Sally Horwitz

"Not to give up. Whatever happens, just don’t give up, and think positive, this too shall pass.  They hate us anyway, but we’re here, they can’t get rid of us and they never will.   All the survivors’ children are educated, free, high achievers.  We saw opportunities for them to go to school here.  Look at what’s going on in Israel, what they achieve there.      "

Name at birth
Sala Finkelstein
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Zwolen, Poland
Name of father, occupation
Aryah Laib Finkelstein, Builder, furniture maker
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Esther Kerczberg, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
My bubby Rochel Kerczberg, my parents and five kids: Malka, Frania (Frayda), me (Sally), Leah and Aaron Mayer
How many in entire extended family?
We had lot of aunts and uncles. My bubby was very proud that everyone married well and all of the men had good jobs. It was a large extended family but I am not sure of the total number. All of us mostly lived in Zwolen.
Who survived the Holocaust?
My sisters Malka and Frayda and me and one cousin who was in the Polish Army who later went to Israel to fight in the War of Independence.
We had a Bubby (grandmother in Yiddish) who lived with us, Rochel Kerczberg.  She moved in with my parents when they got married.  She was a great story teller; she was funny, and beautiful.   It’s too bad that grandparents don’t live with families anymore.  She used to tell us ghost stories in the winter.  We had a very peaceful house.  Our parents never hit us or yelled at us.  When we would act up, Bubby would put her finger in the air and say “Er hert dos!” (G-d hears this!)  My dad was 6’ 4” and was very gentle.  
My mom had a lot of non-Jewish friends, very intelligent friends.  She always helped the neighbors.  A lot of them risked their lives for us.  In school they taught us first aid, how to bandage a wound.  I remember finding a band aid and playing war with my friend when I was 11 years old.  Then my friend’s mother started screaming that they’re actually bombing.  There were firebombs all over the place, wooden houses were on fire.  When the bombing stopped I couldn’t find my parents so I ran to my uncle’s bakery which was a brick building and my family was there.  We were all living on “pins and needles.”  
At noon time, the planes were bombing again.  They were so low you could see the pilots’ faces.  They were mowing people down as we were running to the woods.  We stayed overnight in the woods and my dad covered us up with branches.  They were bombing the woods.  We went to a village with Folksdeutsch, Germans who lived in the area.  A woman let us into her home and she started to cook for us.  There were a lot of us in her home.  She was holding a baby and my mom helped her feed the baby.  
When we went back to Zwolen, the Germans were separating the Jews and non-Jews.  There were dead people and dead horses everywhere.  The Germans gave us shovels to dig ditches and bury all of the dead.  We also had to find a place to stay.  One of my mom’s sisters-in-law’s houses was still standing and we stayed with them.  At night we had to lock everything up.  The Germans came knocking on the door.  We ran to the yard and hid in a room that was used before as a safe place from the Cossacks.  The Germans opened up the door, but the smell was so awful that they went away and didn’t find us.
My mom told someone to take my little brother and hide.  We moved in with someone.  The Germans were grabbing people to go to work, to pick potatoes.  People were getting very sick with diarrhea.  
The Germans would shoot people randomly.  I was more afraid of the non-Jewish kids pointing us out than the Germans.  They would say, “Jude, Jude” (Yuda, Yuda or Jew, Jew).  I was quite blonde, but I was afraid the Polish kids would identify us as Jews.  
My mom said to go find Bubby Gittel (my dad’s mother).  Dad was hiding in the village where Bubby Gittel lived.  I was fond of my dad and started to cry because I wanted to see him.  I went with them at night; Bubby knew a lot of the peasants.   
I remember one day seeing a shadow, it was a beautiful day.  A soldier asked “Who are you?  Where did you come from?”  He pointed to me and said wait here.  I got scared to be out in the open.  My friend said “I’ll hide with you” and we ran up into an attic.  The soldier came back and shouted, “Where is that Jew?” and the kids yelled back, “We don’t know.”  No one gave me away.  I ran back to my sister.  When I got back to my mother she said the Germans shot all of the Jewish people I was with.  Someone was always watching over me.  
My mom didn’t know what happened to her mother-in-law.  When I found Bubby, her arm was in a sling.  The Germans broke her arm.  My grandfather was very upset.  She started to cry; I got scared and ran home.  Bubby was such a nice woman; she always had a candy for me.  I never saw her again.  
It was Succos (Jewish harvest festival) time, Bubby Rochel died before this, thank G-d.  We had to line up and march.  It was horrible, horrible, horrible.  Beating, shooting the old people; challenged people were in the back.  One of my mother’s friends was pregnant.  Her name was Rochel, she was big already and wore her father’s trench coat.  My mom made a thing to protect her so the Germans couldn’t see her pregnant belly.  
We marched to the trains and they made us sit on the ground.  There were Polish women across the way with a bucket of water, selling water.  
Before in Zwolen, Mom had friends, the Morjinkski’s.  She always tried to give us something, potatoes.  We went to her house, Frania and me.  She had two plates of pork chops, mashed potatoes, and peas.  I thought I’d choke (because of the non-kosher food).  
She said please children you’ll never see a meal like this again.  There were good people who tried to help us.  She had two little girls.  She was afraid the neighbors would squeal on her and kill her children.  
Back at the trains we were all sitting together and you could smell the chlorine from the cattle cars.  An SS officer was looking at us and my mom said for me to get behind her.  An SS officer picked me out to work on a farm, my mom sent Frania with me.  They picked out fourteen girls to go.  
