Joseph Gajda

"It's good to be Jewish even though we suffered because of it. I want my family to be Jewish. I am a Survivor."

Name at birth
Mordechai Joseph Gajda
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Czestochowa, Poland
Name of father, occupation
Zelman Gajda, Businessman
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Genevieve “Golda” Berknsztad, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, David, me, Esther, Aaron, and Naha
How many in entire extended family?
Not sure
Who survived the Holocaust?
My brother David and me
My family was taken to the ghetto in Czestochowa, Poland.  I worked in the Hassag Aparetenbaum Factory in Czestochowa.   It was an ammunition factory where I helped make bullets for guns and rockets for the German Army.  I was there until the end of the war.  My brother, David, became a soldier in the Polish Army in Russia in General Anders Army.  David fought in Palestine in the Army.   

The Polish Army and Russian Army, together, liberated us.  I returned to Czestochowa and then later moved to Lodz.  I graduated from the Polish University in Business Management.  I became a teacher for the University/Government.  I became the director of the Mjenskie Handel Detaliczny IMHD, a department store.  I later opened up a business store for fabrics (materials) and then a women’s coat factory.  

In 1970, my family and I moved to the United States to Amsterdam, New York where my cousins, Irving Hayden and Fred Sendrowicz were living.  I started a retail store in Amsterdam, New York manufacturing coats and selling fabrics.  We then moved to Detroit with a similar clothing business, and then opened up a Jewelry business in Southfield, MI.

Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Where did you go after being liberated?
Back to Czestochowa then to Lodz
When did you come to the United States?
Where did you settle?
Amsterdam, New York
How is it that you came to Michigan?
For our clothing business
Occupation after the war
Clothing business
Hana Lenczner, Clothing store owner. She was in the same camp at Czestochowa in the women’s barracks. Her family died in Treblinka.
James Gajda, Chrysler Corporation; Ela “Liz” Jarosh, piano teacher; Genevieve “Gina” Renna, Insurance company
Five: Jeff Gajda, Annette Gajda, Hanna Jarosh, Kim Jarosh, and Hanna Renna. Two great-grandchildren: Gabrielle and Sofia Gajda
What do you think helped you to survive?
I was working for the Germans in the factory at Hassag Aparetenbaum Ammunition Factory
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
It's good to be Jewish even though we suffered because of it. I want my family to be Jewish. I am a Survivor.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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