October 2, 1927 - November 20, 2018
Ala T. (Torenheim) Danziger of Dallas, Texas passed away on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at the age of 91.
We Mourn The Loss of Ala Danziger, mother of RoseAnn Danziger (David Jackson), J.B. Danziger (Judi) Danziger, and David Danziger; grandmother of Jayson Danziger and the late Jessica Danziger, great-grandmother of Cohen Danziger, aunt of Joe (Sharon) Dancygier and Helen (Barry) Baylis; great-aunt of Allison, Lindsey, Yakov and Malka. Amelia Ernst (caregiver).
Ala Torenheim Danziger was born October 2, 1927 in Bendzin, Poland to Berish and Hinda Silberstein Torenheim. Her father was a descendant of a known Hassidic rabbi, Rabbi Berish Torenheim of Piotrkow, Volbrosh, and owned a Lodz factory that made fine Damask tablecloths. Sometime in 1943 Ala’s parents were deported to Auschwitz.
Ala was the youngest of eight children. Her brother Mojsio was the second oldest. He was killed by the Germans while attempting an escape for a deportation train. Of her other siblings, Ruzia (oldest), Hanka (fourth), and Helusia (seventh) died in Auschwitz, Zosia (sixth) died in Bergen Belson and Genia (third) and Tema (fifth) survived.
At ten years old, Ala was captured in the street after curfew and taken in a cattle car to the Hansdorf camp for two years. She eventually escaped from a rail car transporting sick people, jumping from her hiding place when the guards went to a restaurant, She was found by a Polish farmer and his wife, Mr. & Mrs. Jaworski, who washed her and put her in the barn. After a couple of weeks they helped her get home to Lodz. Ala was home only two and half days when she left to find her sister, Tema, who had been found in hiding and taken to Sosnowiec, a transit camp. Eventually, Ala found her and arranged to get Tema home to her parents. Ala took Tema’s place and stayed in the camp, until she was transported to another work camp.
Ala cheated death several times. At Parschnitz, the Nazi guards planned for the seventy-five women working on train tracks to be hit by a train. Ala was one of only two who survived, although her knees, legs and ribs were broken. Luckily, Ala’s sister’s sister-in-law, Luc’i was the one who came to collect the bodies, found her and smuggled her back to camp. At Noezalt, the Nazis were counting to ten as the prisoners marched by, sending the tenth to the gas chambers. For an unknown reason, an SS officer let her go free. Another time, the Nazis offered the prisoners fresh bread. Ala, slowed by her broken legs, was far behind the others; as she got closer, she heard screams. The bread was poisoned and those who ate it were dying.
When the war was over, she was liberated by the Russians in Parschnitz, weighing only fifty-four pounds. She had lost over 300 relatives in the war and stayed in a hospital in Germany for eight months. Ala lived with her sister Genia in Stuttgart for a while, prior to meeting and marrying her future husband, Rubin Danziger, in 1947. They lived in Garmisch Partinkirchen where Rubin had a factory and fur salon. He opened another one in Munich. In Garmisch, they helped many other refugees recover and find jobs, including Ala’s sister, Tema, who came from Sweden to live with them.
Ala’s sister, Genia, left first for the United States and sent the necessary affidavits for Ala and Rubin, who arrived in Dallas in 1949 with their six month old son. Dr. Sam Stern helped Rubin find a job at Neiman Marcus, where he was a fur designer for eleven years. Ala worked briefly in a factory to help support the family. Rubin later joined Sam Szor and Paul Diener in the fur business and eventually, Rubin and Ala bought their own fur strore. Tragically, Rubin was killed there during a robbery in 1980.
Ala and Rubin had three children. Joseph, born in 1948, is now in business in Houston, where he lives with his wife and two children. Rose Ann, born in 1955, lives in Dallas. David, born in 1957, is also in business in Houston.
When the Holocaust Center began, Ala shared her story many times by participating as a speaker. She has served on the Board of Directors and Executive committee for many years and was crowned Queen Esther at one of the Center’s Purim Balls. A past president of Na’amat USA, she also has been very involved in the City of Hope, B’nai B’rith, Hadassah and the Zionist Organization of America, which honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Ala is active in Congregation Shearith Israel, cooking for those who need help and providing transportation for those who need rides to the hospital.
Quotes: “We loved America. Life in the US was wonderful because we had freedom. I became a citizen and I was very proud of that. Nothing was easy. I couldn’t even speak English. We obeyed the laws. We never will forget and hope and pray it never happens again. When you don’t know the language and you have a child, it’s hard. I never asked for help from the Federation. We did the best we knew how. We had pride. It would be more wonderful if this tragedy hadn’t happened to my husband and the father of my children. We loved him very much. He survived the war and was murdered in Dallas. God bless everyone.”
A private burial will be held on Friday November 23, at 1:30 pm, graveside at Shearith Israel Memorial Park on Dolphin Rd.
The Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, November 25 at 11:am in the Aaron Family Main Sanctuary, immediately followed by a reception at Shearith Israel.
A Shiva Minyan will be held on Sunday November 25 at 5 pm. at the family home, 7322 Inglecliff Dr., Dallas, 75230.
Donations can be made to Dallas Holocaust Museum.
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