Abram Shain

"All Jews all over the world and Israel should be strong, live in peace, be united. I'm thankful to G-d that I survived. G-d bless."

Name at birth
Abram Jakub Szajnfuks
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Name of father, occupation
Berl, Painter
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Alta Brucha Mostek, Dressmaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, me, Chana Ita, Moishe Leizer and Toba Sura
How many in entire extended family?
Who survived the Holocaust?
Me, four cousins and one uncle and an aunt
In 1935, Polish Jews living in Germany were chased out of Germany and were made to return to Poland.  I met people who lived on my street who returned who told me about the atrocities about what Hitler was doing to the Jews in Germany.  They were beating Jews up, not letting us work, chasing us out of our homes.  I made up my mind that if the Germans came to Poland that I would run away.
The Germans invaded Poland, on November 8, 1939. I was almost 17 years old, I left my home with two friends, Nachman Kaplan and David Kweller.  I talked to my family that I planned to run away to Russia.  My mother said she could not leave because she didn’t want to leave behind her furniture.  My father agreed with me and put his hand on my head and gave me a blessing.  He told me, “Till now you had to listen to me, from now on you are on your own but go straight in your life, not to cheat, not to steal, and be an honest person. Be friendly, help people.” He did not go because he did not want to leave his wife, my mother.  My younger siblings were much younger than I.
I walked three days to the Russian border and was shot at by German soldiers, three times. Luckily I was not hit when they chased me running away from them. In the process I was separated from my friends.  I met up with other Jews trying to go to Russia and crossed into Russia with them.  I boarded a train to Bialystock, Poland in the Russian zone.  I was homeless. I traveled by cattle train with hundreds of other Jewish refugees to Magnitogorsk, Russia, a journey of about 2000 miles, and it took fourteen days.  We suffered from cold and hunger.  
I worked at hard labor, digging ditches, paving roads, was underfed, overworked, and underpaid.  My worst sickness was my homesickness for my family left behind in Warsaw.  None of them survived from the Warsaw Ghetto.  After my contract in Magnitogorsk expired in 1945, I was “free.”  I moved to the former Polish city in 1947 in Lvov, as I had no where to go.  There I met my wife.  
In 1957, after Poland and the Soviet Union agreed on repatriation of former Polish citizens back to Poland, My wife and I and our two children moved to the city of Wroclaw, Poland. In 1964, with the help of HIAS, we immigrated to the United States and settled in Detroit.  In 1970, we became US citizens and changed our name to Shain.  
Name of Ghetto(s)
Occupation after the war
Sophia Zlatopolska
Boris, insurance agent and Mark, dentist
Three: Jason, Jackie, and Joshua
What do you think helped you to survive?
Running away from the Nazis, hard work, and positive attitude for a better tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better. I have to defeat the enemy who wants to do bad things to me. Positive attitude helps me to defeat all the negatives in life.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
All Jews all over the world and Israel should be strong, live in peace, be united. I'm thankful to G-d that I survived. G-d bless.
Charles Silow
Interview date:
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