The photo that named a Holocaust survivor

Leah Herschman, wouldn’t even know her name if it wasn’t for this precious faded photograph.

"This is a historic photograph for me (CLOSE OF PHOTO OF LEAH AS A BABY). This is a photograph that my mother sent to her mother, who hadn't seen me. (VIEW OF LEAH TALKING) and she writes: 'A souvenir from the war, to my beloved grandfather and grandmother', and she signs as if she was me: 'Leah Herschman', and that's how I learned my name that was given to me by my parents. This is the only source. That's why this is a historic photograph."

Leah was a baby when her parents, Pipha and Zvi Herschman, were murde red in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Wednesday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Leah is one of the few remaining survivors.

"In this photograph, since there is no writing on its back... there is no doubt that I am the baby (CLOSE OF PHOTOGRAPH OF LEAH AND A WOMAN SHE BELIEVES TO BE HER MOTHER) and I assume that the woman who holds me is my mother (VIEW OF LEAH TALKING) but it's not very clear because nothing was written (on the back of the photo)."

The Jewish infant was rescued by a priest who placed her in an orphanage run by nuns.

"He (a Polish policeman) took me and placed me on the railroad tracks and ran to his priest to confess what he had done. The priest told him: 'Go quickly and bring her to me', and apparently it wasn't much of a distance because he made it. The priest handed me over to an orphanage, war orphanage, that was run by nuns where local villagers who didn't have children came to adopt children. This is how I arrived at a childless family at the age of 9 months."

The stories and photos of Jewish youngsters, many of them orphans like Leah, are part of a new online exhibition called "My Lost Childhood".

It's showing at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.

Many were reunited with relatives and went on to live their lives in Israel, the U.S., Canada, Latin America and other destinations.

After the war, Leah's aunt learned that her sister had given birth.

The aunt won a court custody battle against the adoptive parents in Poland and brought the child to Israel in 1949.

Leah now faces new risks from a coronavirus pandemic.

But holds fast to her life's motto.

"I took upon myself, even though I don't always know how, to turn darkness into light and bitter into sweet, and it is possible, this is my life's motto because I have learned that in the course of life, things, which we have no control over, happen to us, but we can control and choose what we do with them and how we see them."

Video Transcript

Leah Herschman wouldn't even know her name if it wasn't for this precious faded photograph.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: This is a historic photograph for me. This is a photograph that my mother sent to her mother, who hadn't seen me. And she writes, "a souvenir from the war to my beloved grandfather and grandmother." And she signs as if she was me, Leah Herschman. And that's how I learned my name that was given to me by my parents. This is the only source. That's why this is a historic photograph.

- Leah was a baby when her parents, Pipha and Zvi Herschman, were murdered in Nazi-occupied Poland. Wednesday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Leah is one of the few remaining survivors.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

In this photograph, since there is no writing on its back, there is no doubt that I am the baby.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

And I assume that the woman who holds me is my mother, but it's not very clear because nothing was written.

- The Jewish infant was rescued by a priest who placed her in an orphanage run by nuns.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: He took me and placed me on the railroad tracks and ran to his priest to confess what he had done. The priest told him, go quickly and bring her to me. And apparently it wasn't much of a distance because he made it. The priest handed me over to an orphanage, war orphanage, that was run by nuns, where local villagers who didn't have children came to adopt children. This is how I arrived at a childless family at the age of nine months.

- The stories and photos of Jewish youngsters, many of them orphans like Leah, are part of a new online exhibition called "My Lost Childhood." It's showing at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. Many were reunited with relatives and went on to live their lives in Israel, the US, Canada, Latin America, and other destinations. After the war, Leah's aunt learned that her sister had given birth. The aunt won a court custody battle against the adoptive parents in Poland and brought the child to Israel in 1949. Leah now faces new risks from a coronavirus pandemic, but holds fast to her life's motto.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: I took it upon myself, even though I don't always know how, to turn darkness into light and bitter into sweet. And it is possible.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

This is my life's motto because I have learned that in the course of life, things which we have no control over happen to us. But we can control and choose what we do with them and how we see them.