Zelda Leikach was born in Holoby, Poland, the youngest and sole survivor of 7 children. She married Motel Kuris (Max Leikach) in 1939. When their daughter was 13 weeks old, the family fled to the forests, where Zelda eventually gave in to Motel’s pleas to save Masha by placing her secretly with a note saying she was the child of an unwed Polish woman. She and Motel survived in the forests for 2-1/2 years. Allowed by the Ukrainian couple raising Masha as their own to visit the dying child, Zelda made a plan to run to a Soviet Army hospital for help. Later, she was asked to keep Masha temporarily but refused to return her despite gratitude to the couple. For 4-1/2 years in displaced persons camps in Italy, Zelda nursed Masha back to health.