Gertner family papers

Identifier
irn614729
Language of Description
English
Alt. Identifiers
  • irn614729
  • 2018.217.2
  • 2018.218.1
  • 2018.217.1
Dates
1932 - 2015
Level of Description
Item
Languages
  • English
  • German
  • Hebrew
Source
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

box

1

Creator(s)

Biographical History

Regina Gertner (born Regina Nurnberg, 1921-2015) was born in Buczacz, Poland (Buchach, Ukraine) on April 8, 1921 to Chana Andermann and Moses Nurnberg. She had two sisters, Betka (b. 1919) and Malcia (later Malcia Gelbard, 1924-2007). Regina finished her gymnasium studies in 1939 and wanted to study to become a pharmacist when WWII began. On January 28, 1940, she married Hersch Fenster (b. 1908, Popovtse), a businessman from a small town near Tluste (Vovste, Ukraine), and on November 12, 1940 their daughter Lusia (now Lucy Gertner) was born in Buczacz. In June 1941, German troops occupied Buczacz, followed by mobile killing unit Einsatzgruppen D in July 28. In late 1942, a walled ghetto was established, and the living conditions and resulting typhus epidemic took the lives of countless people. From October 1942 through May 1943, the Nazis conducted a series of Actions in Buczacz, in which thousands of Jews were rounded up and sent to Belzec concentration camp or shot at a site near Fedor Hill.

After the German occupation, Lusia, Regina and Hersch fled, hiding both in Buczacz and in the Tluste ghetto. In 1942 Regina's brother-in-law, Samuel Gertner, arranged with a Greek Orthodox priest for Lusia to be hidden in a convent in Czerwonogrod, Ukraine. A Polish woman left two-year old Lusia at the door of the convent, and the nuns, not realizing that she was Jewish, took her in. In the following years, the nuns and children at the convent suffered much hunger, and Lusia contracted pneumonia, but she remained there until the end of the war.

After securing Lusia's safety, Regina and Hersch went into hiding with the help of a Polish friend named Wolynski. They hid in a small bunker located below a stable, in the Kosciuskowka Colony near Tluste, with one of Hersch's sisters, Chana Fenster Rum, her husband Abraham Rum, and their daughter Esther (later Esther Zarembski).

In 1942 or 1943 Hersch left the hiding place to check on another of his sisters Pesse Fenster Schechner. He was to return and take Regina to a different hiding place that he had arranged for both of them, but was shot when he left the bunker. Regina remained in the bunker, but when the Soviet army entered Buczacz in March of 1944, she was in such poor health she was unable to walk out of the bunker unassisted. Several months later, in July of 1944, the German army retook the area and the Soviet army was forced to retreat.

Regina's older sister, Betka, who had also been hidden during the war, was informed on by a Polish woman, and was killed by the Germans. Her younger sister, Malcia, survived and later married Simon Gelbard. Hersch’s sister Scheindale (Sabina) and her young daughter Udale were killed near the end of the war.

After the end of the war, Regina tried to reunite with her daughter, but the convent nuns were reluctant to release her. They were finally reunited after a group of Regina's friends and several Russian soldiers helped remove Lusia. Local Ukrainians learned that the convent had sheltered Jewish children and burned it down the day after Lusia left, killing all or many of the remaining nuns and children.

Regina and Lusia travelled to Vienna, the Salzburg displaced person camp, and Munich before arriving at the Föhrenwald displaced persons camp in May of 1945. Lusia, who was very ill with tuberculosis, recuperated at a hospital at Gauting, and later at Bad Wöerishofen. Regina worked in the camp as an assistant immigration officer with UNRAA and the Joint Distribution Committee. She married Hersch’s brother, Samuel Gertner, in 1948. They immigrated to the United States onboard the USS General M.B. Stewart arriving on September 4, 1949.

Acquisition

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection, gift of Lucy Gertner

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection, gift of Lucy Gertner

Donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018 by Lucy Gertner. An accretion was also donated in 2018.

Scope and Content

The collection primarily documents the post-war experiences of Regina, Lucy, and Samuel Gertner in the Foehrenwald displaced persons camp. Biographical materials include DP camp identification papers, International Refugee Organization documents, immigration papers, marriage certificates, report cards, postcards received at Foehrenwald, and restitution claims. Photographs include pre-war depictions of Regina’s first husband, Hersch Fenster and his sister Scheindale, Lucy as a hidden child in a convent in Czerwonogrod, Ukraine, and the family in Foehrenwald.

System of Arrangement

The collection is arranged as two series. Series 1. Biographical material, 1946-2015; Series 2. Photographs, 1932-1948 and undated

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions on access

People

Corporate Bodies

Subjects

Genre

This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.