Paula’s life before the war
Paula’s father, Wolf Koladicki, owns a shop, an occupation that brings him into contact with people throughout the region. Her mother, Sarah Koladicki, is a pharmacist who studied at the University of Vilna. The family lives on the outskirts of Novogrudek, a small city near the eastern border of Poland [now Belarus], between Minsk and Bialystock. The land around Novogrudek (also called Novogrudok, Navahrudak, Nowogrodek, Naugardukas) has been alternately claimed by Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Belarus. Home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the region, Novogrudek’s Jewish population of c. 6500 makes up about half of the city’s total inhabitants. Paula’s family celebrates Jewish holidays and observes the Sabbath, like most of the other families she knows.
The Koladickis live comfortably but are not rich. Paula is close to her parents and her maternal grandmother, Faygie Ginienski, with whom she shares a room. She often plays with the other kids in her neighborhood, especially her cousins, who live next door. In 1939, Paula’s younger brother, Isaac, is born.
Paula Burger: He [Paula’s father] – I guess you would call it sort of like commodities, I remember the stories he would tell us, about going and buying like a forest for its trees, or for the wood, or buying futures in an apple orchard, and he would bring back apples in the winter, because we – at the time, in my home, there was no refrigeration – so he would bring apples and freeze them in the winter, and tell us that these came from this orchard and this from that orchard, and telling us different stories about the trees, they would chop down one tree to find out the type of wood, and then basically they would buy it on the knowledge of futures – what kind of wood it would be or what kind of apple crop it would be. Later, I remember he had a store that had food products in it, and I remember – that must have been closer to the war already – because I remember them bringing a lot of candy.
“I remember he had a store that had food products in it, and I remember–that must have been closer to the war already–because I remember them bringing a lot of candy.”
USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, Interview 10913