A STREET in Warsaw destroyed during the failed 1944 uprising against Nazi occupiers.
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)
Hela Schuepper Rufeisen, one of the last survivors of the Jewish Combat Organization in the Warsaw Ghetto that was headed by Mordechai Anielewicz, died hours before the annual Holocaust remembrance ceremony in Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Ghetto plaza.
Rufeisen, who was a courier in both the Krakow and Warsaw ghettos, died on Sunday at the age of 96. She is one of the last, if not the last, survivor of Anielewicz’s fighting unit. It was Anielewicz who led the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, although there were other resistance organizations within the ghetto.
Although Rufeisen came from an Orthodox Jewish home, she received a secular education, including about Catholic prayers and traditions, which served her well when she was forced to pass herself off as a non-Jew.
Though apprehended several times, she was always able to either talk her way out of the situation or to escape prison, until she was injured, caught and sent to Bergen-Belsen in 1944. After the war, she gravitated between displaced persons camps and refugee camps before realizing her dream of coming to the Land of Israel.
She was one of the beacon lighters at Yad Vashem in 2003.
Her full story will appear in Tuesday’s edition of The Jerusalem Post