By Sylvia Safer
2G Member of the Czestochowa Landsmanshaft and board member of the North American Council for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

The small number of remaining Holocaust survivors has been diminished by the death of Pola Horowicz Sigiel of Suffern, New York, on March 11, 2009.

Pola Horowicz was born on April 12,1923 in Czestochowa, Poland. She was the only child of Aaron and Lea. In 1942, her parents were deported to Treblinka and Pola survived as a slave laborer in the Hasag Pelcery. She was liberated in January 15, 1945 by the Russians.

After liberation, in September 1945, Pola married David Sigiel in Czestochowa. Then they settled for a time in Bad Worishofen, Germany. where, in 1948, Pola gave birth to her daughter Lea, who was named after her own mother. Five months later, the Sigiels arrived in America and settled in the Bronx. David worked in the garment center and Pola worked as a cosmetician, and became president of Lea’s PTA. They enjoyed their family and friends and were known as positive, upbeat people.Pola never stopped loving her hometown of Czestochowa and, despite the tragic memories, bravely took the opportunity to visit in October of 2006 during a reunion of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and their Descendants.

At that reunion, and in the years since, Pola was a surrogate mother to many members of the second generation. With her enthusiasm, positive attitude, intelligence, sense of humor, interest and above all, her exceptional memory for people and places, Pola was a valued source of information and insight. She provided a bridge to the past for the sons and daughters of survivors, and brought them together Her daughter Lea called her the “Encyclopedia of Czestochowa” and she was indeed that, and much more. She enjoyed speaking with fellow survivors and the second generation about her beloved hometown, despite the painful war experiences. Even as she sat in her wheelchair, she was surrounded by younger generations, as she taught them and guided them through the labyrinth of the past. She had the dignity of a queen even as she told her jokes.

This was submitted by Pola to the website in the “Lives and Legends” section under the heading, “Pola Horowicz Sigiel, for her friends:

A Poem of my Beloved Czestochowa translated from the Polish

Everything on earth passes slowly
Memory of good fortune and of what brings pain
All that passes thus, seeks a purpose
One thing remains–memory.

In sweet memory of my friends, citizens of Czestochowa
who perished at the hands of the Hitlerites (1942):
Stefka Landau
Maryla Preger
Renia and Maryla Hoffman
Paulina Zeryker
Marysia Lewkowicz
Gutka Baum
Janek Stawski

For my best friend, Jerzy Rozenblat, who died the death of a hero fighting the Nazis, a member of the “ZOB” organization (Jewish Fighting Organization.)

Pola is survived by her daughter Lea and her husband Alan, her grandchildren Alexander, Andrea, and Geoffrey and his wife Jennifer. Her family and friends shared memories and stories at her graveside ceremony last Friday, and befitting Pola, there were jokes amid the tears

Pola will be remembered and missed at the next reunion in Czestochowa in October, 2009. Donations in her memory may be sent to The World Society of Czestochowa Jews and their Descendants, 401 Broadway, Suite 1200, New York, NY, 10013..