Zofia Zajd (now Sophie Berkowitz) is the daughter of
Chaim Dawid and Doba Zajd. She was born March 3, 1920, in Dzialoszyce, Poland,
where her father owned a shoe store. Zofia had four siblings: Mietek,
Regina, Rozia and Fela. In 1923, her family moved to Lodz,
where they lived through the first six months of World War II.
In March 1940 Zofia moved to Czestochowa to be
with her fiance, Jakub Icik Berkowicz. The couple married in the ghetto
one month later on April 7, 1940. Zofia was put to work in the Hasag
labor camp in Czestochowa, where she remained until the end of the war.
Zofia and her brother, Mietek, were the only
survivors of their immediate family. After the war Zofia and Jakub went
to find their niece Celina Berkowitz, the daughter of Jakub's brother
Sigmund and his wife Cutka.
Shortly before their death in the spring of 1943,
Celina's parents placed her in hiding with a Polish Christian by the
name of Genowefa Starczewska-Korczak. Genowefa took care of Celina,
along with her own two daughters, until her husband was executed by the
Germans. Afterwards she was forced to place the three girls in an
orphanage in Czestochowa. Genowefa kept in close contact with the
children, however, and brought them home every weekend. Celina became
very attached to Genowefa, whom she affectionately called Aunt Genia,
and was reluctant to leave the Starczewska-Korczak household when Zofia
and Jakub found her after the war. Eventually, however, Celina agreed
to go with her aunt and uncle, who then formally adopted her. The three
made their way to Austria,
where they lived in the Bad Gastein displaced persons camp and in Vienna,
before immigrating to the United States in 1948.
The Berkowitz family kept in touch with Genowefa
after the war and were instrumental in gaining her recognition by Yad
Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations in 1986.