Ira Mechlowitz

"Move to Israel. I loved Israel because it was my home, especially after the Holocaust."

Name at birth
Yitzchak Mechlowitz
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Kobluszowa-Pszykek, Poland
Name of father, occupation
Mayer, Farmer, he grew corn and potatoes
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Chana, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, Sara, Herschel, Menachem, Yitzchak, Sam
How many in entire extended family?
Who survived the Holocaust?
Ira's mother's sister with four children, his mother, and three brothers
Ira Mechlowitz was born in Kobluszowa-Pszykek, a small village in southeastern Poland.  He was the second youngest of five children.  His parents were poor farmers.  They lived in an underdeveloped part of Poland without electricity or indoor plumbing and among Catholic Polish farmers.  Ira attended only Jewish schools until his last year of school, which he spent in a Polish public school.

 Due to their remote location, the family was not immediately affected by the German occupation.  This changed quickly, however, when the Germans confiscated land, which included the Mechlowitz's home and farm in order to create a military zone.  
In January 1942, Ira and other members of his family were rounded-up by the Germans and confined in one ghetto and then transported to another.  They were also placed in a labor camp near their home for a period of time.  Unlike other areas occupied by Germany, the ghettos and the labor camp in which he was confined were only lightly guarded and not restrictively enclosed.  He believed this was probably due to the fact that they were located in a sparsely populated, remote area.  This allowed the inmates some opportunity for movement.
 Ira managed to escape a number of times just prior to round-ups and shipment for "resettlement."  Some of these escapes were made at the last possible moment, the guards shooting at him as he fled.  After escaping he went into hiding, sometimes in the forest, sometimes staying with former non-Jewish neighbors, or by pretending to be a Catholic Pole.  
A solid knowledge of the Polish language and his non-Jewish appearance helped him in passing for a Catholic Pole.  The fact that he had been circumcised was always a concern and actually resulted in him being taken captive at one point.  He cited a number of incidents in which he was aided by non-Jewish Poles, some of whom directly saved his life.
 Soviet troops arrived in early 1944 and allowed the then sixteen-year-old to come out of hiding.  He was reunited with his mother and two brothers.  However, his father, older brother, and sister perished.  After he returned home and while living with an uncle, he became aware of numerous postwar abuses and murders of Jews by Poles.  As a result, the remaining members of the family decided to leave Poland.  He went to Palestine and in 1960 immigrated to the United States.
 Ira witnessed a number of atrocities during the Holocaust.  He saw the slaughter of Jewish female inmates in a labor camp.  They were shot after being forced to dig their own graves.  He suffered mental anguish over this and other atrocities.  He blamed himself for his sister's death because he was unable to convince her to escape from the labor camp.
Where were you in hiding?
Sometimes in a forest in southeastern Poland, sometimes staying with former non-Jewish neighbors, or by pretending to be a Catholic Pole
Where did you go after being liberated?
After liberation, he went to Poland to a kibbutz. His two brothers stayed with their mother in Cracow. With his kibbutz, he came to Israel in 1946. Kibbutz Alanim in Emek Israel. Ira met his wife, Helen Kartz on the kibbutz. They were married in 1949. Two children were born in Israel, one in the United States. He left the Kibbutz in 1951, to try to have a better life in America.
When did you come to the United States?
Ira came to USA in 1960 for a visit; his two brothers lived in New Jersey. Then he came to Detroit to visit his aunt and cousins. He returned to Israel after two months. After a year, the family decided to move to America. to have an easier than the difficult life they had in Israel.
Where did you settle?
Detroit, Michigan
How is it that you came to Michigan?
Detroit, his aunt said she could help find him a job. He worked with the aunt’s family in the meat business.
Occupation after the war
In Israel he was an insurance man.
Helen, Homemaker also kindergarten teacher
Mayer, businessman; Hannah, corporate travel agent; Sharon, homemaker
Eight: Ari, Blake, Jacob, Ellery, Gillian, Daniel, Jayce, Avery Great grandchildren: Three: Brook, Benjamin, Eva
What do you think helped you to survive?
He was running from one place to another, he was a runner. He was able to get the family to run away with him. They were in hiding with Polish people.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Move to Israel. I loved Israel because it was my home, especially after the Holocaust.
Biography given by Helen Mechlowitz, Ira Mechlowitz’s wife
Interview date:
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