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Inventory of the Paula Kornblum Popowski Papers, circa 1893-2009

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: Negatives, slides, digital images, and other papers of Paula Kornblum Popowski, a Polish-born Jew who survived the Holocaust by passing as a Christian. Materials include pre- and post-war photographs of Popowski and her family and friends, photographs of locations where Popowski lived in Poland and Germany, and her false Polish identification papers. Other materials include postcards and letters sent to Popowski, mostly after the war.
Title: Paula Kornblum Popowski papers
Creator: Popowski, Paula Kornblum, 1923-
Date(s): circa 1893-2009  
Extent: 0.1 linear feet
(4 folders)
Repository: Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-8016
Fax: (843) 953-6319
Call Number: Mss 1065-015
Language of Material: Materials in English, Polish, Yiddish, and German

Biographical Note

Paula Kornblum was born on January 29, 1923, in Kałuszyn, Poland. She attended a Hebrew kindergarten followed by seven years of public school, customary for the time. On September 11, 1939, ten days after the German invasion of Poland, the Germans occupied Kałuszyn. By 1940, the flour mill owned by her grandfather was confiscated by the Germans, and a Jewish ghetto was established. In 1942, as the Germans prepared to deport 3,000 ghetto inmates to Treblinka, Kornblum's family made plans to escape. Her parents sewed buttons made from fabric-covered gold coins onto her dress, and she and her sister Hannah voluntarily went to a German labor camp to avoid deportation. Her remaining family members were deported to Treblinka and killed within days.

In November 1942, Kornblum and her sister slipped away from the labor camp and traveled to Warsaw. They survived by using money from the gold buttons to acquire fake identities and hiding places. While in hiding, they moved from Warsaw to Częstochowa, where they were able to get jobs in a glass factory and find shelter in a convent. They pretended to be Catholic until the end of the war.

After the Russians liberated Częstochowa in January 1945, Kornblum and her sister returned to Kałuszyn, where they discovered that their family's home had been destroyed. The family's flour mill, which had already been taken over by the Germans, had been nationalized by the Russians. Kornblum and her sister left Kałuszyn and arranged to be smuggled into the American zone of Berlin, Germany. From there, they traveled to a displaced persons camp in Landshut, a city outside of Munich. While there, Kornblum met Henry Popowski, a fellow native of Kałuszyn. They married in 1947 and immigrated to the United States in 1949 with their young son, Mark. After arriving in New York, they traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, with the help of Joseph and Rachel Zucker, whose parents had known Kornblum's family in Poland.

Collection Overview

Negatives, slides, digital images, and other papers of Paula Kornblum Popowski, a Polish-born Jew who survived the Holocaust by passing as a Christian. Images include pre- and post-war photographs of Popowski and her family and friends, including her mother, sister, and grandparents. Other images show locations where Popowski lived, including Kałuszyn and Częstochowa, Poland, and Landshut, Germany, and her false Polish identification papers and health insurance papers. Other materials include postcards and letters sent to Popowski, mostly after the war.

Collection Arrangement

Materials are described at the folder level.

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index this collection in the Library's online catalog. They are grouped by name of person, family, or organization, by topical subject, by place, and by types of material.


    • Popowski, Paula Kornblum, 1923-


    • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
    • Holocaust survivors--Poland
    • World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities
    • World War, 1939-1945--Jewish resistance--Poland


    • Poland--History--Occupation, 1939-1945

    Types of Material

    • Black-and-white negatives
    • Black-and-white slides
    • Digital images
    • Photocopies

    Related Resources

    Related Material

    Related materials in College of Charleston Special Collections include a 1997 oral history interview with Paula Kornblum Popowski (Mss 1035-148). Other materials include a curriculum package and resource guide for South Carolina Voices: Lessons from the Holocaust (Mss 1070, D804.3 .S34 1992). This documentary includes videotaped interviews with South Carolina Holocaust survivors, including Popowski.


    Negatives, slides, and photographs, circa 1906, 1941-1949, 1979, undated   folder 1

    Images show Popowski's mother, Sarah Roza Kornblum; Popowski with her sister, Hannah, in Częstochowa; post-war photographs of Popowski, her husband, Henry, and son, Mark; Popowski's false Polish identification and health insurance papers; and a photograph of the Wozniak family, the first Polish family to hide Popowski in Krakow. Two original photographs are included, one taken in Krakow in 1941 showing a Nazi officer on the street with several civilians, and one showing an Israeli memorial in a Tel Aviv cemetery erected by descendants of immigrants to Israel from Kałuszyn, Poland.

    Photocopies, circa 1906, 1936-1958, 1979, undated   folder 2

    Includes photocopies from the Kałuszyn Yizkor memorial book, showing Popowski as a child at a Purim party, with her sister in Częstochowa, and her false identification. Other photocopies include promissory notes signed by her grandfather, two uncles, and father, all used by Popowski's aunt to immigrate to Palestine before the war. Also includes photocopies of the images in folder 1.

    Digital images, circa 1893, circa 1906, 1936-1979, 1994, undated   folder 3

    Images include pre-war photographs of Popowski's grandparents and extended family and letters and postcards written to Popowski before and after the war. Other images show the location of the flour mill and family home once owned by Popowski's grandfather and other locations where Popowski lived in Poland and Germany. Also includes digital images of the materials in folders 1 and 2.

    Notes, 2007, 2009, undated   folder 4

    Notes describe materials Popowski provided in 2007. Also includes 2009 notes from Popowski's daughter, Martha Berlin, identifying family members in several photographs.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    This collection is open for research.

    Copyright Notice

    The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

    The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Paula Kornblum Popowski papers, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Rebecca McClure, July 2011.

    Encoded by Rebecca McClure, December 2011.

    Reviewed and uploaded by Martha McTear, January 2012.

    Funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources supported the processing of this collection and encoding of the finding aid.

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