Ben Moskovitz

"The story is bitter and it can't be told and it can't be understood. I trusted them."

Name at birth
Bencion Moskovitz
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Nizni Apsa, Czechoslovakia
Name of father, occupation
Zelig Moskovitz, Farmer and logger
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Esther Moskovitz, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and six sons: Moti, Sloimi, Bencion (me), Janke, Fani and Zisje
Who survived the Holocaust?
Moti, Fani, Janke and me
In 1941, Jewish families were taken from our small town.  We were put on a train and taken to a sawmill about thirty miles away across the Polish border.  We were told not to worry, just to pack some things that we would be back tomorrow.  I felt something was not right, something was not “kosher.”
My father was a strong man, a logger, he was not afraid of anyone.  He saw a Polish guy hit an old man.  My father hit him back.  Two or three guys jumped on him with steel pieces and killed him on the spot.
There was a lady with a baby.  A Polish girl pointed to a soldier, that the woman was a Jew. The soldier took the baby and threw into a telephone pole.  I paid no attention. I escaped to the woods and then went back home where there were other Jews from our town still there.  
I went back home and asked a neighbor for food to bring back to my family.   She gave me food but asked that I bring back her bag.  I went back.  I gave the guard about $5 to let me in and let me back out.  I found my brother Janke (Jack) and gave him the food.  The whole thing took ten minutes 
I was later caught and was taken to a farm to work.  While I was on the farm, I happened upon a cattle train filled with Jews that had stopped on the railroad tracks.   It was a very hot day, people were screaming.
I saw the “darkness” that existed.   I said to myself, if you’re going to kill me, you’re going to kill me by myself, I don’t want to die with others in a group.  With my mother, father, and sisters I saw already the darkness and it got darker everyday.
One time in the labor camp, I planned to escape.  I saw what it was and I ran with someone who wanted to go with me.  We wound up in Budapest. 
One time when I was with my brother Jack, the Hungarian Gestapo took me away from him.  Two men held rifles aimed at me.   
I said, “G-d you have to help me.”  I grabbed both their guns, pushed them apart, and ran.  They shot at me at me but missed, the blast from the rifles knocked me down but I was not hit.   
One week later I was freed by the Russians.  I then helped the Russians.  The Germans had cut the wooden railroad ties so that the Russian trains could not use them. We repaired the tracks.   
I saw a lot of horrors.  I saw children and babies being removed from a train during a Selection.  They were thrown into a large container ten feet deep.
I have more in me than most people, very few people survived.  
One time, a friend and I were trapped, there were German soldiers to our left and to our right.  I said don’t think, do it right now.  I went straight ahead to a German building.  We walked straight into the building.  I spoke up and said we need papers to get to our parents.  You are the German officer in charge, help us.  He gave us papers.  I put them in my pocket and we left the other way.  We went to the river nearby.  This was logging country; we got on a big log in the river and rode it twenty miles to safety.  
I walked away, trying to escape, every chance I had.  When people were taken this way, I went to the other side.   I saw what was coming, I was a step ahead.  
The darkness that I saw, you can’t tell it to anybody.  The next guy didn’t see it and didn’t survive.  They killed babies.  Families were told to dig a big hole as a trap for Russian tanks.  But it wasn’t for the tanks; it was to kill the babies, to kill the families.  All of the people wound up in there.  There were two Germans hiding in the bushes with machine guns.  People had no idea what was happening.  Who could dream of such a thing? 
I’ve kept quiet about this, I never told my kids, nobody.  I get sick from it.  
One time they were taking Jews to a church; there were kids, 15-25 years old.  A train would come and take people.  It went about ten miles to a big barn.  They put the people in the barn and started a diesel engine.  The smoke went inside.  A German leader was 300 feet away in a house, he didn’t like seeing it.  I was there; I acted like I was gentile.
The darkness was so dark you could feel it.  They tricked everyone.
 The world hasn’t changed, look at what goes on around the world now, terrorists killing innocent people.  There is still no peace between people.  Who can be trusted?
I saved my brother, Jack’s life.  He went through worse than I did.  He now lives on a farm in northern Michigan.   When I’ve been with him during deer hunting season, a friend of his told me to talk slowly, to be very quiet.  An animal can smell if you’re a meat eater.  They’re afraid of people and dogs; they’re not afraid of horses or cows that are around.  I saw that.  No one of us dreamed that we were in such danger.  I learned not to trust anybody.   
When I was younger, I studied Hebrew in school.  We learned about the stories of the Jewish people, of all of the tragedies we went through.  I didn’t feel it; I thought that it was a new world.  Now I understand it.

To learn more about this survivor, please visit
The Holocaust Memorial Center Oral History Collection 
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
What DP Camp were you after the war?
When did you come to the United States?
In 1949. I needed a home. I thought about going to Israel but England did not let us in and it was a struggle to live there. I had struggled enough in life.
Where did you settle?
We first came to Pittsburgh. My brother Jack was living there but he couldn’t breathe with the smoke and pollution there. He needed the fresh air of the country like where we grew up. He eventually bought a farm in northern Michigan. We moved to Detroit.
Occupation after the war
Shoemaker then Baker; Owner of Star Bakery
When and where were you married?
1946 in a DP camp in Gabersee, Germany
Ida Mehler
Morry, gastroenterologist Esther, manages Star Bakery Brenda, reproductive physician
Seven: Brittany, Courtney, Lindsay, Aaron, Joshua, Addy, and David
What do you think helped you to survive?
I did not want some son of a b**ch to come and kill me. I saw the way they killed people and didn’t want to die like that. I could not stop the brutality and they had the power. I smelled something was wrong. I said they’re not going to put me in that big group of people; I’m not going to let them torture me. When you’re a kid and you have a ball, you don’t want someone to take it away from you. I didn’t want to surrender to them. I saw the trouble. I was a loner and that helped me to survive. G-d took me out of the fire. I’m proud of my family. I thank G-d for everything, even in America I feel G-d helps me.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
The story is bitter and it can't be told and it can't be understood. I trusted them.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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