Max Kozlowski

"Be nice to your family and to all people regardless of their background."

Name at birth
Mordechai (Mortka) Kozlowski
Date of birth
Where did you grow up?
Przytyk, Poland.
Name of father, occupation
Hersh Tzvi Kozlowski, Had a little hardware store.
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Shaindel Borenstein, Homemaker.
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and twelve children, eleven sons and one daughter which included Mortka, Alter, Mendel, Binyamin, Genendl (daughter).
How many in entire extended family?
Large extended family.
Who survived the Holocaust?
Max and his son, Marvin. Max heard a rumor that his uncle’s daughter wound up in South America.
Max’s son, Marvin Kozlowski wrote the following:  

My grandparents Hersh Tzvi and Shaindel Kozlowski lived in a shtetl, a small town named Przytyk.  Przytyk was about eight miles from Radom.  My grandparents had twelve children, eleven sons and one daughter, Genendl.  

It was not an easy life for them.  A large part of the diet was soup and stale bread.  

They had a small hardware store of about 200 square feet and about 300 square feet living space.  There were two beds, one for the father, one for the mother with her daughter, and one small bed for the two older sons.  The others were grown and had left.  When I stayed on vacation for two weeks with them, I slept with my uncle Mendel.  

My Auntie Genendl worked like a slave, while my grandmother was out socializing.  My grandfather worked in the front of the store, went with his sister to villages to sell hardware, and also studied part-time in the Yeshiva.  

At the age of 17, my father, Max Kozlowski, was introduced to Rivka Finkel Friedman, the woman who became my mother.  

After my father married, he decided to settle in Radom in a low-class neighborhood at the end of the city.  He decided to open up a grocery store.  

The store was a huge success.  After a few years, he purchased a lot near by and built six units, for businesses, stores, and living quarters.  

In spite of his religious upbringing, Max went twice a year to Shul, to synagogue, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  On other holidays and ordinary days, he prayed at home before the store opened.  

In 1939, the war broke out.  The German SS forced us to open the store to give away the merchandise for worthless money.  After a year and a half, they forced us to move to a ghetto in Radom.  We had to exchange our beautiful home for a junky one.  We lived in starvation.  We had to stay in line at nighttime to get a pound of bread.

In 1942, the SS liquidated my ghetto; the smaller of the two in Radom, the amount of people in our ghetto was 10,000.

After 1 ½ years in the Radom ghetto, the Germans came one night with spotlights and soldiers with orders for us to leave or be shot.  A lot of people were shot.  

The Germans counted 1000 men and sent us to a munitions factory in Radom.  My father and I were in that 1000.  We worked there for twelve hour shifts with hardly any food.  

9,000 were forced to walk to the railroad station.  We found out later from the train engineer that they were loaded onto trains, 100 in a boxcar with no water, no food, and no bathroom.  They traveled for four days to the death camp, Treblinka, where they were murdered.  

In 1944, the Russians were advancing.  The Germans in their retreat, moved us back with them.  The Germans started stealing everything possible, even metal from fences. 

We were taken to Tomaszow, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Beihimgen Camp, Unterucksingen, Mosbach.  Then they put us into work to dynamite, the insides of mountains to expand for more space to store planes and weapons.  We had to carry out the debris after the dynamiting.

The 7th United States Army was moving forward, causing the Germans to keep moving back.  The Germans took us to Neckargerach and placed us in a huge hall.  They took all of our clothes, leaving us naked to ensure that we would not escape.  Soon we were given back our uniforms, which were numbered.  

The final order came in to put us in railroad cars and ship us to the crematorium at Mauthausen in Austria.  Luckily for us, the bridge we were supposed to travel on was destroyed.  My father and I were the lucky survivors.  

We survived the terrible war and came to Wertheim am Main where we stayed for awhile.  Wertheim, which was not far from where the 7th Army was based.  

The German money was still worthless.  My father, Max, helped himself with some cigarettes for which he could trade for other things.  Eventually he was able to open a small leatherwear store, selling items like suitcases, briefcases, wallets, and so forth.  In 1956, my father made it to the United States to join the rest of the family who had come earlier.  

My father settled with my wife, Edith and me.  He lived a happy life with us and enjoyed his grandchildren, Jay, Ruthie, and Joseph, until his unfortunate passing after surgery at the age of 76 in 1975.
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
When did you come to the United States?
Where did you settle?
Max came to Michigan because his daughter-in- law, Edith, had relatives living in Detroit.
Occupation after the war
Max worked in the kitchen at Sinai Hospital; he loved to study the Torah at the Yeshiva.
Rivka Friedman, Homemaker.
Itka, a baby died, Moishe (Marvin), Hela, Fela, and Shlomo.
Jay, cardiologist; Ruth, rheumatologist, internal medicine; Joseph, radiologist. Great grandchildren: Six.
What do you think helped you to survive?
Pure luck. We were taken to work in the ammunition factory rather than be selected to go to Treblinka to our deaths. Also, we were together and helped each other.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Be nice to your family and to all people regardless of their background.

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