Yona Nadelman, born Yona Kunstler, was five years old when Nazi Germany invaded her native city, Krakow, Poland. Soon after the invasion, her family fled eastward to Lutsk, in the Soviet sector. While her parents continued towards Siberia, Yona was left in the care of her grandparents, who later secured her false identity papers. Yona’s uncle, a major seed merchant and distributor, had connections and arranged for Yona and two of her siblings to be hidden on the farm of a retired professor and his family in Klecsa Dolna.
For the duration of the war, Yona lived on this farm and was then reunited with her parents in Krakow. Yona’s father was arrested by Polish communists and was held in jail. As a result, Yona’s mother sent her and her cousins, who were now in her custody, to Lodz to join a children’s transport out of Poland. They traveled through Czechoslovakia, to Vienna and to numerous DP camps, and eventually settled in Ulm Dornstadt, a children’s camp. In 1946 Yona’s father was released from prison; Yona’s family moved to Paris, and later settled in Los Angeles, where she worked as a fashion designer.
Surviving the Holocaust: Stories of Life
An ongoing project of KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles
and Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in Pan Pacific Park