Where was your husband during the war? (continued)
My husband had an uncle here in America and an uncle in Israel; both of them wanted him to come live with them. Being that his uncle in America was richer, he was able to travel to Europe to pick him up. When he was ninety percent cured of hepatitis, they allowed him to leave and he came to the United States with his uncle.
When he arrived in the U.S., he wanted to live on his own. He rented an apartment on the West Side of Manhattan. During the day he attended Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. He went to night school to learn the English language.
In 1953, during the Korean hostilities, since he was already an American citizen, he was called to serve in the army. His uncle wanted to have him exempt, but my husband felt that if he was summoned he would go. Although they tried to dissuade him, he insisted that this is what he wanted to do. He was sent to Louisiana where he was given a desk job. He was there for two years before returning to New York.
Once you were married how did you support yourselves?
We got married in the Windermere Hotel in Manhattan, three days before Chanukah, in 1958. Rabbi Moses Steinberg, the Rav of a shul on the West Side of Manhattan, was the mesader kiddushin.
After we got married, my husband worked in a metal business in lower Manhattan on Canal Street. In the beginning of our marriage, I joined him in the business. However, we decided that it wasn’t the best thing for us to work together, so I got a job in the First National Citibank. I worked from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., so that I never had a problem with Shabbos.
How do you think your experiences affected how you raised your children?
My children are astounded that I still save every scrap of food. I don’t even use garbage bags, I use only a regular shopping bag that I get from the grocery store. I don’t use disposable dishes because I feel that it’s like throwing money in the garbage. To this day, I won’t take a Polish cleaning lady, and I try not to buy German and Polish products. This is how I raised my children; but my children are raising their children differently.
Although my husband suffered from depression sometimes, my children grew up in a regular environment, and they had a good life. My parents were very involved in their upbringing and saw to it that my children had a good life.
Did you ever return home?
I never wanted to return to Poland or Germany. I was simply afraid to go back. However, after my grandfather passed away in 1953, a letter was sent to my cousin with my grandfather’s signature, stating that his house had been sold. The family hired a lawyer to protest this, and about four years ago they asked me to travel to Poland to testify in Polish that this was true. I met my son in the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, and we traveled together to Warsaw, Poland. Here we met up with a gentile guide who was sent by our Polish lawyer. We toured Poland, Auschwitz and Birkenau. I went to the cemeteries, although my son is a Kohen and he can’t go. We won the case, and we got our house back.
What message would you like to impart to future generations?
A person must always have emunah. Give each other chizuk and try to keep together. Avoid family rivalry and keep harmony in the family. Have achdus and be patient until Moshiach comes.
to be continued…
These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.