b'WESTERN MARBLE ARCH SYNAGOGUEBARBARA (BATIA) SIERATZKI HARRY SIERATZKIM y beloved mother was born on the 28th March 1926 in Cracow. Her father, Yehiel, had Semichah from the famous Opatow Yeshiva, and was learned but not strictly observant. Her mother, Gusti, was the first woman in her family not to wear a sheitel. She worked as a bookkeeper and made sure that her two daughters, my mother and her older sister Ida, had an excellent general and Jewish education. My mothers childhood memories were happy. At the wars outbreak, her parents were in Prague. The girls were staying with their grandmother in Cracow. Barbara was in the Planten Park when she noticed many airplanes with boxes falling out of them. When these boxes hit the ground, they exploded. Life became immediately very difficult. Her parents sent a messenger to Cracow to fetch their daughters. The evening before the journey, Ida kissed Barbara and left for Lemberg in Russian-occupied eastern Poland. When she tried to return, she was arrested and sent to a coal mine in northern Russia. Somehow, Ida not only survived but later joined the Red Army. That next morning, Barbara was taken to the train station and hidden inside a coal tender. When she arrived in Prague, Yehiel was praying and Barbara had to swear on his Tefillin that Ida, whom her father called my Sefer Thoirele, was alive. Yehiel had obtained visas to Portugal and South America but would not leave Ida behind. So, the family stayed. Barbara went to school in Prague and learned three new languages, in addition to the Polish, Hebrew, Yiddish, and German she already spoke: Czech, English and French. Yehiel said that knowing languages could save her life. One day in early 1941, they were warned not to go home. Their names were on the list of Jews to be arrested. They left Prague on foot and walked towards the Hungarian border. Yehiel was able to procure Christian papers allowing them to live in Budapest. Barbara went to a Catholic school and picked up an eighth language, Hungarian, which she spoke fluently throughout her life. For a while, life was relatively safe - but in 1944 that changed. They could not go home. Every night, Yehiel found a new flat where they could sleep for a few hours. During the daytime, they sat in coffee shops, to avoid the risk of being picked up on the street. In autumn 1944, they tried to escape to Romania and were arrested in Szeged. Barbara never saw her father again. He was deported to Auschwitz, survived the camp and the death march, but succumbed to typhus in Dachau on 22nd Adar Sheni, in March 1945. Barbara and Gusti were first held in a garden shack in Szeged. At night, the younger prisoners escaped but Barbara stayed with her mother. They were then taken to the Gestapo prison in Budapest where Hannah Senesh was held. Hannah made paper dolls for the children in prison and Barbara was the go between. Thirty five years later, at a Survivors meeting in Jerusalem, a woman recognised Barbara as the young woman who had brought her one of Hannahs dolls. 36'