Marija Claire Hertz was born in Kolbuszowa, Poland on September 13, 1929. Her Parents were very religious Jews who owned a business in the industry of wholesale textiles. She lived in a large home with her family consisting of several aunts and uncles, her grandmother, and older brother Fredrick, as well as her younger sister Ana. She was a good student and was very interested in art. She often painted images of flowers, which were her favorite. She spent most of her time with her neighbor Jade who was nearly a year older than she.
When the Nazis obtained power in April of 1941 she was only about 12 years old. German forces fought Polish troops in a battle right in Kaluszyn. After bombs destroyed half of the town, they moved in with their cousin in another city in Poland. Shortly after they were deported to a large ghetto. The ghetto was full of children, elderly, sick, and people desperate for food. They struggled to survive but the worst had yet to come. Jade’s father snuck out to get food from the nearby village and was caught, beat, and shot down in the middle of the square. Marija Claire and her family were transferred to a smaller ghetto where they contained the stronger people. The previous ghetto was cleared out and nearly everybody was killed.
She, her parents, and siblings were deported to Auschwitz Birkenau Death camp. She was reunited with her best friend Jade and they stayed together while her family was ripped apart. She Her father spent the remains of