Aneta hid in an attic in a different section of the ghetto, until Franka and Aneta escaped to Tarnow, while Samuel went to Płaszow. In Tarnow, Franka worked as a seamstress for the Germans. One day, having made nice dresses for her daughter and herself, she and Aneta fixed their hair and put on make-up. Then, assisted by a former employee of Samuel’s, Bronka Porvit, they convinced the ghetto guards that they were Germans and walked out of Tarnow. They returned to Krakow, looking for Martin and Jacob. Learning that they are in Bochnia, they join them and find their own place to hide on the outskirts of town. They pose as Catholics and live in the Polish community of Dunomoics. In 1943, the Germans decide to make Bochnia a labor camp. That March, Franka and the children flee to Hungary. The family is smuggled out in a truck with a false bottom, but abandoned in the forest. Fearful of attracting attention, Franka determines that they must separate for most of the long walk to Slovakia. Franka arrived at the border in a day and a half, but is not able to find the children. She learned that they have been arrested, but is allowed to visit them in jail. After a few weeks, the family is sold to an underground Jewish organization, which arranges for their transportation to Hungary. In July 1943, they arrive in Budapest. Franka obtains lodging at a hotel, but is warned that the Gestapo is searching for them. They flee the hotel and once again, Franka and the children separate to avoid detection, although they meet each day to eat some bread together. Around this time, Franka arranged to rescue three more children, two of them cousins, from Krakow, where they are in danger of deportation to the concentration camps. Franka later wrote about these years in her diary: “Constantly in the bombed trains, bullets flying over our head, without bread, ragged and sick. ... The children and I looked like living corpses. … The children were constantly sick and feverish. To cool off they were sitting on stone blocks or on the steps of houses, because they never had a home of their own, only a place to sleep which they had to evacuate in the morning.” One day, Franka met a Hungarian Gentile woman, Ilona Nemes, who agreed to hide her and the six children in her home. This soon becomes unsafe and Ilona takes them to her family’s farm in Nyiregyhaza, where they live in relative safety as non-Jews for the rest of the war. In early 1945, Soviet troops liberated the region. Franka obtained an emergency certificate, dated February 6, from the British Mission in Romania, granting permission to travel to Istanbul en route to India. She and the six children left by train for Bucharest. On June 5, she received permission from the British to leave Romania. With the help of the Red Cross, Franka’s husband, Samuel, finds out that they are alive and is permitted to join them in Romania. Samuel had survived the Holocaust by being placed on Oskar Schindler’s list. In 1946, the family emigrated to Palestine. Aneta served in the army during the War for Independence. Around 1948, Martin left for Australia to live with an uncle. The entire family joined him there in 1953.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the children and grandchildren of Franka and Samuel Baral
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