The Nazis took me from my home at age 14. I never saw my parents again. When I came to America I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know the language and I didn’t know how to get to where I was going

Where are you from?

Near Krakow, Poland

What was it like growing up?

The Nazis took me from my home at age 14. I never saw my parents again. I was eventually taken to the Plaszow concentration camp (in Poland), and, later, the Buchenwald camp in Germany. Eventually, Jews were taken on a death march from the camp to the train station. I did something that they didn’t expect me to do. I fell down, on purpose. As everybody was marched over me, because the guards were pushing, one of the guards punched me in the mouth, and knocked my teeth out. But, I was lucky they didn’t take out their gun to shoot. Soon after, I went back to the camp and blended in with the non-Jews. The following morning, the guards took us to the railroad station, where we boarded a large locomotive that took us to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia. Four or five days later, we were liberated by the Russians. I ended up living in a displaced persons camp in Landsberg, Germany for about two years. There, I went to a night school and learned how to drive. I worked for a motor pool, driving a GMC truck thirty miles twice a week from Landsberg to Augsburg, Germany to bring food and clothing to the people in the camp. I also worked in the camp’s food distribution center.

What brought you to Cleveland?

When I came to Ellis Island at the age of 20, the Jewish Community Center in New York assigned all the incoming survivors a place to live. I was assigned to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where I lived for a little more than two years. While I was there, I got a job stocking shelves at a grocery store. On the weekends, I would spend time in Omaha, Nebraska, where I learned how to do electrical work. After my time in Council Bluffs, I decided to move to Cleveland to be with a girl who I knew from my time in Landsberg. She would later become my wife. Upon arriving in Cleveland, I spent about two years working as an electrical contractor. Then, I opened up my own electrical contracting business (L&S Electric).

What were your first thoughts about coming to America? Did those change?

I wasn’t afraid to go out. I wasn’t afraid. The first act was to be thankful that I was still alive. A miracle helped me get here.

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know the language. I didn’t know how to get to where I was going.

What is your occupation?

Owner of L&S Electric (Retired)

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

I didn’t have any family here. The families my wife knew were very nice, and helped us get an apartment. They helped us to get jobs, so it was helpful.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

Tradition, I believe in. If we have holidays, I like the traditional thinking of what it stands for, but this doesn’t mean that I go and pray for an hour or two to God. I like the tradition, I like the food, but I’m not the type that would run to pray every day or every week. I try to be a decent person. I tell the people about the Holocaust, and tell them that it happened, because we probably have a lot of people today who don’t think it happened. And, my obligation is to go around to schools [and other places] to let them know it did happen.

What do you love about Cleveland?

It’s a nice area with nice people. The Maltz Museum [of Jewish Heritage] does a lot of good. There are a lot of good things going on.

What is your favorite thing to do in Cleveland?

I like enjoying the different seasons. Some of them I like better than the others. I like being with the people who are here.

Why is Global Cleveland a great resource?

If you are establishing a life here, you want to have a good resource, a place that helps you.