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The TBE Blog

Betty Lauer
b.1926

Oskar and Ilona Weissberger, had a daughter named Bertel “Betty” on March 1, 1926 in Hindenburg, Germany. She lived there with her parents and younger sister, Eva. Betty grew up in a town of 250,000 people with a heightened awareness of being Jewish and different than her gentile peers. She went to a Jewish day school and Hebrew school in the afternoon. Her family kept a kosher house. Her earliest memory in 1935-36, was of a tense environment. She remembers her parents trying to get visas, but realizing they did not get them early enough. Her father got to the US in March 1938. But by October 28, 1938, Betty, her mother and sister were rounded up and expelled from Germany. They were sent to Poland.

Uncle Zygmut, Betty’s mom’s brother, lived in Poland and took them in. For the next three years, Betty, her sister and mother moved 14 times amongst different relatives. No one was able to take all three of them in together, which was hard to separate a family with young children. It was also difficult in Poland because Betty didn’t speak any Polish. They had a hard time getting food and staying in touch because all their mail was censored. They were forced to carry registration cards to show that they were Jewish.  In 1941 Betty was able to move to Krakow with her Mother. As soon as Germany invaded Poland, and war broke out, they took a train an hour away to be with Betty’s Grandparents. 

In 1942 they were deported to a ghetto in Krosno, Poland, which was occupied by Germany. They were able to rent a room, outside the ghetto in a Polish owned house that was occupied by German Soldiers, where Ilona hid Betty and Eva. They could not have gotten through this period of time without Pan Majerowicz. He helped advise Ilona with how to help her family.

Betty continued to have good luck by getting a job that allowed her to attain work papers. These said that she was an essential worker for the food supply for the German Army. She was surrounded by a group of people that were all looking out for one another. In 1943 she escaped via train to Warsaw. Once in Warsaw they were able to get forged papers that said she was Christian. She and her mom constantly dyed their hair blonde to fit in with their paper description. She was able to get a job as a live-in nanny. This was great because she had a free room and food. Many of her relatives were killed in the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto. In 1945 Soviet troops liberated her and her family.

In December 1946, she was able to get to the United States through Sweden, by hiding on a Swedish Ship. She was able to meet up with her father here in the States. When her father asked about her mother and sister she told him that she had lost her sister and was separated from her  mother.  In 1948 she met an American attorney named Larry Lauer. Also, in 1948 her mother came to America and was reunited with her father. She and Larry had two sons, Allan and Richard.