We lived in a apartment complex on the corner of 13 Gazowa Street and 7 Bochenska Street in Cracow, Poland. We lived in a one-room apartment in a mostly Jewish apartment complex with a Jewish theater attached. My father was a tailor, drummer, and a leader in the community.
My mother was a seamstress, a mother of three and was a volunteer at the Jewish theater.
I used to get stoned by the Catholics every time I crossed the street. It was not an easy life to live then and I lived in constant fear. My father would often send me across the street to the corner store to buy kerosene and bread.
My family was sent to the Cracow ghetto, along with my father's mother, Sophia Zauder, who was wheel-chair bound. They lived there together for a short while before Sophia's Zauder was murdered by the Nazis, as she was crippled and unable to work.
They remained there for over a year, 1940-1941. My father Karl had set something up with a non-Jewish butcher in fear of what might happen next. When I was in the Cracow ghetto, my father gave me directions to go to this butcher shop.
From there, we were forcefully moved to Plaszow work camp from the fall of 1941until February, 1943. My father was murdered by a Nazis’ pistol gunshot to the head. He was doing his job as a fire marshal making sure everyone was in their barracks at night. The SS lieutenant shot him for sport. It took just shy of three weeks for him to die from the bullet wound in his head. I bore witness to my father's pain and suffering.
I heard my father's last words and his legacy was passed on to me. He told me that my I would survive this atrocity and that I would bear witness to all that had happened. He told me that I would go to America to live and would contribute something to the world.
After my father died, I found a Tallis, a Jewish prayer shawl to wrap his body in. My uncle Solomon and I carried him out into the field in the dark to bury him. Bullets flew overhead in both directions as buried him.
In November, 1943, I was taken to Auschwitz, by cattle car, alone. I worked in Auschwitz, cutting wood for the crematorium for a year and half. In the month of November, during the fall of 1945, I was on a death march. I walked by night and scavenged, and slept by day in the forest. I ate leaves, grass, grubs and bark off trees in order to survive. I ate snow to keep hydrated. It was a miracle that I lived through such an ordeal.
It was an excruciating death march which seemed to never end. We heard American tanks coming up over a hill, I was in a state of pandemonium! The Nazis gathered all 800 Holocaust survivors who were left out of the 3,500 who started on the death march. They told us all to lay down in the snow face down.
My brother Solomon laid his body on top of me and waited for the bullets to begin to fly. But nothing happened. It took quite a while but some brave soul looked up and saw that all the Nazis had fled.
Just then they were liberated by a General Patton’s 3rd Army, Tank Division as they came up over the hill. It was a crazy time. Everyone was screaming, running this way and that. My brother and I climbed onto one of General Patton’s tanks and helped shoot into the woods after the SS that fled.
We spent a few days with the American soldiers fighting. We were given rations but not enough to get us to be healthy. We had been starved for five years.
After the war was over, I spent time in a Displaced Persons (DP) camp. Then my brother and I, traveled to Poland to try and find any family left. I felt alone again.
I went to work for the American soldiers and finally got passage money from my mother’s sister, Anna Lucks-Holtz to join her family in Detroit, Michigan. I arrived on May 20th, 1946.