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Fleissig, Nika (1919-) | Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Name: Fleissig, Nika (1919-)
Variant Name: Kohn, Bronislawa

Historical Note:

Nika Fleissig (Bronislawa Kohn) was born in 1919, in Cracow. She went by a diminutive name Bronika in the family and friend circle. She acquired her new first name Nika after her registration with the U.S. authorities in 1946. Having married Alfred Fleissig this same year, she adopted his last name and since then was known as Nika Fleissig. Mrs. Fleissig begins her testimony with a description of her failed attempt to leave Poland for the USA, either before or soon after the German invasion of the country. Before the war, the family resided in Cracow. In 1940, their family was evicted from their apartment and transferred to a nearby town, Wieliczka. They stayed in here through the autumn of 1942, until the deportation had begun.

One day, the Jews were rounded up in front of the Town Hall. They waited for a train for many hours, not knowing their destination. When people were ordered on the train, a Polish policeman had pulled Bronika aside. Then he placed her in the cabin of the truck, next to a Polish driver. The truck drove off, and Bronika soon found herself in the outskirts of Cracow.

In Cracow, she got help from the family’s acquaintance Mrs. Pozniak. Since 1942 and through the whole war, Bronislawa lived under false identity as a Christian girl. The knowledge of foreign languages helped her immensely. As Maria Zylinska, she took part in the Warsaw Polish Uprising, in August-September 1944. After the Uprising was defeated in October 1944, Bronislawa (Maria Zylinska) as thousands of Polish women was sent to German concentration camps. The interned Polish resistance fighters were given a prisoner-of-war status. She was deported to the penal prisoner-of-war camp in Oberlangen, located in northwest Germany on the Holland border.

Although it was a Penal camp (Strafflager VI C in Oberlangen), Bronislawa worked as an interpreter in the camp’s office. On April 12, 1945, Polish soldiers of General Stanislaw Maczek’s 1st Armored Division that was part of the Second Canadian Corps liberated the camp.

In January 1946, she entered the United States under her real name Bronislawa Kohn. The immigration authorities altered her name to Nika (from her nickname Bronika). With a help of her relatives and friends, the acculturation process took almost no time for her. Five weeks after the arrival she married Alfred Fleissig who lost his family in the Holocaust.

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