Phyllis Kolnierz

"Be happy with what you have and thank G-d for what you have.  Be healthy."

Name at birth
Feigele Eizenberg
Name of father, occupation
Mordechai (Motel), Owned a tannery.
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Leah Wurman, Homemaker.
Immediate family (names, birth order)
My parents and six children: Bracha, Yitzchak Yoel, Menashe, Feigela (me), Esther, and Chanala.
How many in entire extended family?
Large extended family.
Who survived the Holocaust?
The two oldest siblings: Sister Bracha and brother Isidor (Izzy), and myself.
Bracha settled in Israel after the war, Yitzchak Yoel settled in Detroit, Menashe died in a concentration camp, Esther perished at Sobibor death camp, Chanala was 3 or 4 years old when she died in a concentration camp together with our mother Leah.  

My sister Bracha and her husband Shika went to Russia before the war.  They wound up in Siberia and went to Israel in the 1950’s.  

I don’t want to remember the bad times, so I rarely tell the stories.  The house we lived in before the war had a beautiful red floor.  My father was a tanner.  We would get the skins from the butcher and my father would tan and make leather for clothing.  

When the Germans first came knocking on the door, they immediately killed our German Shepherd dog.  We were taken to a concentration camp. I worked in a bullet factory and needed a stool to reach the machine.  Once I felt so ill I could not work that day… a German soldier did not report me…and that helped save my life.  Izzy and I had been separated for a time (Izzy was in Germany and I was still in Poland)….when he found out that I was alive, Izzy came to Poland to take me to the DP camp with him in Bergen-Belsen.  He was an important man, as he says, “a big shot”, as he was head of all the food distribution at the camp.  Izzy also helped save my life several times; once when I was in line pass, he had to sneak the pass to me…not sure what the pass was for.  I also saved his life by passing fruits or vegetables through the fence as I worked in the garden.  

After the war, I continued to live at the DP camp, taken care of by the British.  

Izzy and I had met at the DP camp as I worked in the same office as he did.  I had family in Detroit and Izzy followed me to Detroit.  I followed as well, maybe half a year or one year later. 
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Occupation after the war
I worked as a receptionist/booker for a manufacturing company, and after marriage, worked a graveyard shift at a nursing home, for about ten years, until the mid 1960’s, then was a homemaker.
Abraham, Paint contractor.
Two daughters, Linda and Bonnie.
Henri Medwed.
What do you think helped you to survive?
I don’t know, a miracle, G-d helped us.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Be happy with what you have and thank G-d for what you have.  Be healthy.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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