Pola was born to a Jewish family in a small town in Poland about three miles from the German border. Her family had lived there for generations. Pola’s father exported geese and other goods to Germany; her mother owned a fabric store.
1933–39: In 1937 Pola began secondary school in the town of Suwalki. She excelled in math, and hoped to study engineering and oil exploration at the university.
When World War II began in September 1939, Pola and her father went to a town about 40 miles away to hide some of Pola’s mother’s valuable fabrics. Then the Nussbaums escaped east towards the Soviet border.
1940–42: By 1941 the family was in the Slonim ghetto. Pola’s mother slipped her daughters Pola and Lisa out to a Christian friend in town who refused to hide them and sent the girls to the forest. There they came across Jews being shot into pits. Found by a forester, they were marched to the line of those waiting to be killed but managed to flee.
The forester shot at them but missed. Then he threw his axe and hit Pola’s leg. The sisters ran to town where a Christian woman hid them in a sofa-bed until the massacre ended.
On June 29, 1942, Pola was shot to death while attempting to escape under the ghetto fence. She was 19.