I was born in Poland, one of eight children. The Germans invaded my town in the fall of 1941 where my father owned a fabric store for men's clothing. There was so much chaos and confusion that went with rounding up the Jews – the hangings that were part of the SS occupation. I was chased and beaten by an SS commander and was attacked by his dog. I hid with my family for several days, until we were forced to move to a ghetto where I worked in a fish hatchery.
After being separated from my family, I was sent to a labor camp with my mother and three sisters. Life there was horrible with shootings every day. It was extremely cold, and we were made to stand to endure endless head counts.
Three days after Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, as the Russians were moving closer to liberating the camp, the Germans transported the remaining Jews to Auschwitz to die. For a brief moment, the Germans turned away, and I pulled my mother out of the death line. My mother survived. But soon we were sent to another work camp.
Just before liberation, the Germans tried to kill everyone, but prisoners stayed hidden. The Germans were forced to run away. I returned to Poland with my mother and sisters and then moved to Germany, but it was still unsafe for Jews, even after liberation.
While in Germany, I saw the female SS guard who had badly beaten and arrested me.
I later moved to New York City where I met and married my husband. Together we live in Rochester where we raised our three children.
Biography from the
Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Project, Monroe Community College
Photograph by Louis Ouzer