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Author photo. Krystyna Chiger [Credit:Mark Veltman for NYT]

Krystyna Chiger [Credit:Mark Veltman for NYT]

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In early childhood, Krystyna Chiger and her brother Pawel led a happy life in their beautiful home with their parents, Ignacy and Paulina Chiger, Polish Jews living in Lvov, a leading cultural and industrial center. She was only 7 years old when Nazi Germany invaded her country at the start of World War II. By December 1941, the Germans had forced the city's 150,000 Jews into a brutal ghetto and began deportations to forced labor and death. Krystyna's family escaped the liquidation of the ghetto with other Jews by hiding in the stench and darkness of the sewers below Lvov for 14 months. When heavy rain fell, the water nearly reached the ceiling of the sewer and Krystyna's parents had to hold their children above the waterline so they could breathe. They were saved from death by Leopold Socha, a Polish Catholic sewer worker who brought them food every day until the end of the war. The family went to live in Krakow to escape the Russian Zone and in 1957 they emigrated to Israel. She became a dentist and married another Holocaust survivor, with whom she had two children. In the 1970s, they emigrated to the USA. Her memoir, The Girl in the Green Sweater, was published in 2008. The story of her group's survival also was the subject of a 2011 Oscar-nominated film, In Darkness, directed by Agnieszka Holland.
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