Mania Schwartzman

Young woman in 1940s era clothing
    “That night I left Tuchyn with my sister Basia. My mother Rivka and my brothers David and Liova were killed in the ghetto. Out of all of our family, including uncles and aunts and their families, only we remained, my sister Basia and I.”
    Mania Schwartzman

    During the war, Mania lost most of her family, as her brother Leib died serving in the Russian army. Mania fled from the ghetto together with her little sister, Basia. Their Polish nanny Zosia hid them at first. Then, she moved the sisters to their neighbors, who hid them in the basement. Later, Mania and Basia left Tuchyn with falsified papers. Mania took the name of a Polish friend Maria and passed the war with her sister hidden by and working for a Czech family.

    After the war, Maria (formerly Mania) met her future husband Alexander Kouts. Alexander was from a neighboring village of Berezne and led a group of Russian partisans who fought against the German forces. They decided not to stay in the Soviet Union but go to Poland. First, they went to Lodz, where Alexander had high government responsibilities. They got married in 1945 and in 1948 their son Eugeniusz was born.

    Listen to her son tell the story of life after the war.

    Image of man sitting in between two women, all smiling.
    Photo of Maria (Mania) Schwartzman Kouts, Alexander Kouts and Basia Schwartzman, c. 1940s, Courtesy Gideon Kouts.

    In 1950, Maria and Alex moved to the Polish capital Warsaw, which was ruined during the war. After the war people began rebuilding the city and it felt like a “revival” for Maria. She loved city life.

    Maria, her husband Alexander, Basia, and their son Eugeniusz eventually made aliyah, or emigrated, to Tel Aviv in Israel in 1957. There, Maria took the name Miriam, Basia became Batia, and Eugeniusz took the name Gideon. Basia had two sons, Ronny and David. Ronny was killed serving his country as an Israeli soldier during the Lebanon War. Miriam passed away in 2008. Hear her son Gideon speak about his mother and this difficult past.