A Holocaust Survivor’s Gripping Story

 

Special thanks to Israel365’s donors who support Holocaust survivors with us.

Our donors support therapies for Holocaust survivors throughout the Land of Israel suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other cognitive disorders. 

These therapies increase survivors’ physical and emotional quality of life. In many cases, the therapies slow their cognitive decline.

David is one of the many survivors Israel365’s donors help. You have to read his gripping Holocaust survival story:

My name is David. My parents were Haim and Rachel. I grew up in Slomniki, Poland, about 12 miles from Crakow, with four brothers and a sister. 

My father was a grain trader, and my mother a housewife. We were a poor family but respected as having strong Jewish values and joy in life. We had solid religious faith and were members of the Gur Hasidic group.

In the city where I lived, there were many Polish boys whose relationships with the Jewish boys were not friendly. I remember fights among the boys, mainly motivated by anti-Semitism.

I was about 11 years old when the Germans invaded Poland. My parents and sister had already been taken from our home even before the war broke out! I never saw them again. That left us four boys to fend for ourselves.

My oldest brother took care of us while my next oldest made some money to support us by selling animal skins to the German soldiers. After some time, my best friend Zev and I fled on foot to a place called Jultag but did not stay long. We wanted to return home to Slomniki, but we didn’t know what awaited us. 

When I returned home, my house was locked and sealed, and all the Jews had been gathered in the town square, surrounded by Nazi soldiers with guns. I saw my brother in the gathering and started to run toward them. My oldest brother signaled me to run away. I tried again to go to them, but my brother threw a large stone at me with a note, “David, get out of here, run away and save yourself. I know my fate. Save yourself.” And that’s how my brother saved my life.

So I ran to a Christian neighbor who remembered my father, who had helped her, and she gave me some food. But I was eventually turned into the Nazis by a different neighbor, who thought he and his family would be saved by giving me up. 

The Nazis sent me to the Plaszow concentration camp under the command of the well-known sadist Amon Goth, who Ralph Fiennes portrayed in the movie Schindler’s List. 

The camp was a HELL; I saw how Amon Goth would shoot at people just for his pleasure; I saw the shooting pits where Jews were thrown into and shot. 

One day, after contracting typhus and pneumonia, I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I was in a cold bath where a camp nurse hid me. I eventually recovered, thank God.

Then I was transferred to the Ostrowiec labor camp. There, I worked sorting confiscated Jewish property. 

In September 1944, I was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau. As I came off the cattle car, I saw the Nazis selecting who would work and who would go to the gas chambers. I stood on my tiptoes to appear taller and was chosen for the work crew.

A few months later, we were taken on a death march. For nine days in January 1945, we walked in deep snow wearing only striped pajamas and wooden shoes. We weren’t allowed to stop walking during the day. Many of us were shot or froze to death.

We finally arrived in Buchenwald. For some reason, God kept me alive. There, I surprisingly met my old friend Zev and one of the rabbis, Rabbi Schecter, from Slomniki. 

Crying, Rabbi Schecter said, “I have traveled all over Poland and did not find a single Jewish child, and now that I am in Buchenwald, I see so many Jewish children!”

When the war was over, and Buchenwald was liberated, I went by train with a group of children to Switzerland. I spent four years in Switzerland receiving care from the Red Cross. From there, I went to Engelberg, where I continued my education at a Jewish-run technical school and graduated as a metal technician. 

In 1949, I finally arrived in Israel. I joined and served in the IDF. After my service, I worked as a metal technician and later worked for the Israeli government. 

I married Julia, a beautiful, kind-hearted refugee from one of the Libyan Jewish communities. We had three children. After seven years of marriage, with three children under the age of 6, Julia died of a severe illness. 

I have remained a widower ever since.

I was 11 when the war began and 17 when the Buchenwald camp was liberated. I lived with fear, hopelessness, and grief for over five years. I lost a beautiful wife to illness, but thank God I live in Israel with my children and grandchildren.

– David

 

Please take a moment to watch this short video about Shoshana, our Guardian of Israel, who runs the Holocaust survivors’ care center that Israel365’s donors support.  

Donate below and select “Make this donation monthly,” or click here to join the Guardians of Israel monthly program!

 

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