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Norma Dimitry

Norma Dimitry describes how her family was rounded up and taken to Ponary to be executed.

Norma Dimitry, nee Sternsus, was born in 1923 in Vilna, Poland. She was the middle child in her family, with two brothers, Myran and Mordechai.  Her father, Yehuda, was a glazier/contractor and her mother, Rijsi, was a housewife. The family was very close and often did weekly activities with the extended family.  

Norma was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family and her mother kept a kosher home. Her family had formed relationships with non-Jews in her neighborhood who conducted business with her father. However, not all interactions were positive, as university aged gentiles would ‘get high’ and physically abuse the Jews. 

In June 1941, the Germans arrived in Vilna and created a Ghetto. Her father was able to obtain a permit to work for the HKP Company. Out of 35000 people, only 4000 were given permits. Those without a permit were taken away from the Ghetto. People were selected, taken away in trucks, stripped down, and shot into a mass grave. After they were finished with the killings, the guards would bring back the clothing to the Ghetto, where some people would recognize the garments. 

During the liquidation of the ghetto, the residents of the Vilna Ghetto were surrounded, and many were selected to be taken to Ponary. Her father, being in a trade, was sent with family to a work camp. Norma worked in the camp until March 1944 when a majority of her family was rounded up and taken to Ponary. In June, the Germans returned to gather the rest of the inhabitants. She hid and travelled with a group through a sewer to get outside of the camp. After liberation, Norma returned home to find someone living in her former house who had ‘purchased’ all her family’s possessions. She could no longer be there as her family had perished. She met her husband and they both went to an Austrian DP where conditions were poor with a lack of food, and a prevalence of disease. They moved to Canada on October, 8th, 1948. She currently resides in Florida. 

Norma Dimitry

They took them all away. In the evening we looked at each other. Who is left?