My brother Samuel was a physician. Samuel was informed by the Germans that he would be “sent to the East” to a labor camp. Instead, Samuel fled to the Ukraine to escape. Our father subsequently fled to Soviet occupied Poland (near Tarnopol) where my mother and I would join him later. Both my father and my brother were never heard from again. It was very painful for me to have been separated from my father and brother.
My mother and I lived in the ghetto. I was taken to Starochowice, a labor camp. My mother was later taken with the rest of the Jewish population of the ghetto to the Majdanek death camp where she perished.
I survived the Selection at Auschwitz, was given a tattoo number, and became a slave laborer. As the Russians were advancing and the Germans were retreating, Along with all of the other prisoners of Auschwitz-Birkenau, I was marched out of the camp. The death march took me to Buchenwald. Soon I was marched out again ending up in Sachsenhausen. After Sachsenhausen, I was on another death march as the Germans retreated. Suddenly one morning, I realized I was liberated as the Germans had fled during the night. After the war was over, I lived in a Displaced Persons’ (DP) Camp in Frankfurt, Germany. During this period, I was in a state of mourning.
About a year after the war was over, I resumed my education which helped me in the recovery process. I was accepted into an accelerated high school program organized by the Polish Government in London for Polish ex-prisoners of war. I remember the address of my aunt in Detroit, Michigan and wrote to her. She began to arrange for my immigration to the United States. I had been accepted in medical school in Frankfurt. After one year of medical school, my visa to the US came through. I arrived in the United States in 1947. I then attended and graduated from Wayne University Medical School.
The German government passed a law stating that persecuted people could obtain pensions. I started receiving referrals from the German Consul to evaluate Holocaust victims for pensions. Through this work and my own personal life reflections, I helped develop a theory on the effects of overwhelming traumatization on survivors of the Holocaust (Survivor Syndrome-Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). I have authored three books and many articles on a variety of subjects. I have been honored as a pioneer in the field of Psychic Trauma by the International Society for the Study of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. I am currently Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Michigan State University.