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Vladka Meed, born Fiegele PeltelMiedzyrzecki, was seventeen years old when the Germans conquered Poland. In 1940 she immediately became a member at the Jewish resistance and joined the underground that was formed in the Warsaw ghetto. In July of 1942, she watched powerlessly as her mother and young brother were selected for transport to Treblinka and death. Still, she managed to survive.

In December that year she covertly crossed into the Ayran Warsaw and took on her new identity of Vladka. In Ayran she served with bravery in carrying out underground assignments.

On the Ayran side Vladka expected that the Gentiles, non Jews, would be haunted by what they saw on the opposite side of the wall from them. It was only natural that the Poles would show some human compassion towards their old neighbors and a desire to help. She found out that this was not the case though. After one incident, in which the ghetto victim of the Germans occurred close but on the other side of the wall, Vladka looked around to see what the Gentiles reactions were. The Gentiles seemed to look around to see if any danger was done to themselves. After none was discovered, order was continued. Vladka noticed that the Gentiles were not proud of what they had witnessed, but yet they remained silent. Why?

It was not easy to keep up the role of a Gentile all the time. She had no difficulty recognizing Jews. They became aware of Jews trying to escape the ghetto and lost no time turning this into a profitable profession, blackmail. Without the Polish informers, the Germans would never have caught so many Jews. Vladka had her first taste at blackmail during her first weeks of her activity in the Ayran section. She was with Michal, a guy friend of hers, on a task of transporting files to a German factory at Chmielna 2.

Unable to deliver the files they left the factory discussing possible alternative ways to smuggle files into the ghetto. Suddenly, they were aware of footsteps behind them. They discovered three Gentiles following them and not likely to let them go. Without blackmail money they tried to outrun the blackmailers. Michal successfully jumped a train and rode off. Vladka kept running but soon was caught. After they demanded money which she didnít have, Vladka tried to pretend she was not a Jew. To her surprise it actually worked until she was able to get away from them and run.

That time she had succeeded in eluding the blackmailers, but a great number of Jews were not so fortunate. While the blackmailers did not kill the Jews outright, as Germans did, they deprived the Jews of their last possessions. Thus driving their victims to utter despair and ultimately end.

By Molly "The Donkey" Sparkman