Double identity

Kamaria Keely, Staff Reporter

Born into the chaos of the Adolph Hitler rising, Felicia Graber was born March 26, 1940 in Tarnow, Poland. Felicia and her family were moved into a ghetto in 1941 when she was only 1-year-old. She had to experience a life of living in one room with another family.

“Ghettos were like prison. You didn’t get a home, just a room. We were lucky enough to not have to share our room with too many families,” said Ms. Graber, who came to North on her birthday to tell many students about her experience.

On September 10, 1942, Felicia and her parents almost lost their lives. They were waiting at a train station to be deported to a death camp in Auschwitz. Fortunately, a family friend was able to help them and they were sent back to the ghetto.

Though she was too young to remember or understand what life was like, Graber remembered having to go through an extreme change in life. She had to change her identity at age 2 in order to escape the ghetto and find someplace safer to live.

Her new name was Slusarczyk, a little Catholic girl. She and her mother escaped the ghetto and left town to Warsaw. Her father chose to stay behind for many reasons. In Warsaw, young Slusarczyk began training to master her new identity. Her mother was very passionate about her learning to be a Catholic and keeping her old life a secret.

“Every night my mom would wake me up and ask me who I am and who lives in the house. She would not let me go back to sleep until I answered her correctly,” said Graber. She even learned the Lord’s Prayer and said it every night.

Eventually, her father was able to obtain false documents, but had to remain in hiding in their apartment away from both of them. Unfortunately, Slusarczyk only knew her father as her uncle. According to her mother, she and her mother were the only two in the home.

Graber is able to laugh about her little mistakes now, but when she was younger she accidentally blabbed and told some friends about her true identity and another time she told someone where her father was.

“I’m Catholic, but I’m really a Jew…my daddy’s name is Shiomo, a Jewish name,” Graber admitted to people at that time. Both of the times that she revealed personal information, she and her parents had to find somewhere else to live.

Ms. Graber has been in America since December 24, 1963 and is telling her story to many high school students. She believes that today’s teenagers need to hear about the Holocaust.

“You will be the last generation and some people may try to say the Holocaust never happened. You guys can back it up and say yes it did,” she said.
Graber has published a book called Amazing Journey: Metamorphosis of a Hidden Child explaining all that she went through. Soon she will publish her father’s memoir.

Graber is one of the youngest Holocaust survivors and wants to tell as many people about it before she dies. She has the hope that there is something that the U.S. citizens can do to make sure that something like the Holocaust does not happen again.

“If you guys stand up for what’s right and don’t just be a bystander then you’ll be unstoppable.”