By Jordan Wax
Your grandfather (or Zaidy) was born in Krakow, Poland on July 31, 1926. He was the youngest of 11 children. When he was 13 years old, the Nazi’s invaded Poland.
They rounded up the Jews and imprisoned them in the Krakow ghetto. Zaidy escaped and went into hiding in the forest. He would sneak back to the ghetto to smuggle food for his family. If he was caught smuggling, he would have been executed.
He was eventually discovered in the forest, and was sent to Auschwitz. Auschwitz is a death camp, where over 1 million people were killed, mostly in the gas chambers. While Zaidy did not speak much about his experience, because he did not want to burden us with his pain, he did say that he survived only because others helped him.
When he came off the cattle car at Auschwitz, he was ordered to go “left”. He did not know it then, but “left” led directly to the gas chambers. A young German soldier saved him, by purposely pushing Zaidy out of that line and into the right. Zaidy never forgot that kindness. He survived both Auschwitz and the forced Death March, and was finally liberated in April, 1945. Soon after, he learned that his entire family had been killed.
Your Zaidy did not give up, he came to Canada, as a refugee sponsored by Canadian Jewish Congress. Two days after arriving, he had a job, refusing the money offered to him as a refugee, because he believed others needed it more. He had lost his family in Poland, but he created a new family out of his Canadian friends.
We met in 1964, on a blind date, and were soon married with our own family. While Zaidy never really spoke in detail about his experience in the Holocaust, he made sure that his family understood the importance of always remembering what had happened, so it could never happen again. “Never forget,” he would say. He spoke out against hate, and made sure that we realized that Canada is the “best place on Earth”. He gave us a strong sense of family, loyalty and kindness to others. #Neverforget #Ourhero