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Przeworski-Pratt, Anna | Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Name: Przeworski-Pratt, Anna
Variant Name: Epstein, Esther

Historical Note:

Anna Przeworski-Pratt was born in Czestochowa, Poland. She completed her studies of law at the University of Warsaw. Her intentions were to become a judge, and she applied for such a position. Her application was denied on the basis of semi-official ethno-religious and gender restriction, namely she was Jewish and woman. Anna chose quite a common path for the Jewish jurists of that time. She joined a bar association. Soon she become a lawyer. As early as 1937, she opened a law office of her own in Czestochowa. In the same year, a Jewish pogrom occurred in Czestochowa to which Anna refers in her testimony/letter.

Anna Przeworski-Pratt lived in Czestochowa, when Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. During the first week of the war, she, her parents, and two brothers moved to Łódź and then to Warsaw. She stayed in Warsaw until 13 October 1939, when she ultimately returned to Czestochowa. The war was over by the end of September 1939; when central, west and north Poland was occupied by Germany. Polish eastern territories (eastern Galicia, western Belorussia and western Wolyn)  were annexed by the Soviet Union according to the Stalin-Hitler agreement, known as the Secret Protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which was signed 23rd of August 1939.

In Czestochowa, Mrs. Przeworski-Pratt being a well-educated professional found a job with the Judenraet (German-ordered Jewish Council) in Czestochowa.  The Judenraet put her in charge of the office for commerce and industry.  Largely, Anna does not refer to this Jewish Council by its official German name, but rather by its unofficial pre-war title – the Council of Seniors. It was true, because the Germans reinstated the pre-war executive body of the local Jewish community. Her position was among the elevated and privileged ones within the Judenraet hierarchy. The Germans honored the authorizations for trade and commerce issued by Mrs. Przeworski-Pratt office. Helping people, she issued a number of fake business permits. Despite being an upper-level Judenraet’s employee, she remained in confrontation with its Chairman Leon (Lejb) Kopinski. Anna resented the Chairman’s negligence towards the ordinary ghetto inhabitants and his preferred treatment of the wealthy and influential people.

Mrs. Przeworski-Pratt witnessed to several round-ups and actions in the ghetto, which resulted either in mass deportation to Treblinka Death Camp or in mass killings at the Jewish cemetery in Czestochowa. In this testimony, she describes the Yom Kippur Action of 22 September 1942. Being aware of the upcoming action, the members of the Judenraet collected 100,000 German Marks and passed the money to Stadthauptmann Franke, the German commandant of the town. The latter assured them that the action had been canceled. Hower, the anti-Jewish action took place some time later under the order of Degenhard, the other SS commander.

At the end of March 1943, the Germans annihilated the Jewish intelligentsia of the Czestochowa ghetto – doctors, lawyers, and the majority of the Judenraet members. This mass killing took place at the Jewish Cemetery. Anna and her sister Tamara survived this action. Mrs. Przeworski-Pratt also witnessed to the last action in the ghetto that took place on 26 June 1943, when all the remaining Jewish youth, around 500 people, were murdered at the Jewish cemetery.

Anna and her sister Tamara were among those fortunate selected by the Germans for forced labor. From 22 March 1943 through 15 January 1945, they worked at the ammunition factory ‘Hassag-Peltzery’ in Czestochowa. When the Soviet Army’s soldiers had already taken Czestochowa, the remaining laborers of ‘Hassag-Peltzery’ were rapidly evacuated to the concentration camp Gross Rosen in Lower Silesia (Germany, nowadays Poland). Soon after the arrival to Gross Rosen, Anna and her sister Tamara were transferred to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp. They remained prisoners of this camp from 23 January 1945 until the beginning March 1945. The next camp, they had been transferred to was a sub -camp of Dachau—the concentration camp Burgau in Bavaria. Since March 1945, owing to the advancing American armed forces, the camp prisoners were transferred  from camp to camp. For many, those marches became death marches. Ultimately, the German guards lest their column in the rural area unguarded. De facto, they were no longer camp prisoners since 27 April 1945. The German camp official announced to them that the war was over.

Mrs. Przeworski-Pratt provides the detail-oriented description of the postwar period in Germany. She worked as an attorney for the UNRA offices and took part in the war-crime trials as the witness. She was also present at the Nurnberg Trial of the major German war criminals in 1946.

From 1946 to 1949, Anna Przeworski-Pratt, then known as Estera Epstein worked for the Legal Department of the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in US Occupation Zone of Germany as an attorney. She served as a defense attorney in the trials against the Jewish collaborators. For example, she defended Dawid Gertler and Henryk Gliksman.

In 1949, Mrs. Przeworski-Pratt and her sister Tamara arrived in New York. She ultimately moved to Los Angeles.

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