Research

Appleman-Jurman, Alicia

Survivor/Hidden
Buczacz (Poland)

Appleman-Jurman was born in 1930 and lived with her four brothers, mother, and father in Buczacz, Poland. Her family were Zionists and she describes them as very loving. In 1939 she recalls Polish soldiers moving through Galicia and that Poland had been annexed by the Russians. Although the Russians did not seem anti-Semitic, Appleman-Jurman notes that her family was still considered enemies of the Russian people because her father was a businessman and therefore considered a part of the bourgeoisie. When most of the Jews were deported Appleman-Jurman's uncle ensured their safety because his skill as a doctor was needed at the hospital.

During this time Appleman-Jurman also emphasizes how the Russians encouraged people to study in Russia. Her brother thought that if he studied in Russia he might somehow be able to secure the safety of his family. Conditions in Russia, however, were unbearable, and he was forced to return home. Upon his arrival, he was arrested and killed. Appleman-Jurman to this day does not know how or why he died.

Appleman-Jurman laments that during the Russian occupation she was not awarded any diplomas even though she studied very hard. She relates that Jewish persecution was absent per se, yet deportations often occurred. She also empathized with her Catholic friends, whose pictures of the Madonna were replaced by those of Stalin.

Appleman-Jurman remembers life changing drastically when Hitler broke his pact with Russia in 1941 and invaded. All men between the ages of eighteen and fifty were required to register. Appleman-Jurman recalls five hundred leading citizens going to "register." They never returned. Her father had been a part of this group, yet she refused to believe that he had been killed because he had been an officer on the Russian front in World War I. She spent days searching for her father in the woods before her brother finally told her of her father's fate. During a 1967 war crimes trial, one Nazi admitted that for days after they had killed the men, they continued to collect ransom money from their families, promising that their loved ones would be returned safely.

Appleman-Jurman was deported when two SS men entered their home while she was innocently playing chess with her brother and demanded that they board a train. During the journey she was thrown from the train and survived by rolling herself into a ball as she hit the ground. After she had recovered, Appleman-Jurman told her story to the Jewish Council. Her brother wanted to retaliate, but a rabbi convinced him that killing Nazis would only result in more Jewish deaths.

She recalls the horror she experienced as the SS surrounded the ghetto. They began murdering people and tossing their bodies into open graves. Appleman-Jurman, her brother, and his girlfriend managed to hide. Her brother's girlfriend perished shortly thereafter. After she had assisted a young boy in preparing for his exam, the boy's father turned her into the police and she was murdered without remorse. Her brother began to actively resist. He organized a resistance group, for which Appleman-Jurman believes he was later killed. One day as she strolled through the streets she came across her brother hanging from a tree. She spent the next day sobbing under the tree, interrupted by an antagonizing Ukrainian who placed a gun to her head. At that moment, under the hanging body of her brother, life meant little to Appleman-Jurman.

Appleman-Jurman's other brothers all met similar fates. One died in a Russian prison. One was executed as part of a collective punishment ritual. A boy had attempted to escape the ghetto and as a deterrent every tenth boy was executed. Appleman-Jurman's brother was one of them.

In 1943 Appleman-Jurman and her mother found refuge with an epileptic who had been kind enough to share his shack with them. Just before Christmas, some Ukrainians familiar with Appleman-Jurman arrived with the intention of murdering her and her mother. Appleman-Jurman managed to talk them out of killing them. Until they were liberated in 1944, Appleman-Jurman hid in a dog house. Her last encounter with the Germans ended with the death of her mother. As Appleman-Jurman was about to be shot, her mother threw herself in front of the bullet, thereby saving her life. Because the soldiers ran out of bullets, they let Appleman-Jurman live.

After the end of the war, Appleman-Jurman was unable to live any longer in her hometown because everyone who had been dear to her had perished. She estimates that out of the one-time population of 18,000, only seven people survived. She relates that even after the war had ended she still had to smuggle herself out of Poland because pogroms were still occurring there. As late as 1945 in Krakow, she recalls how Jews were taken off trams and executed by the Poles. As a result, she was required to take refuge in a synagogue for two weeks.

Appleman-Jurman tried to go to Palestine but the British stopped her ship, in the process killing several Jewish children. She was imprisoned on Cyprus for eight months before she was allowed to enter Palestine.

Interview Information:
Date: November 17, 1988
Length: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Interviewer: Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig
Format: Video recording