Sam (Anszel) Gun

"Try to teach in the schools what happened so young people will understand better to be liberal with each other. Humanity is for everybody. Live a free life.  Hopefully we can accomplish it.                 "

Name at birth
Anzsel Gun
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Rozyszcze, Poland
Name of father, occupation
Szmul Gun, Merchant
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Sonia Apel, Worked with husband
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents , me, Reizel(b. 1927) and Jack (b. 1934). Also a Jewish orphan named Milka (30 -40 years old) lived with the family
Who survived the Holocaust?
Jack, a cousin Szika (the Soviets gave him a job in a hospital in Russia due to my father's good relations with the Soviets) and me'
Our family was very well off; we had a ten bedroom house. In 1939, when I was 15 and my brother Jack was 5, the Nazis came in and split Poland with the Soviets.  We were in the eastern portion, which went to the Soviets.  After the Russians took over, we were allowed to go back to school again.  I attended the local high school.  The rich Jewish families were all sent to Siberia, however we were allowed to stay because of the good relations my father had with the Soviets.  My father was a Socialist and helped out many Soviet causes as well as needy Russians.  He was also active with the MOPAR organization and helped communists who were in jail until the Soviets freed them.  The Russians nationalized our home, but we were allowed to stay and had a decent life.
In June, 1941, the Nazis attacked Russia and took over the town.  They took away our home and we had to move to a ghetto set up on the other side of town.  We were fortunate because one of the workers in my father’s fabric store lived in that area and so we were able to have better accommodations than the most – four families in a three bedroom apartment.   The Nazis organized the Judenrat (Jewish Councils established on German orders) and police.  They would call people to work – a lot of manual labor such as cleaning streets and construction that the people weren’t used to.  There were a lot of beatings and killings every day.  At that time, my father gave a friend of the family, a Czech named Jaruszka, all of our valuables to hold onto.
After four months, we found work on a farm outside of the ghetto, lucky once again to people that my father knew.  The first thing we were able to get was food.  After working on the farm for about one year and three months, we started to hear rumours that the ghettos in Luck and Vilna were being liquidated so my father sent my sister (now 14 years old) to the Czech.  She was young and homesick and after three weeks she made the terrible mistake of coming back home. 
One day while my father, brother and I were at the farm, our ghetto, Rozyszcze, was being liquidated.  All workers outside of the ghetto were being called back.  My father didn’t want to leave my mother and sister so he went back.  Many others returned also.  My brother, Jack and I hid in a hay stack.  The last words my father said to us were “maybe you will escape and maybe you will live”.  Patrols that night were poking into our haystack but we were not discovered.  
Down the road, we knew a Gentile man so we climbed the fence of the farm and hid in his barn.  We were trying to get into the attic when we heard noises coming from above.  Three Jews from the farm were already hiding up there so they helped us up.
It was August 22, 1942 when the ghetto was liquidated.  Transports were going back and forth.  Flyers were being handed out trying to catch Jews.  Because of this, the Gentile said we could stay until evening, but then we must leave.  I said this guy means business and that we all need to leave.  The other three wanted to stay and did.  Jack and I were going to go to see the Czech, but we had no idea how to get to his town.  One of the three Jews was a buggy driver and so he told us how to get there.  It was a big mistake to tell them where we were going.  The distance was fifteen miles and it took us all night to get there.  After four miles, Jack, who was only a small boy, was too tired to continue so I carried him on my back the rest of the way.  We knocked on the first door we came to and it was the Czech!  We would have had no idea how to find him.  He told us to go into the corn fields, which were still high and wait until the next day.  
The next day, the three Jews showed up in Uzova and found the Czech.  Just as I thought, the farmer had kicked them out in the daylight.  The Czech told them to look after the kids and they agreed.  Instead of staying in the corn fields with us, they went into the woods beyond the fields.  After the corn harvest, we too went to the woods.  All together, there were forty total in the woods.  I met a friend and his brother and the four of us decided to build a bunker in the corn field because it was getting cold in the woods.  There was also another man and his daughter with us.  
After one month, we spoke to the Czech.  He was in good with the Germans and was hunting with one of them one day.  The German saw the bunker so Jack and I needed to leave it, but we would not be able to survive the winter.  The Czech spoke to a Ukrainian about helping, but previously, I met a tailor who knew someone who would take us in.  We paid him from our family’s money with the Czech.  But he kept wanting more and more, so we left without saying why.
We then went to the Ukrainian, Jan Primus, who had a wife and two daughters, one named Olga.  He was a very nice man.  I tried to find him after the war.  We paid them to stay the first winter and in April, we went back out to the woods and corn fields.  The following winter we came back to them.  
All the while though, the tailor’s friend who had let us stay with him, wanted to know why we left. So he sent the tailor looking for us.  A friend of mine from the woods told the tailor where we were.  The tailor’s friend came to Primus with a village elder and demanded suits for the all the village elders and himself.  If we obliged, they would not kill us.  We paid them what they wanted and they never came back.  After that incident, Primus said that if anyone else ever shows up at the house, we must kill them.
One day I was walking on the road when I ran into two Ukrainian policemen who had guns and knew I was a Jew by my dress.  They could have killed me on the spot but they were more afraid if there were more Jews hiding to ambush them so they let me go.  
In 1944, the Russians arrived.
After liberation, I went back to our family home, but what was I going to do?  What kind of job was I going to get?  I ended up taking a job with the NKVD (similar to the Russian KGB).  Around that time I contracted typhus. 
A friend of my sister told me to lie about my age because the war was still going on and the Russians were still drafting young men into the army.  I couldn’t lie because the KGB knew my age, but since I worked with them, they trusted me and gave me three days to gather my belongings. Instead I took off.  The KGB got my brother in the middle of the night to interrogate him about my whereabouts.  I went to a town on the border of Ukraine and Poland and a guy stopped me in the middle of the street and asked if I was my father’s son.  He knew my father - a miracle.  He was working for the repatriation committee sending people from Poland back to Ukraine and vice versa.  Since I could have still been spotted by the NKVD, I got papers and went to Lublin.  
I found the Jewish Committee and met a teacher from my hometown’s public school.  My brother Jack was picked up later.  We had a normal life.  I sold things on the black market to earn a living.  I met my wife in Lublin.  We followed the liberators to Liège where I got sick again.  I knew about the Polish pogroms.  
I had a friend in the Bricha – an agency designed to smuggle Jews out of Poland to Palestine.  As we approached Austria, we got stuck in the Lintz DP camp.  My wife became a teacher, and I became an administrator.  This was 1945-1947.
Name of Ghetto(s)
Where were you in hiding?
Farms, fields, barns, and woods around Poland and later in a town on the border of Ukraine and Poland.
What DP Camp were you after the war?
Yes, Lintz DP camp
Where did you settle?
My wife had relatives in New York, but she also had an uncle in Detroit and he insisted that we go there, where we lived for thirty years. He had a scrap yard.
Occupation after the war
Business owner of Marcus Auto Parts and Scrap Metal
Manya Wilenczyk, Teacher and homemaker
Binnie, a doctor of Psychology in Cleveland Sam, attorney in Detroit Sherry, school principal in Cleveland
Seven: David and Benjamin (Binnie); Alissa, Adam and Ariel (Sherry); and Ilana and Lauren (Sam)
What do you think helped you to survive?
Will of Life. When you are young, the will of life is so strong. Fight to live.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Try to teach in the schools what happened so young people will understand better to be liberal with each other. Humanity is for everybody. Live a free life.  Hopefully we can accomplish it.                 
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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