Andrzej Lubieniecki

"We should have peace; people should like each other and live in peace.  "

Name at birth
Abram Moshe Lubieniecki
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Zakroczym, Poland
Name of father, occupation
Itzak Lev Lubieniecki, Pastry baker
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Yenta Wrobel, My mother was from a religious family. She helped my father in the bakery.
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, three daughters and three sons. Hershel, Chana, Hendel, Leah, Devorah, Abram (me), and Shimon
How many in entire extended family?
About 100 people
Who survived the Holocaust?
Shimon, Herschel, and me. We found Herschel thirty-five years after liberation. In 1970, Shimon was found after liberation.
I wanted to be an actor because I acted in amateur theater as a child.  I loved acting.  When I was in Russia, I organized a school and taught language to children.  My family moved to Nasielsk (close to Zakroczym) when I was twelve.  In 1931, two of my sisters married and moved there as well.  After Lodz, we went to Warsaw.  Acting in theater was my love.  
The famous Yiddish actress, Ida Kaminska’s mother was an actress, and her husband built the first Yiddish theater in Warsaw. There were three big Jewish theaters in Warsaw and that’s where I acted.  I lived with my oldest brother, Herschel, in Warsaw in 1939. 
On September 1, 1939, the Germans invaded Warsaw.  There was a mobilization of the public.  I had to go to Zakroczym to get my birth certificate, but I couldn’t get it there.  They sent me to a different city to get the papers. Then I was conscripted into the Polish army to fight the Germans. They sent me to Modlin.  Then they sent me to Warsaw where I was captured by Germans and taken to Prussia (Germany).  They were fighting on horses, and I was taking care of the horses. The first night in Germany where I was in a POW camp, I overheard that we were going to be fenced in.   I spoke to a friend, and we decided to run away that night.  I ran back to Poland, to Nasielsk where my family and girlfriend lived.  My father, Leb Itzak, had died two years prior, in 1937.  Nasielsk was occupied by Germans.  My girlfriend, later my wife, and her father were kept in a synagogue.  My own family were in their homes.  My sister had to board a Nazi officer in her home.  He was an anti-Hitlerist.  He helped me by giving me a German uniform and a key to get into the synagogue.  I got my girlfriend out.  She didn’t recognize me because of the German uniform but went with me anyway.  I took her to my mother’s house.  We needed to leave Nasielsk, but my grandfather lived there and didn’t want to go.  We wouldn’t leave him. My grandfather insisted that Yenta (Miriam) and I get married.  He made a chuppah and a ketubah and married us on the spot.  We fled to Bialystok in Russia.  It wasn’t difficult to get into Russia, you only had to say you wanted to go to Russia to work.  We crossed from the German side of Poland to the Russian side. We went to Bialystok by train across the Bug River. We went to the town of Lichosielce.  I worked on a farm and my wife knitted for the town. We were there for six months.  We knew the Germans were coming so we went further into Russia. The Russians provided us with trains that took us to Zlatoust near Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains.  The Russians were controlling those farms and stealing from the farmers.
I felt happy escaping from the Germans.

