Sabina Krautwirt

Sabina was born shortly before the outbreak of World War I in Krakow, one of Poland's oldest cities and a lively cultural hub. It was also home to some of the oldest surviving synagogues in Europe and known for its long Jewish heritage.

She grew up with her parents, David and Anna Abrahamer, and her younger siblings Jakub and Irena. They were among the nearly 70,000 Jews living in the old town of Krakow. The family owned a bakery, where their father David worked as a master baker, and both Sabina and Jakub appear to have helped in the bakery. The Krautwirt family lived in the heart of the city, near the large Rakowicki cemetery, just north of Krakow's historical centre.

Sabina was 25 years old when German troops marched into Krakow on September 6, 1939, barely a week after the German forces invaded Poland. They wanted to establish Krakow as the seat of the German occupation and rid the city of its Jewish population. The city's Jews began to be persecuted and were discriminated against. They were forced to wear white armbands with blue Stars of David and many were subjected to forced labour. All Jews in the city were registered and had to declare their possessions as well. Synagogues were closed again and Jews were forbidden to enter certain places and use some modes of public transport.

Stadsbild Krakow 1930
Krakow 1930. Sabina grew up in Krakow with her family who ran a bakery. Photo: Creative Commons

In the spring of 1940, just over six months after the German invasion, the Germans began displacing large numbers of Krakow's Jews to the east, in the countryside and area close to the Polish city of Lublin. Initially, Jews were offered the chance to keep their property if they moved voluntarily, but it wasn't long before they were forcibly relocated. In total, over 50,000 Jews were expelled from Krakow. Most of them were later murdered during the Holocaust, many in the Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka extermination camps.

Only 15,000 Jews remained in Krakow, those which the Germans considered 'economically useful', including Sabina and her family. Just a few months later, in March 1941, the remaining Jews were forced into the ghetto the Germans had established in the city. The chosen area was the run-down Podgórze neighbourhood, across the Vistula River from Krakow's Old Town. The traditional Jewish quarter of Kazimierz, where Jews had lived since the 14th century, would instead become part of the new aryanized city the Germans wanted to establish.

When the Krakow Ghetto was established, Sabina had recently married a man named Mojesz Krautwirt. It is not entirely clear whether Mojesz and his parents were already living in the ghetto area or whether they had been forced to move there. Sabina moved into the ghetto with her family and it is certain that they were forced to move there. Each person was only allowed to take 25 kg of belongings with them, while the remaining assets the Jews left behind were confiscated by the Germans. There were now 15,000 people living in the small Podgórze neighbourhood, where previously no more than 3,500 people had lived. From time to time, more Jews arrived in the ghetto after being deported there.

Initially, the ghetto was not closed and some Jews were allowed to work outside but in October 1941 the ghetto was sealed off. Jews who left the ghetto without authorisation were punished by death. Previously, everyday life in the ghetto had continued, largely because many Jews were allowed to work outside the ghetto and able to buy food and supplies for their families. But without access to sufficient food and enormous overcrowding, the misery and suffering in the ghetto became severe. Many Jews were subjected to slave labour in the Płaszów concentration and labour camp, which the Germans established south of the ghetto.

Personer går längs väg i Krakows getto
Photo: Creative Commons

Forced transfer to the Krakow Ghetto, March 1941 

In 1941, the ghetto was sealed off and Jews who left without authorisation were punished by death. 

Dokument med namnet Sabina Krautwirt
Photo: Arolsen Archives

Displaced Person Registration Record

Sabina's registration card drawn up by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) immediately after the end of the war, in the summer of 1945.

After moving to the ghetto, traces of Sabina and her family begin to disappear. In the spring and summer of 1942, the Germans officially began moving people from the ghetto down to the Płaszów camp, while in reality thousands were deported to the Bełżec extermination camp where they were immediately murdered. During the summer and autumn of that year, nearly 15,000 Jews from the Krakow Ghetto were murdered. It seems that most members of the Abrahamer and Krautwirt families were among those murdered. The ghetto’s lists of “employable people” include Sabina's brother and husband, but neither her or Mojesz’s parents nor her sister Irene. After the war, Sabina stated that her parents were dead. Her brother Jakub appears to have moved in with Sabina and her husband Mojesz, but shortly thereafter the traces of Mojesz cease. At the end of the war, Sabina states that she is a widow.

