When the Nazis ordered the Jews to the ghetto, the willful Esther Stermer told her family: “We will not go.” She was right. From her private memoir We Fight to Survive:

“The killings reached our town of Korolowka the fall 1942, and grew systemic as the town was declared Judenfrei – free of Jews. The Gestapo circled the town and forced Jews onto trucks headed for the concentration camps, then for the next few weeks forced remaining Jews to dig their own graves before killing them.” Esther remembers the “horror of victims, still alive, sticking their heads up through the soil gasping for air.” She knew her family had to find somewhere safe to hide.

“We knew that we had a better chance of survival sticking together. We knew that our family would always be loyal to one another. Even when things were at their worst, you could always look around and see your sister, your mother, and the rest of your family. It helped us to remember what we were fighting for.”

- Survivor Sima (Dodyk) Blitzer, Esther’s granddaughter