Herman and Sara Kutner





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was born in Bendzin, Poland, a town located on the German border.
There were five children in my family. At the end of the war, my brother and I were the only family members who survived.

Bendzin was invaded on the first day of the war when I was thirteen. I was transported to Jeleneshia labor camp along with all the other boys in the town. I learned quickly to do whatever I was told; however, even instant obedience was not enough to protect me from losing my teeth to a Nazi boot or to save me from the violence to which we were subjected. It was a life of slavery; the misery was so pervasive I lost my ability to think.

Jeleneshia was the first of many labor camps I was sent to. I was moved so often that after a while, I did not know where I was. It wasn't until years later that I was able to reconstruct my journey. The labor camps I was taken to included Zabush, Lassk, Pazameche, Anaberg and Grozraen. While in Pazameche, I worked as a mason on a house that was eventually used by both Hitler and Mengele.

During what was to become my last transport, afraid that I was being taken to the gas chamber, I jumped off the train. I slipped safely through the German lines with the help of a woman I met while working in the fields.

When I finally made it to the American forces, they interrogated me thinking I was German. Afterwards, I was taken to a hospital and when released, sent to a displaced persons camp. There I met my wife to whom I have been married for over 50 years.

We lived in Israel until 1953 when we were able to come to America. I found work in Rochester at Kodak. I have a difficult time whenever I tell my story; reliving the profoundly disturbing and painful memories always leads to nightmares for many days afterwards. Yet I am willing to relive the memories for others in the past and the future so it doesn't happen again.

Biography from the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Project, Monroe Community College
Photographs by Louis Ouzer