Henry Dorfman

"I gave a lot to people and G-d gave back to me.  Remember where you came from and never let it happen again."

Name at birth
Joshua David. I was given an extra name after birth, Chaim, (Life in Hebrew). I was given an extra name to live as I was very sickly as a baby and was not expected to live.
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Name of father, occupation
Moshe Dorfman, Fruit groves, and cattle business in winter
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Glicka Greenberg, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, three boys and one girl
How many in entire extended family?
About 40
Who survived the Holocaust?
My father, me, and a first cousin, Yossi Ribo, who later moved to Israel
I was able to jump off of the train leaving Kozienice which was headed for the Treblinka death camp.  My father and I had made an arrangement to meet at a farm of a friend of the family.  My father had left the ghetto to find food for the family.  When he came back, they had taken everyone away.  

I hid in a barn with my father and another man.  We saw a woman with her child in the woods near us.  We told her to hide with us.  There were five of us altogether in a small area behind a wall in the barn where the hay was stored.  We were in hiding there for 22 months.  

At night, I used to go out looking for food.  A sympathetic German farmer, a Folksdeutsch farmer helped us get food.  We were liberated by Yiddish speaking Russian Jews in 1944.   

I was taken into the Russian army.  When we got to Lublin, I ran away and went to Lodz, Poland which was a big city.  After the war, I met my future wife Mala at the Jewish center in Lodz.  Friends of mine from my hometown knew her.

Name of Ghetto(s)
Where were you in hiding?
Near Magneshew
Where did you go after being liberated?
Lodz, Poland
When did you come to the United States?
In 1949, my wife and I received our papers to leave for America.
Where did you settle?
They sent us first to Topeka, Kansas since I was in the meat business. But there were very few Jews there and no other survivors. We learned English while in Topeka. We had become friendly with the principal of a high school. In the evenings, his wife would come over and speak English with us.
How is it that you came to Michigan?
We went to Detroit to attend the wedding of one of my wife’s first cousins, Larry Wayne. While we were visiting in Detroit, we could hear every kind of language as it was a big city. We decided to move to Detroit.
Occupation after the war
At first, Hudson Motors factory, then meat business in the Eastern Market, Detroit. I wanted to go out on my own. I later became the founder of Thorn Apple Valley Meat Company.
When and where were you married?
September 19, 1945 in Lodz. My wife found out that her sister was alive in Germany and so we went there. I was in the meat business in Germany.
Mala Weintraub, Homemaker
Joel, lawyer and managing partner of investment firm; Gayle Weiss, homemaker; Carolyn Gallick Dorfman, choreographer and Artistic Director of Dance Company.
Nine: Noah, Jordan, Joshua, Michael, Rebecca, Samantha, Layne, Devin, and Logan. One deceased, Brandon Weiss.
What do you think helped you to survive?
Personal relationships, intelligence, perseverance, and luck.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
I gave a lot to people and G-d gave back to me.  Remember where you came from and never let it happen again.
Charles Silow
Interview date:
To learn more about this survivor, please visit:
The Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, University of Michigan

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