We Who Lived

Two Teenagers in World War II Poland

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About the Book

Hava (Eva) Bromberg and Ephraim Sokal were Jewish teenagers in Poland when the Nazis invaded in 1939. Hiding in plain sight, Bromberg lived among the non–Jewish Polish population, always in danger of discovery or betrayal.
Sokal and his family were deported as “enemies of the people” when the Russians occupied eastern Poland—a calamity that saved their lives. Liberated by the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Sokal fought the Germans, serving with the Polish Navy and British armed forces.
Bromberg and Sokal met in 1947, both facing the challenges of surviving in a postwar world they were unprepared for. This combined memoir tells their story of resilience.

About the Author(s)

Retired librarian Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi served for 27 years as the director of the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles. She is the recipient of the Ezra Award from the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles for her contributions to Jewish education. She visits schools and libraries, telling audiences about her years of tears, in the hope that such events will not occur again.

Bibliographic Details

Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 231
Bibliographic Info: 61 photos, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7008-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3119-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Foreword by Justine M. Pas 1

Preface 5

Prologue: At the Gate 9

 1. My Family 11

 2. Life with Father 26

 3. I Remember 39

 4. War 47

 5. Under the Germans 59

 6. The Orphanage 70

 7. On the Farm 80

 8. Special Attentions 86

 9. Our World in Europe at Peace 92

10. Displaced Persons (DP) Camp 101

11. Forging a New Future 110

12. A New Friend 115

13. The Event That Changed Their Lives 124

14. In the Kolkhoz 129

15. Siberia 133

16. Germany, Now a Common Enemy 137

17. Return to Poland 140

18. Building a New Life 144

19. The Rebirth of Israel 146

20. Newlyweds 155

21. New Horizons 166

22. End Matters: Love and Loss 179

Aftermath: Martyrs and Survivors 184

Postscript 200

Appendix Chronology, 1933–1945: Major Events of World War II with Emphasis on the Holocaust and the Events in Our Lives 205

Bibliographic Essay 209

Index 217

Book Reviews & Awards

“This is a cautionary tale. It serves not only as witness to the events of World War II, but as testimony to how rapidly our lives can collapse in the face of battling political forces, demagoguery and nationalist governments. It is not just a lesson in history it is a glorious story of resilience, strength, and hope. It is a terrific read that belongs in all libraries. For Hava Ben-Zvi is more than a wonderful writer. She is Eva Bromberg, the girl who lived.”—Irene E. McDermott, City Librarian, Crowell Library, City of San Marino; “Hava Ben-Zvi revisits her childhood experiences with courage, honesty and humility. By taking us through the war and the later years rebuilding their lives in Israel and later California, this work is a testament to the human spirit and to the courage of those whose choices helped them survive. As survivors, Hava and Ephraim show us two different experiences bonded in love and with a commitment for future generations to create a more peaceful and just world. This is an inspirational story, which will bear witness, and educate about the power of empathy and standing up to hate.”—Marti Tippens Murphy, Executive Director, Facing History and Ourselves, Memphis.