Ann Blum was the youngest of four children born in Chrzanów, Poland to Simon and Gitel Wachsberg. As the only girl she enjoyed the attentions of her adoring parents and her protective older brothers. “Before I left the house, I had to turn around three times so my mother and father could see if I looked just perfect, dressed perfect,” she recalled. “And my brothers used to always take care of me.”
Ann’s idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end in September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Ann’s brothers David (b. Leibek) and Sol (b. Shlomek) were drafted into slave labor and the rest of the family was confined to the Jewish ghetto in Chrzanów. Her father and her brother Charles (b. Chaimek) worked as painters, while Ann and her mother toiled in a sewing factory. When one of the two fell ill the other took her shift because they knew that if the Germans learned they were unable to work they would be killed.
Ann recalled the day in February 1943, when the Germans began to liquidate the Chrzanów ghetto. First, they came for her father and her brother Charles. “My father kept saying, ‘This is my little girl, I can’t leave her, I can’t leave her.’ He was holding on so hard. Then they just tore him away, hit him on the head, my father, and there I was by myself.” Ann was arrested soon after and, together with her cousin, was sent to a labor camp at Kletendorf. Every day, they marched in the freezing cold to a nearby ammunition factory, where they worked 12-hour shifts without food. If they did not march fast enough on the return journey, their captors beat them. Brutalized and starving, Ann and her cousin talked about their “ultimate dream”: a whole sandwich with two slices of bread and an entire potato. The cousins were finally liberated at Görlitz, a camp about 80 miles east of Dresden.
After the war, Ann, Sol and David were reunited in Chrzanów. Together, they went to Marktredwitz, Germany, where they discovered that their brother, Charles, had also survived, and Ann met her future husband, Morris Blum. On October 31, 1949, the siblings came to America. They settled in Pittsburgh. One day Morris Blum showed up at their door unannounced and asked Ann to marry him. Together they moved to Houston and then to Beaumont, where they raised three children and went into the retail furniture business. Ann and Morris returned to Houston in 1972 to be part of a larger Jewish community. Ann was an active volunteer.
Simon Wachsberg, d. Auschwitz, 1943
Gitel Lieberman Wachsberg, d. Auschwitz, 1943
Charles, (b. Chaimek), survived
David (b. Leibek), survived
Sol (b. Shlomek), survived