This is the story of Chęciny, my hometown in southern Poland, and of the people who lived there between the two world wars of the 20th Century.
The Nazi invasion of Poland in October 1939 started World War II. Millions of Polish Jews died in the ensuing Holocaust, including 4,000 citizens of Chęciny, and 50 members of my family. I was lucky: my mother, brother, three sisters and I had joined my father in America in 1930. I finished high school in Chicago, went to college and graduated from the University of Illinois Medical School. I became a doctor and a psychiatrist, setting up a long and rewarding private practice in Los Angeles that spanned more than 50 years.
Like the wall paintings in Pompeii, which offer a glimpse into the daily life of that city before the volcano, I hope that these stories offer a glimpse into the daily life of my hometown before the Holocaust.
But most of all, this is the story of my family, and a tribute to my beloved Aunt Chana and her daughter, my cousin Rachel, whose courage and self-sacrifice saved Miriam - Chęciny''s youngest survivor of the Holocaust - from the Nazi murderers.