We picked potatoes from sunrise to sunset.  I was always lucky, always lucky with people.  One of the Polish foremen, Glogatch, would have his wife bring him lunch.  He would say after this is over, they will kill you but my wife wants to adopt you.  He said he would hide me but I wanted to be with my sister.   
I was a wanderer.  I needed go to get salt.  I took my time to get it.  They counted all of us and could see I was missing.  I returned to a rifle to my head. Glogatch sees this and grabs the soldiers arm and he shot in the air.  I said I wonder what it would be like to be dead, and then I hear that shot.  Glogatch told the soldier that he sent me to get salt.  
I was always picked for some reason. While at the potato farm the Germans came and took forty people in a truck.  They picked me and I said my sisters must come too and they let them.  My friend came too; I said she is my sister, the rest of the people we never saw again.  My girlfriend Chanczah who is in Israel now and says I saved her life.  
The forty of us on the truck went to Skarzysko-Kamienna. They lined us up, and there were huge machines.  They were making bullets. A German soldier would not let anyone take me and my sisters. He said these are mine.   People were getting sick form typhus.  Me too.  I was out of it, I was a skeleton, and I had no food. 
A German lady SS officer comes in and I see a sandwich flying toward me. We had no lunch, dishwater was better.   She said eat this.  I put it on my lap and gave some to my two sisters and I took a piece.
I got into trouble all the time.  One time they woke us up and said get out, get out.  They made us watch a man being hanged and left him there for days and nights. There he is hanging. I had nightmares-take me off, take me off.
I was very sick and hallucinated that I was sitting and eating my mom’s food. In my mind, that’s not me, I’m sitting there, eating my mom’s meal.  
The Russians were coming in 1944.  They woke us up in the middle of the night.  They took one of my sisters and I start to cry.  The soldier asks why are you crying and I say my sisters, my sisters.   He picks me up hands me to my sisters.  All the others they took to a death march.  If I didn’t open my big mouth, I would have been on a death march.
We went to Czestochowa, another factory that was much better, Jewish people were there in three areas.  The Russians are getting closer and by January 15 the Russians are there.  We were liberated. The first thing to do is go back to Zwolen to find my daddy.  
We got back to Zwolen and my house was still standing. The lady living there took us in.  A maid gave us food and we bathed.  First time we slept in a bed with pillows. The lady told us you have to go, this is mine now.  She told me some Jews are hiding in the woods.  I was with my friend, Chanczah too.  The Germans were gone, but Poles were killing Jews
I got a train to go back to Czestochowa, everybody was traveling.   I was on a train and a lady said “I thought Hitler killed them all.”  We had to get out of Poland.
In Germany, I felt a hand on my shoulder and a man noticed that I could write Yiddish.  Of all people, I was picked to write down all of the information for people looking for their families. Some of the men who were looking for their families had left their wives and children and now their wives were with other men.  I told the women when I knew their husbands were looking for them.  One said “He left me with children and now he wants me back?”
My two sisters were married in Germany. My oldest sister’ husband, Leon Glick watched over me.  A Mr. Pepper could get papers to come to the USA.  I wanted to go to Israel all by myself, but Leon would not let me.  My sister and her family left for the USA the day before me. 
I got to New York and then took the train to New Haven.  I needed a job and JFS helped me find one in a New Haven bakery.  I was good with people and spoke many languages.  My future husband saw me working in the bakery and wanted to go out with me.  My brother-in-law checked him out to make sure he was ok.
I felt my mom was always watching over me.  Years after the Holocaust, I came home after having a heart operation.  I am sleeping and I can’t breath; Bubby Rochel and my mom are screaming at me to breathe.  I woke up.  I sat up.  What happened?  
Later I had a neck operation on my carotid artery.  I couldn’t move and my mom was wiping a table, smiling, saying come back.   She was watching over me.  
Recently something unbelievable happened, I fell asleep going in to a light tunnel.  Bubby and mom were on other side saying go back, go back.  I was floating back and the doctor said, “She’s back. “
A friend was telling me same story of a near death experience, I was floating. 
I can’t figure it out but somebody is protecting me.  
My reason for living: my three children, my nine grandchildren, and my six great-grandchildren.  All of them are named after my family.       
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Where did you go after being liberated?
First back to Zwolen until we realized the Poles were still killing the Jews. I ran for my life after we left Zwolen, Poland. We went to Czechoslovakia, went to Czestochowa then to Bamberg, Germany and stayed in a private house. We walked through Austria. Many young girls got together in Bamberg and we lived in a house.
When did you come to the United States?
Where did you settle?
New Haven, CT and then Detroit, Michigan in 2005
How is it that you came to Michigan?
2005, my children wanted me to be with them after my heart operation
Occupation after the war
Owner, ladies clothing store
When and where were you married?
1950 in New Haven
Morton Robert Horwitz, Retail, insurance, stock broker, newspaperman
Leonard Joseph, physician, works at the Cleveland Clinic, hematologist and oncologist Arthur Myron, newspaper publisher Detroit Jewish News Laurie Ellen Duhan, CPA
Nine grandchildren: Chaya Sara, Dov, Michael, Ari, Daniel, Adam, Stephanie; Drew, and Alison Six great-grandchildren: Avi, Rochel, Leah, Yitzchak, Esther, and Aaron
What do you think helped you to survive?
Will power, my father, I have to find my father, my father would need me. I thought I would see my father and my little brother again. I thought he must be in some camp.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Not to give up. Whatever happens, just don’t give up, and think positive, this too shall pass.  They hate us anyway, but we’re here, they can’t get rid of us and they never will.   All the survivors’ children are educated, free, high achievers.  We saw opportunities for them to go to school here.  Look at what’s going on in Israel, what they achieve there.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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