Herman Mand was born Herman Mondrowicz on September 23, 1920, in Lodz, Poland, to Moshe and Leah Mondrowicz. He was one of ten children; there were two sisters and eight brothers. The family was strictly Orthodox and affluent. They owned a shoe factory in Lodz.
Herman was one of only three siblings in his family to survive the Holocaust. He lived in the woods as part of the underground. Near the end of the war, however, he was captured by the Germans who imprisoned him in a dirt cave. After being stripped naked and having his gold dental work pulled from his mouth, he was sent to Auschwitz. Shortly thereafter, he was liberated.
Herman returned to Lodz, seeking to retrieve the jewelry that his family had hidden in the walls of their home, but when shot at, he left the apartment without the jewelry. He later took a train to reach a DP camp in Germany. He helped squeeze a rather large woman onto the train through the narrow door openings. He met Bronya (Barbara) Szpilman in the Marktredwitz, Bavaria, DP camp, and they were married on March 24, 1946, in a double ceremony with Barbara’s sister Anna and her husband Jacob.
Herman’s older brother Yitzhak had become an Orthodox rabbi and had immigrated to Palestine. (Yitzhak’s wife and family perished in the Holocaust). One of Herman’s other brothers came with him to New York in 1947, but, tragically was run over and killed by a truck on his first day in New York.
In December, 1947, Herman and Barbara, now pregnant with their daughter Laurie, traveled to New York on the SS Ernie Pyle with Herman’s brother. Herman worked as a cake decorator in New York with Charlie Gross. In 1953 Charlie bought the New York Bakery on Joseph Avenue in Rochester, NY and hired Herman to join him in Rochester to work in the bakery. Herman and Barbara, now with three young children, Laurie, born in 1948, Muriel (Miki) born in 1949, and David, born in 1952, all moved to Rochester.
Both Herman and Barbara worked in the New York Bakery until it was sold in 1967. Wanting to go into business for themselves, they bought Bodner’s Bakery on Joseph Avenue. Barbara, who had learned about being a businesswoman from her mother, managed the bakery; Herman did the baking.
They decided to close the bakery when they were held up at gunpoint; Herman’s goodness continued when he went to help Avram Malek open his kosher bakery on Monroe Avenue; he ended up sharing his recipes with Avram, rather than selling the them to him.
Having lost 50 family members in the Holocaust, Herman was gentle and wonderful with his children, especially his grandchildren. He and Barbara had very high integrity and ethics. Despite all of his experiences during the Holocaust, Herman’s philosophy was: You should always give people more than they ask for; you don’t shortchange people in any way.
Written by Karen Fernandez and Thomas Rheinstein from interviews with Herman’s son David Mand, and daughter, Laurie Mand Shifrin.