Sabina and her younger brother Jakub remained alone in the harsh ghetto until it was evacuated in March 1943. Almost 2,000 Jews were shot in the process while the remaining 2,000, including the Abrahamer siblings, were transferred to the Płaszów concentration camp. There the Jews were subjected to hard slave labour, particularly in factories. After one and a half years together in the camp, Jakub was transferred to the Flossenbürg concentration camp in Bavaria on October 16, 1944. He and other prisoners were forced to work in quarries, where conditions were worse than many other labour camps and duties were extremely physically demanding. Prisoners in the camp suffered from a lack of clean water, poor hygiene and were poorly dressed for the cold weather. On the March 3, 1945, Jakub was murdered in the Flossenbürg concentration camp and cremated there. He was 27 years old.

Sabina seems to have survived in Płaszów until January 1945, despite daily shootings, deportations and horrendous conditions. Most prisoners in the camp had already been murdered or, like Jakub, deported by this time, but Sabina appears to have been one of over 600 prisoners remaining in the camp. The Soviet forces were now closing in, and Sabina and the others were forced to leave and walk to Auschwitz on foot in the bitter cold, a distance of almost 50 kilometers.

From Auschwitz, Sabina seems to have been transported further west, ending up in Bergen-Belsen, where other tens of thousands of Jews were also moved as the Allied forces came closer. Like Sabina, many of the prisoners had been forced on death marches in the harsh January and February weather before arriving in Bergen-Belsen if they survived. In the overcrowded and disorganised camp, diseases such as dysentery, diphtheria, typhus and tuberculosis spread. The sicknesses killed thousands and Sabina became severely ill with fever, diarrhea and typhus.

Liberation and time in Sweden 

On the April 15, 1945, Bergen-Belsen was liberated by British forces. At that time, there were over 60,000 prisoners in the camp, mostly Jews and the majority in a terrible state of starvation and disease. Thousands of dead prisoners were lying unburied in the camp. Sabina and other survivors were moved out of the camp and received medical care. Meanwhile, Allied forces tried to register all survivors. On her registration card, she states that her parents and husband are dead and her closest relative is an aunt or uncle in Bolivia.

Sabina was one of over 9,000 survivors brought to Sweden for treatment by UNRRA transportation. After a period in the transit camp and the Swedish field hospital in Lübeck, a seriously ill Sabina was taken to Sweden on the S/S Kastelholm on July 11, 1945. The Kastelholm docked in Stockholm after a four-day voyage. Sabina was in such poor health that she was immediately sent to the Epidemic Hospital in Roslagstull, just a few kilometres from Frihamnen where the boat had arrived. Doctors at the hospital tried desperately to save her life, but on August 5, at 2:25pm she died of her severe injuries at the age of 32.

It seems that Sabina was the only member of her family who was alive during the liberation. In her and her family's case, there is no survivor who registered any family members. Traces of the existence of Sabina and the Abrahamer and Krautwirt families are the few documents that exist in the archives.

Sabina's route

The map shows the places Sabina was forcibly transferred or travelled to, from Krakow where she was born to the Northern Jewish Cemetery. Click on the information symbol to see all the locations, listed in chronological order.

About Sabina Krautwirt

Sabina Krautwirt

First name: Sabina
Last name: Krautwirt, born Abrahamer
Born: 13 november 1913, i Krakow, Polen
Died: In 5 augusti 1945, 31 years old, in Epidemisjukhuset in Roslagstull, Stockholm
Buried: At Northern Jewish Cemitary, N K 18 3317
Recidence befor the war: Limanowskiegogatan 42, Krakow, Poland
Recidence after the war: Tarnowerstrasse 42, Krakows ghetto, Poland
Arrived in Sweden: On S/S Kastelholm which departed from Lübeck on 11 July 1945 and arrived in Stockholm on 15 July 1945
Occupation: Clerk

Sabina Krautwirts gravsten, intill gravstenen syns gräs
Sabina Krautwirt’s tombstone at the Northern Jewish Cemetery in Stockholm. Photo: Miranda Solvang, Swedish Holocaust Museum/SHM.

