Bronislawa 'Bronka' Taler, a Holocaust survivor who later became an Annapolis patron of the arts

Bronislawa “Bronka” Taler,a Holocaust survivor who eluded the Nazis for several years as a teen in Europe during World War II and later settled in Annapolis, where she became a patron of the arts, died July 15 of congestive heart failure at her Pendennis Mount home in Anne Arundel County.

She was 93.

The daughter of Leopold Frenkiel, a wealthy cigarette distributor, and Gustava Frenkiel, a homemaker, Bronislawa Frenkiel, who was known as “Bronka,” was born and raised in Krakow, Poland, where she attended Roman Catholic parochial schools.

Because of her family’s prosperity, relatives said, she was surrounded by books, paintings and music as a child, but that all changed when the Germans invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939.

The 15-year-old arrived home one day with her two best friends from school, two sisters, to find her home empty, and her parents and elder brother, Mark Frenkiel, gone.

The German army had rounded up all of the Jewish families, and a neighbor advised the girls to immediately flee Krakow.

After filling a satchel with some clothes and family photographs, she and her two friends began an odyssey that would take them from Poland to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania, where they worked at odd jobs, family members said.

At one point, they found themselves on a Nazi transport bound for Auschwitz, but during a pause in the journey, a sympathetic German soldier told them to “Go,” reported The Capital newspaper in Annapolis in a 2004 article.

While on the run, they were eventually able to obtain forged papers from the Polish Christian underground that allowed them to live as Christians.

When the war ended, she returned to Krakow to search for her family. She eventually located her brother, who had survived Auschwitz.

“He survived because he was a mechanic and took care of the Nazis’ cars,” said her daughter, Gustava E. “Gusty” Taler of Guilford in North Baltimore, a lawyer who is chief operating officer for Maryland Legal Aid.

“Her parents were never found, and she never found out definitively what happened to them. If she did know, she did not share it,” Ms. Taler said.

“When it came to the Holocaust, she was very shy in talking about it. She didn’t want to talk about it, as it had affected her greatly,” her daughter said. “She would give snippets, but never said, ‘Sit down, let me tell you the story of my life.’ ”

When a Capital reporter asked her in 2004 about her family who perished in the Nazi death camps, “her gaze became distant and her voice grew faint,” the reporter wrote.

Mrs. Taler raised her fingers and began to count. “1 … 2 … 3 ... 10 … 11 … 12 … There were definitely 20, probably more. … I don’t want to talk about it.”

Abraham Taler, a lawyer and pharmacist in Krakow who was helping her and her brother, invited them to a New Year’s Eve party in December 1945, where she met his son, Joseph Taler, a young medical student who was studying at the University of Marburg in Germany.

Dr. Taler said in the 2004 article that he was immediately taken with her beauty and that she “looked like Ingrid Bergman.”

To be near him, she moved to Marburg, where she studied to become a dental technician. They were married in 1948.

Dr. Taler had 57 family members who were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, while he and his parents managed to survive. He hid his father in a shack in Rzeszow, Poland, for several years, while his mother lived in a nearby town under an assumed name.

In 1951, the Talers emigrated to America, arriving in New York aboard the Army transport USS General M.B. Stewart.

. Helped by the Hebrew Immigration Society, they moved to Baltimore, where they settled in a home near Patterson Park. They later moved to Harundale in Glen Burnie.

Her husband established a medical practice in 1952 above Gitomer’s Pharmacy in Glen Burnie. He later moved it to the old North Arundel Hospital —- now the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center — .where Mrs. Taler worked as a laboratory technician from 1968 to 1988.

Dr. Taler, who retired in 1992 and died in 2012, wrote two memoirs — “In Search of Heroes,” about life in the Jewish ghetto in Lvov, Poland, and “Polish Indians and Short Stories.” He also lectured widely on the Holocaust, including at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Mrs. Taler participated in the Shoah Project, established by filmmaker Steven Spielberg to chronicle and preserve the experiences of Holocaust survivors.

In 1967, the couple built a home at Pendennis Mount that had views of the Severn River and Annapolis.

Mrs. Taler was active in the cultural life of Annapolis and was a patron of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and Annapolis Opera. She also was a supporter of the Brandeis University Book Club.

She enjoyed reading, playing bridge, cooking and entertaining family and friends.

“She enjoyed preparing Polish dishes,” her daughter said.

She and her husband enjoyed traveling. They returned to Poland only once, but they particularly enjoyed Italy, visiting there 13 times.

She and her husband were founding members of Temple Beth Shalom in Arnold, where her funeral was held Tuesday.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a son, Dr. George E. Taler of Severna Park; two grandsons; and three great-grandchildren.

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fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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