David Kahan

"Jewish survival and Israel are vital and I believe the Jewish people should work toward this.  The world should make sure that the Holocaust must never happen again.  We must support Israel.  If Israel had existed during the Holocaust, many, many Jews could have been saved.  No country wanted the Jews.   Jews should unconditionally support Israel.  I hope that my children, grandchildren, and all of my descendants should be good Jews and good Americans.  They should be charitable and help toward Jewish and Israel’s survival."

Date of birth
11/22/1928
Where were you born?
Name of father, occupation
Moshe Chaim, Hebrew Teacher.
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Rosa Czick, Homemaker.
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents; four brothers, Mechier Zalman, Ephraim, Meir Yosef, Hersh Leib, and I; and one sister, Chaya Sara.
How many in entire extended family?
Over 80.
Who survived the Holocaust?
Two brothers, Ephraim, Meir Yosef and I.
Mechier Zalman perished in a Hungarian labor camp. He was very religious and refused to eat non-kosher food. Ephraim, survived the labor camp and later went to Israel. Meir Yosef, survived in Budapest with Christian papers and later went to Israel. He died as an Israeli soldier. Chaya Sara also perished in Auschwitz with our brother.
 
We arrived at Auschwitz on cattle cars.  I remember my little brother, Hersh Lieb, (11 years old) telling us that a person over there, a Polish Jew, told him to say that he was 17 years old.  We had no idea what he meant.  As we stood in line, with my father, we were holding each other until they separated us.  They sent my father and my brother to one side and me to the other.  

The next morning, a Polish Jew said to me, “You see those chimneys? That’s your parents and your family. They’ve gone up in smoke; they’ve been murdered in the gas chambers and burned in the crematorium.  You can say Kaddish (Hebrew memorial prayer) for them. You’re young, maybe 15, maybe you’ll survive.  If you do, don’t forget to tell the world what they’ve done to us.”

After liberation, I became sick with Flecktyphus (typhus).  I was taken to Feldefing DP camp then later to a children’s camp.  I received papers to go to the United States.  The JDC arranged for me to go to New York to Ellis Island.  A woman waiting for me arranged for me to go to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I was placed with a Jewish family there at “2622 Plymouth Ave North, Minneapolis,” my first home in the wonderful United States.  I was 19 years old and all by myself.  I stayed there for a year.

Friends from the DP camp were in Detroit and I came to Detroit in 1950.  My two older brothers were going to go to Israel.  I didn’t want to go; the British were taking Jews to Cyprus and putting them behind barbed wire.  It reminded me of Auschwitz and the other camps.
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Occupation after the war
Tool and die maker, then sold real estate, became a commercial and industrial real estate developer.
Spouse
Terry, Homemaker
Children
Douglas, builder Jeffrey, lawyer Michael, financial consultant.
Grandchildren
Eight.
What do you think helped you to survive?
Miracles, hard work, and youth. The whole idea that I survived was more or less a miracle. You had to use your head everyday. I tried to find a work commander who wasn’t so cruel. I tried to get into a work group that wasn’t so hard, because of the terrible work conditions that we had; it was difficult to work when you were starving. I took a lot of chances, switching from one work place to another.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Jewish survival and Israel are vital and I believe the Jewish people should work toward this.  The world should make sure that the Holocaust must never happen again.  We must support Israel.  If Israel had existed during the Holocaust, many, many Jews could have been saved.  No country wanted the Jews.  

Jews should unconditionally support Israel.  I hope that my children, grandchildren, and all of my descendants should be good Jews and good Americans.  They should be charitable and help toward Jewish and Israel’s survival.

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