Ida was born in Zlatoust on September 12, 1941, and Sofia was born on April 22, 1943. Their brother Arie was born in April 1945. They were born in a labor camp where everyone worked, hard labor for building materials. 
The Russians provided for our needs. We got 400 grams -- about half a pound of bread per person per day. It was all grain. No coffee and no sugar. If you worked, they paid you very little, but you went to the market to buy from the farmers. There were Poles too, but more Jews. A few hundred Jews and 200 Poles. They got along well. 
They were building a small city with fortifications because the Germans were coming. It was very cold there. They had one room and some land they could farm. I made a garden and got a pig to raise and eat.
I was mobilized into the Red Army in 1941 for two and a half years. I was wounded and then released. At night the Russians were sabotaging the railroads, blowing up the tracks. A bomb on the tracks exploded. That’s how I was wounded. It was not life threatening, but shrapnel wounds from the bomb on the tracks that the Russians put there and made the German train blow up. They took me to a farmer who took care of me until the train came and took me to the hospital in 1942. 
A Polish man told him don’t go back to Poland, all the Jews are gone. But he went back to Zlatoust after the war. He went to Chelyabinsk to the theater. His family didn’t want to go there, so he went back to Zlatoust.
After the war the family was on a Russian train (cattle car) full of Polish Jews and Ida got scarlet fever and we were thrown off the train at Poznan. This was 1946. The trains were going to Silesia in the south of Poland. The Germans were forced out and the Jews were put into the Germans’ homes, which were fully equipped. But we didn’t go there. We went to a church in Krotoszyn where Ida went to the hospital. Two weeks later Sophie got scarlet fever and went to the hospital. The rest of the family lived in the church. We stayed there over two months. Then we went back to my wife’s town, Nasielsk. The Church gave us money for train tickets. The house was gone. It had been SS headquarters. The Poles took whatever the Germans hadn’t. The neighbors took our family in and housed us in their barn. I heard that Jews were returning to Warsaw, so I went there. The farmer told me not to go but gave us money to go back to Nasielsk near Warsaw. After that, the Joint Distribution Committee took us to Praga near Warsaw.
With some friends I was looking for the archives in the Warsaw Ghetto and we found them. One of the friends had survived the ghetto and moved to Paris and knew where the Ringelblum archives were kept. He told the Polish Jewish Committee the address. But the streets and houses were gone. But I knew approximately where it would be, and we went and started digging. The archives were in metal boxes and milk cans behind a wall and some of the bricks were a different color, so we knew that’s where they were. Ber Mark who was head of the new Jewish community wrote a book about the archives that I found.
After the war we went to Srod Borel where there was a sanitarium where they cured people of tuberculosis. We were given a house with a caretaker there for two years. The Poles were very good to our family. After two years we were given a small apartment in a tenement. We were on the first floor and had a bathroom, but most people didn’t. We couldn’t leave Poland legally, but some people left by crossing the mountains. I decided it was too dangerous to cross the mountains with three small children. An aunt tried to sponsor us from America, but we couldn’t get passports from Poland. I worked in the Jewish Community Center until 1947. Relatives in the US were helping us with money, food, and clothes that we could sell to make money that we collected and helped poor people in Poland. The first time we found out we could leave was 1957. We stayed in Poland until 1957 and I worked in the Yiddish Theater in Warsaw. Breslau (Wroclaw) was where the Jewish theater started. 
In 1949 Ida Kaminska knew she could move the theater to Warsaw. She sent someone to look for me so I could move my family. We lived in Warsaw from 1949 until 1957. I appeared in The Dybbuk in Warsaw with Morefsky. I played in Fiddler on the Roof as Perchik, and The Brothers Ashkenazi as one of the brothers, 
I found my younger brother Shimon in 1956. I was in a restaurant in Poland when a man approached me and said he was in Israel and saw my brother. Then the man went back to Israel and told Shimon he saw his brother. I couldn’t believe it. 
In 1969 I was in a store in Montreal, and they had a Jewish salesman wait on me so we could speak to each other in Yiddish. He asked me if I had a brother and I said yes, but he died in the war. The man said he knew a man who looked so much like me he had to be my brother, so no, he’s alive. I contacted Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), and in 1970 I got a call from my older brother Herschel, and we were reunited.
In 1957 the Polish government broke relations with Israel. When people protested, the Poles said if you don’t like it here, go to Israel. That’s how we got out.
How did he feel going to Israel? We were all fine, except for my wife. She didn’t like the hot weather.
The Jewish Poles in Israel decided to get rid of their Russian medals. I got medals from Poland and Russia. In Israel they collected the Russian medals and sent them back. Years later, the Russians sent flowers to those Jews on their birthdays.
Ida met her husband Alex in Israel, and they came to his family in Detroit. Sophie went to Windsor because Ida was not an American citizen and therefore could not sponsor her. 

Where did you settle?
I had friends in Montreal and went there for the Yiddish theater.
Occupation after the war
I played in Yiddish Theater in Israel. I also performed in Paris, in the theater that was recently attacked, the Bataclan.
When and where were you married?
1939 in Nasielsk, Poland, 1939
Miriam Reyla Wlosko, homemaker
Ida, Sofia, and Aerie
Michael Chayt; Deborah Bragman David Aisner, Arthur Aisner Sylvia Lubiencki, Daniel Alexander Aisner, Maya Aisner, Daniel Aisner Great grandchildren: Mia Bragman, Jackson Bragman plus two more
What do you think helped you to survive?
The children, he did it for his children.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
We should have peace; people should like each other and live in peace.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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