Regina Loss-Fisior, born in 1927
The past is my present
I was born in Baranowicze, in the Nowogródek province (at present, Belarus), where I lived with my parents and siblings until 1934. My father, Grzegorz Loss, was a teacher. My mother, Franciszka Loss, née Liss, was occupied with bringing up her children, Eugenia, Sonia, Adam, and Regina.
Our home with its beautiful garden and orchard on Ułańska Street (near Szeptycki Street) was always very hospitable. My parents devoted much time and effort, as well as money, to help the poor and orphans.
From 1934 on, we lived in Gdynia. At the time, my father was co- owner of a business trading in fruit from the south. My brother and I continued our studies in elementary school and, subsequently, in high school. My sisters, Eugenia and Sonia, were already studying at the university. Eugenia completed law studies in Warsaw and began a legal apprenticeship. She married Adolf Aldberg, an architectural engineer. Sonia studied in the Department of Medicine in Wilno. While there, she also got married, to Borys Goldbarg, a doctor of dentistry.
At the end of August 1939, my parents and I, together with my brother, Adam, went from Gdynia to Wilno to the home of my sister, Sonia Loss-Goldbarg. Soon, my sister Eugenia Loss-Aldberg and her husband arrived there, too. In October 1939, my parents, my brother, and I returned to Baranowicze. Both sisters and their husbands stayed in Wilno. My parents worked. My brother and I attended high school with Russian as the language of instruction.
After the outbreak of the Soviet-German war on June 22, 1941 and the invasion of Nazi troops into these territories, the persecution of Jews began. The first roundup involved twenty doctors. In spite of the fact that a ransom had been paid and that there were promises to free them, they were all shot to death. Even before the ghetto was organized, every day, a few people were killed in a bestial manner, primarily pious Jews with beards. Falling as victims were also pharmacists and, at other times, lawyers, (for example, the attorney, Charlip), teachers (Mr. and Mrs. Feldman), or musicians, as well as others.
At the end of August 1941, the Nazis seized eighteen children, and I found myself among them. They transported us out of town on a truck, and there they told us to jump into an open fire. They beat us and pushed us into the flames. It was truly a nightmare. An Austrian officer (he introduced himself as such), who happened to be driving by on the road, rescued us. He yelled at those soldiers and ordered them to halt their murderous entertain- ment, “merrily burning children on a pyre.” He took us on his truck almost to the center of town. His driver assisted us in both getting in and getting out of the truck. Dora Epstein and Mira Kuryniec were with me.
In 1941, when August was turning into September, the Nazis organized a ghetto in the outskirts of Baranowicze, and, a short time later, suddenly ordered us to move closer to the center of the city to Orzeszkowa Street. Murderous mass “actions” were becoming more and more frequent, especially during Jewish holidays. The Nazis and the Belarussian policemen conducted cruel selections aimed at old people, but on some occasions, at underage children. At one time, they would murder only old people, and another time, only small children. As a rule, after such executions, there followed massive actions of killing any Jews, after which, each time, the area of the ghetto was reduced. The Nazi butchers (German, Lithuanian, and Belarussian) engaged in looting both in the abandoned homes and inside the area of the shrunken ghetto.
At the end of August 1942, during one such mass extermination, I found myself with my mother in a shelter of some friends (Mrs. Czużyj, Mr. Berkowicz), because we could not manage to reach our own. My father was in a shelter at a friend’s, and my brother, at a colleague’s in yet a different location.
We were several dozen persons. We found ourselves in total isolation from the world for about seven days. After a few days, we ran short of water, and as to food, from the beginning, there was almost none. My mother, as the bravest one among the many men and adult women in this shelter, decided, of her own free will, to go outside in order to get information of concern to us all. It turned out that the action was already over, the ghetto had already been reduced in size, and our shelter was now located beyond its grounds. My mother led us all out of there safely, all the way to the “new” smaller ghetto. The stay in the shelter and bringing us to this “temporarily” permitted place required much dedication and quick wits.
On October 22, 1942, my father perished during the mass murders in the ghetto in Baranowicze. After these annihilations, we found our- selves in an even smaller ghetto. In a large building adjoining the ghetto, they assembled Jewish craftsmen, who were forced to work sewing uni- forms and performing other services for German officers and soldiers.
