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Veterans History Project visits Tietz nursing center

Liza Pollastik sat calmly in her chair, her feet dangling just above the floor, waiting for the people gathered around the table to assemble an interview kit of pen and paper to record her story.

Eyeing the glazed Danish in front of her, the tiny white-haired woman was clutching her scarf as she began to talk about World War II and the experience of surviving the Holocaust.

“Every night when I go to bed, I ask God why me,” she said of having lost six of seven siblings to the Holocaust. “It was very hard.”

Pollastik and the other people at the Margaret Center for Nursing Care in Jamaica were telling their stories to volunteers with the Veterans History Project, a campaign organized by the Library of Congress to record and compile the histories of war veterans and the people who supported them.

The program, created by Congress in October 2000, is sponsored by the American Association of Retired Peoples, which gave the three-year project a $3 million grant, an AARP spokeswoman said. The New York chapters of AARP took their national day of service last Thursday to participate in the project.

Along with Pollastik were veterans from the Korean War, veterans’ relatives, including wives, and Chinese and Russian veterans who fought in World War II but have since immigrated to the United States.

Jesse Kalick, a Brooklyn native, went into the Armed Forces Services Division after military authorities discovered he had high blood pressure during basic training. Kalick, then 22, was assigned to Camp Landing in Florida, where he guarded German prisoners of war.

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