Bella Kurant’s Memoir of the Nazi Era
When Bella Kurant was fifteen, she lived through the German bombing of Warsaw, Poland, at the beginning of WWII. After witnessing those horrors, Bella returned home to her parents in Skrzynno, seeking shelter and safety. Bella found neither shelter nor safety for six long years. In October 1942, the SS and the Einsatzgruppen liquidated the Jews of Skrzynno. Escaping her hometown, Bella began her torturous journey to freedom. She was incarcerated in many ghettos and labor camps from 1942 until her liberation in 1945: the Radom Ghetto, Szydlowiec Ghetto, Wolanów Labor Camp, Blizin Labor Camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau for a short time, Hindenburg Labor Camp, Dora-Nordhausen Camp, and finally to the hellish Bergen-Belsen Camp with its mountains of dead bodies. In those labor camps, Bella sewed uniforms, painted signs, and welded for the Nazis. Along the way, she endured death journeys on foot and by train. Yet despite her own pain and guilt, Bella saved the lives of two especially fragile women.
When Bergen-Belsen was liberated on April 15, 1945, Bella remained there, waiting for news of surviving family members. Despite her depression, she assisted other survivors in locating their families. Best of all she fell in love at first sight with Paul Fox, a Holocaust survivor from Włocławek, Poland. In 1946, the couple married and immigrated to the United States, where Bella finally found shelter and safety. Their child, Elan, was born in 1948. Although coping with many difficulties, the family eventually prospered in San Francisco, opening a kosher deli and a catering business.
After Paul’s death, Bella married Henry Slamovich, a Schindler Jew. Bella and Henry live in San Francisco surrounded by their loving children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The life story of this gitte neshuma, beautiful soul, will be an inspiration.