About Sabina's husband Mojesz Krautwirt

Mojesz Krautwirt

First name: Mojesz, also spelled Mozes
Last name: Krautwirt
Born: Unknown
Died: Probably between 1942-1944, possibly in Krakow's ghetto
Recidence before the war: Limanowskiegogatan 42, Krakow, Polen
Recidence during the war: Tarnowerstrasse 42, Krakows getto, Polen
Perents: Emil and Rywka, born Haber
Occupation: Cunstruction worker

About Sabina's father David Abrahamer

David Abrahamer

First name: David
Last name: Abrahamer
Born: 15 May 1885, in Krakow, Poland
Died: Probably in Bełżec extermination camp, in the summer or spring of 1942, 57 years old.
Reidence befor the war: Aleja 29 Listopada 37, Krakow, Poland
Recidence during the war: Krakow's ghetto
Occupation: Baker

About Sabina's mother Anna Abrahamer

Anna Abrahamer

First name: Anna, also called Hencze
Last name: Abrahamer, born Seelenfreund
Born: 15 August 1883, in Myślenice, Poland
Died: Probably in Bełżec extermination camp, in the summer or fall of 1942, 59 years old
Recidence befor the war: Aleja 29 Listopada 37, Krakow, Poland
Recidence during the war: Krakow's ghetto
Occupation: Housekeeper

About Sabina's brother Jakub Abrahamer

Jakub Abrahamer

First name: Jakub, also spelled Jakob
Last name: Abrahamer
Born: 4 February 1918, also occurs in 4 November 1918, in Krakow, Poland
Died: 3 March 1945, in Flossenbürgs concentration camp, 27 years old
Recidence befor the war: Aleja 29 Listopada 37, Krakow, Poland
Recidence during the war: Krakow's ghetto
Occupation: Baker and strip cutter

About Sabina's sister Irena Abrahamer

Irena Abrahamer

First name: Irena
Last name: Abrahamer
Born: 25 November 1925, in Krakow, Poland
Died: Probably in Bełżec extermination camp, in the summer or fall of 1942, 17 years old
Recidence befor the war: Aleja 29 Listopada 37, Krakow, Poland
Recidence during the war: Krakow's ghetto
Occupation: Student and later tailor's assistant

Learn more about the fates of other

Here you will find links to the "Förlorade röster" [Lost Voices] collection page as well as links to all the personal texts, listed by surname.

Reference list

To reconstruct Sabina's life story, source material has been collected from various archives in Sweden, Germany, the USA and Israel.

The Swedish National Archives contain the archives of the Royal Medical Board, where the files on “1945 refugee healthcare” are preserved, containing information about her time in Sweden. The National Archives also houses the archives of the Aliens Commission, which often has a personal file for survivors who survive their first year in Sweden.

The German Arolsen Archive preserves the Allied registration of survivors after the end of the war, known as the “Displaced Person Registration Record”. The Arolsen Archive also preserves documentation from many concentration camps, such as Dachau, Buchenwald and Ravensbrück.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has preserved and digitised the lists of all Holocaust survivors and, in particular, preserves the lists compiled at Bergen-Belsen and later by UNRRA. The USHMM has also digitised much of the material from the Lodz ghetto, including school records and, in particular, the ghetto's civil registration records. Finally, the Israeli Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem has “Pages of Testimony”, forms, where survivors could register their murdered relatives. In many cases, surviving relatives believed that those who came to Sweden in 1945 were murdered in the Holocaust, and many of the “1945 rescued” group are thus incorrectly registered. The testimonies of the relatives are the most important source for reconstructing the names of those who were murdered.

The historical facts about World War II and the Holocaust are taken from Yehuda Bauer's "A History of the Holocaust" (2001) and Saul Friedländer's work "The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939-1945" (2007).

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The Northern Jewish Cemetery

The survivors who died shortly after arriving in Stockholm were buried at the Northern Jewsish Cemetary in Stockholm, side by side with the Swedish Jewish community.