Felicja Karay

1927 (Kraków) - 2014 (Israel)


"Here I’m incognito, because that’s not important to me. Those aren’t memories, they’re research work."

Felicja Karay was born as Fela Schächter in Kraków on 26 January 1927. After the German invasion ‒ now a schoolgirl ‒ she fled through Eastern Poland without finding shelter, so she returned to Kraków and smuggled herself into the ghetto in November 1942.

In March 1943, Schächter was deported to Płaszów Concentration Camp, then to Skarżysko-Kamienna Jewish labour camp, Factory C, and in July 1944 from there to the Hugo Schneider AG (HASAG), a Buchenwald subcamp. The camp was liberated by Red Army soldiers in April 1945.

After her return to Kraków and Łódź, Schächter became involved in organizing cultural events in the left-wing Hashamar Hazair Zionist movement and prepared for her emigration to Palestine. She earned her higher school certificate and took lessons in dramaturgy and voice. In 1950 she emigrated to Israel. Following her studies at Tel Aviv University she became a grammar school history teacher at Rishon Leziyon kibbutz, married and had two children.

In the early 1980s, Felicja Karay began carrying out archive research on the history of the Skarżysko-Kamienna Jewish labour camp during school holidays. In 1987 she gained her doctorate with this study, which in 1996 was published in English as Death Comes in Yellow: Skarzysko-Kamienna Slave Labor Camp. At the Diaspora Research Institute in Tel Aviv, Karay researches culture and the special situation of women in labour and concentration camps and gives seminars in Yad Vashem and for the Israeli ministry of education. Felicja Karay lived in Rishon Leziyon kibbutz.