Rachel’s Story: Chapter 4

Chapter 4

After her father’s death in February 1943, Rachel wandered the streets alone. She wasn’t able to eat or drink, and even forgot about her sisters. All she could think about was that her father was gone forever. It was a terrible time.

Then, as if in a dream, Rachel remembered that her sisters had been placed in orphanages. Rachel went to find her sister, Zvetla, and told her about the death of their father. They showed the administrators at the orphanage their father’s death certificate, and Rachel was allowed to stay there, as well.

There were many homeless children who roamed the streets without parents, so there were many orphanages. Rachel and Zvetla suffered in the orphanage, because many of the orphans had become young criminals while living on the streets. Rachel would often wake up to find that her belongings had been stolen during the night. When she tried to report the theft, she received beatings from the other children. So, the girls moved from one orphanage to another to protect themselves.

Rachel (third from the left in the top row), Chanka (top row, left), and Zvetla (middle row, second from right) at a children’s home after the war.

Rachel (third from the left in the top row), Chanka (top row, left), and Zvetla (middle row, second from right) at a children’s home after the war.

One day, Rachel was taken from one of the orphanages with a group of the older children and sent to a technical school to learn a profession. It was difficult for Rachel to be separated from her youngest sister, Zvetla, but at the school she was able to learn new skills, and even started earning a little money by knitting and selling her work. She was then able to find the orphanage where her middle sister, Chanka, had been placed. She sent Chanka a message, inviting her to come join her, and was able to take care of her once again.

Testimony: “School”

“They took me from there to a school for criminals.”

—Rachel Dershowitz

With her studies from the technical school, Rachel was able to start working at a copper mine and even became a manager there. Chanka also started working in the mines. Soon, however, the girls decided to use their income to travel back to the orphanage to find their youngest sister, Zvetla. They were eager to reunite as a family, having learned that the war was over.

Chapter 4



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