Clara (Klara) Tilleman Eisenstein was born in Poland and attended law school at the University of Krakow. She married Leon Eisenstein (who came from France) in 1938 and they had one child named Irene. The Eisenstein family was in Boryslaw, Poland when the war started a year later. Boryslaw was briefly occupied by the Germans who then turned it over to the Russians. Germany re-occupied Borylsaw in July 1941 after they invaded the Soviet Union. In the short time between when the Russians fled and the Germans arrived the Poles and Ukrainians attacked and murdered Jews in the streets. The Germans executed 1,500 Jews shortly after their arrival. In a massive Aktion in August 1942 another 5,000 Jews were sent to Belzec death camp and murdered. Klara and Irene were put on board the trucks bound for Belzec but she managed to escape and hid in a drainage ditch until she could return to the city. Klara and Leon lost their entire family in that Aktion. In August 1942 the Germans set up two ghettos and pushed the Jews into them. Leon worked in the oil industry and so was a valued worker so he was spared from deportation. But Klara and Irene were at risk and once Klara hid in a basement during another roundup. Leon got Klara and Irene false papers under the name of a Christian Pole and for awhile Klara and Irene hid outside the ghetto with a Polish woman. Unfortunately, when the woman was threatened with death she turned them in. Klara and Irene were taken to the police station from which she escape once again. This time she fled into the countryside to a Ukrainian farmer that Leon had found who would shelter them. Klara and Irene had to hide in a haystack and the Ukrainian man repeatedly abused her every time he brought her food. Finally she could take it no more and fled into the forest and lived with other Jews who had dug caves in the ground and stole food at night. In August 1943 Leon also escaped and joined them in the forest. Eventually the family found refuge with a Polish woman who hid them under the floor of her house. Klara and Irene were very sick by this time. When the Polish woman opened the trapdoor and announced the the Russians had arrived Klara could not muster up much joy. The Eisensteins stayed in Boryslaw for a few months and then went west into Poland. They were smuggled into the American Zone in Germany and lived in Heidenheim. They wanted to go to Israel but instead they got permission to come to the United States. The Eisensteins settled in Atlanta, Georgia.
OHC-Clara (Klara) Tilleman Eisenstein
Clara (Klara) Tilleman Eisenstein - Oral History