Nancy Fordonski

"They should never give up and they should believe and trust in G-d. We raised good kids, we have naches (gratification)."

Name at birth
Nacha Lipszyc
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Zloczew, Poland
Name of father, occupation
Avraham Shmuel, Leather goods
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Sura Gross, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
My parents, eight girls and two boys: Rivka, Riva, Tova, Hersh, Golda, Mata, Naomi, Yisroel (Jack), Cesia (Sylvia) and me
How many in entire extended family?
Who survived the Holocaust?
Brother Jack Lipton, Sister Sylvia Feld and me
On September 1, 1939, my father came home from the Synagogue and said we have to leave; the Germans have crossed the border into Poland.  We were close to the border, about 15 kilometers away.  We had to leave because my father was very active and a prominent man in the city, in the Jewish and Polish communities.  There were a lot of Germans living in the city, we were afraid that they would turn him into the Germans because he was a Jew and active in the community.  We went immediately to Zdunska Wola where my two married sisters lived and where my mother grew up.  It was terrible there; we lived in two rooms, my parents, five girls and a brother.  We slept four in a bed, no indoor toilet, and no running water.  
The Germans established the ghetto in Zdunska Wola in 1940.  I worked for the Germans making socks for the German army.  The food was rationed, we were always hungry.  
In 1942, they started to liquidate the ghetto.  First they took my youngest two sisters, 8 and 10, they said they would go to a better place with gardens and fresh air, and they would take care of them.  But there was no sign of them.  Then a few hours later they called out everybody and they started to make a Selection.   We marched to the cemetery where they made the Selection.  They took people to the right or the left.  Those who were taken to the right were picked to do labor; those to the left were to be killed.  I was there with my sister Cesia; I didn’t realize my sister Rivka also survived.  
We stayed in the cemetery over night.  There was a ditch in the middle to keep us segregated.  At dawn, they marched out those who were selected to be gassed.  This included my parents.  
Trucks were waiting and took them to Chelmno death camp.  Polish people who were working at Chelmno later told us what happened there.  They used gas to make them disoriented.  We heard that they threw people into ditches and buried them alive.  They put Vapno (quicklime) onto the ditches; whoever else they gassed and burned in the crematorium.
They then took Cesia and me to the Lodz ghetto, this was 1942.  We were assigned a room and went to different places of work.  Mainly, we were assigned to work in the biggest factory which made uniforms for the German army, on Lagiewnieka #36.  We were assigned do the cooking and cleaning for the population of the factory.  The work was very difficult, scrubbing the floor, working in the kitchen.  
Mostly they selected young people to do this kind of work because it was very hard labor.  At my work, I met Michael Fordonski, the man who I would later marry.  
Conditions were very, very poor; life was very difficult.  The room that we lived in had water on the floor in the mornings.  We had to work very hard to accomplish what we had to do; the rations were very limited.  There was a curfew.  
There were Selections in the Lodz Ghetto all the time.  In 1944, they started to liquidate the Ghetto.  I was put on a cattle car with my sister and coincidentally, with Michael and his mother.  It took us many days and nights, going back and forth, until we arrived at Auschwitz.  
When we arrived to Auschwitz, there was screaming and crying, everyone was looking for each other.  They had a Selection; people were sent to the right and to the left.  
After the Selection, they took us to get a shower.  Coming out of the shower, I was screaming and crying for my sister, Cesia.  All of a sudden, I saw her with a shaved head, looking wild.  But I was happy to see her again.  
We were standing five in a row, we were all naked.  The way I was standing naked, an SS man came from the back and asked me if I was pregnant.  My sister Rivka came running up and said no she’s not pregnant.  She saved my life, if they thought I was pregnant, I would have been sent straight to the gas chamber.
After a short while, my sister Cesia and I were sent to Stutthof.  This is where my older sister Rivka was killed during a Selection.  We had to always show that we were strong, and able and willing to work or else we would be killed.
From Stutthof, Cesia and I were taken to Dresden.  We worked in an ammunition factory for the Germans.  We were at Dresden when it was bombed by the Allies.  I remember the bombings, it was a nightmare.  Night looked like day.  We were able to make it to an underground bunker.  A lot of people were killed as they were not able to make it to safety.
Following the bombing of the city, Cesia and I were taken on a Death March to Theresienstadt.  During the Death March, I said I had had enough and we escaped into the woods.  We hid on a farm near Karlsbad, in a small village called Karlovy Vary until American soldiers came and liberated us.  
I felt that I was starting to live again.  I always believed that there is hope and that we should never give up; I wished for a better tomorrow and it came true.  Even in the worst times, I never gave up.  I was raised, that there is a G-d, and that we have to have hope that things will get better.
After the war ended, Cesia and I went back to Lodz.  I met a friend who was with Michael in a concentration camp, Wistegisdorf Niedershlezien, Germany.  Michael carried corpses to the crematorium; he also worked in a stone quarry breaking rocks.  The friend told me that Michael was not well, that he had Typhus.  He said that Michael was planning to come back to Lodz.  He said that I should wait for him and not meet anyone else.  If someone looked at me, I should look away.  And so I waited for him.  
We were married on December, 1945 in Lodz, Poland
We came to America, to New York in 1950.  We came to seek a better opportunity for the future.  We came to Detroit in 1954 because my sister Cesia and my brother Jack lived here.
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Occupation after the war
Michael Fordonski, Electrician
Sidney, Controller; Sarah Apt, dietitian
Ten grandchildren: Rivka, Avraham, Naomi, Tovah, Shlomo, Chaya, Tzvi, Avraham, Yosef, and Akiva Ten great-grandchildren
What do you think helped you to survive?
The thought that some day, we’ll be free people and we will be able to tell our story, our nightmare to the world.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
They should never give up and they should believe and trust in G-d. We raised good kids, we have naches (gratification).
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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