Life in the ghetto was becoming more and more difficult. Accompanying us constantly was the fear of death which threatened us at all times. Hunger plagued us more and more frequently. We experienced the tragedy of many thousands having been murdered here in Baranowicze and in the nearby smaller towns. Reports of the murders of Jews hiding on the Aryan side also reached us.
These tragic events and the prospects of the total annihilation of the ghetto had an extremely destructive influence on many people. They no longer wanted to live. They did not see and did not believe in the possibility of a successful escape from the ghetto. Some prayed devoutly and turned to their belief in a divine power. Others stopped believing in God! There were also those who thought of organizing resistance and living or dying with dignity. My mama undertook an attempt to escape and, in this manner, she saved my brother and me, along with a married couple and their three children who came from Warsaw (teachers, friends of Janina and Herszel Żelichower, a tailor from Warsaw).
After our escape from the ghetto, we hid in remote country farms in the surroundings of the villages of Hryckiewicze and Nielepowo, as well as in Orda Tatarska, thirty kilometers from Nieśwież, in the homes of Poles, Belarussians, and Tartars.
Several times, for a period of several months, I hid in the barn of Jan and Rozalia Chazbijewicz in Orda Tatarska, which was inhabited by Tartars. We were also provided shelter over a longer period of time by Justyna and Paweł Pawlik, and also, for short stays, by Maria Cybula, Adam Niedźwiecki and family, Aniela Wadiejewa and family, Iwan Symonik, as well as by Wanda and Bogdan Borkowski.
In those circumstances, we also lived in mortal fear of losing our lives. Belarussian police and special German units organized roundups of partisans, and they conducted searches of the area, including homes and barns. At those times, we would hastily escape to the forest, sometimes into wild-growing rye or wheat, in order to protect our hosts from tragic consequences had we been discovered at their places. Even before the final flight from the ghetto, I hid out several times for a few days with Maria and Franciszka Kurzawa, a Polish family, very noble people, who assisted us, without any compensation, in crossing over to the Aryan side.
After the end of the Soviet-German war in June 1944, the three of us (Mama, my brother, and I) returned to Baranowicze. We learned that my oldest sister, Eugenia, had survived the occupation and was in Wilno. Both sisters and their husbands had stayed in the ghetto in Wilno. Their husbands had been murdered there. My sisters escaped from the ghetto and hid with Polish people in the vicinity of Woronów near Lida. My sister, Sonia, perished tragically. She was shot to death by the Gestapo in Woronów.
June 1944 – hostilities ended for this part of Poland, but World War II was not over until May 8, 1945.
After our return to Baranowicze in June 1944, Mama worked. My brother and I studied in a Russian middle school. In July 1945, came our repatriation to Poland. Initially, we settled in Łódź, but subsequently, we came to Gdańsk, where I received my matriculation certificate.
Afterwards, I began studies in the Department of Natural Science, Anthropology Section, in Wrocław. After completing them in 1949, I passed the entrance examination for the first year of medical studies at the Academy of Medicine in Gdańsk. My studies lasted five years (1949– 54). After obtaining the diploma of doctor of medicine in November 1954, I began work in Clinic II of Internal Medicine at the Academy of Medicine in Gdańsk under Professor Dr. Jakub Penson.
On February 7, 1953, I married Jerzy Fisior, a student of law. On the 8th of August 1956, I gave birth to a daughter, Zofia, who brought much family happiness into our home.
I specialized in the area of internal medicine. From 1960 on, I also directed the Diabetes Center of the State Hospital Clinic I, Academy of Medicine, Gdańsk. I am continuing this work to the present moment, but since December 1990, with a reduced number of hours.
I worked in Clinic II of internal medicine from 1954 to July 6, 1980, until the moment of the tragic death (in an automobile accident) of my most beloved only daughter, Zofia, a splendid, noble, beautiful, and talented student in her sixth year of medical studies in the Department of Medicine, Academy of Medicine in Gdańsk. Her fiancé, Dr. Ryszard Friedlender, was killed along with her. These tragic events contributed to the death of my dear, beloved, wonderful mother.
Experiences full of tragedy connected with our stay in the ghetto and, subsequently, on the Aryan side and the events of recent years are etched deeply in my memory, causing an unrelenting longing and pain. For me, the past is continuously strongly tied to the present. I intend to write about it.
My husband is also very involved in his professional work as an attorney. My sister, Eugenia Loss-Jabłoński, also an attorney, has been living with her family in Israel since 1957. My brother, Adam Loss, an economist, settled together with his family in France in 1948.