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Joseph Alexander - Holocaust Survivor
Joe was born in 1922 in Kowal, Poland. He and his family enjoyed a comfortable life until Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939. At the beginning of the war, Joe’s family fled and joined other relatives in the town of Blonie. In late 1940, Blonie’s Jews were transported to the Warsaw Ghetto. Joe’s father bribed some guards to let Joseph and two of his siblings escape back to Kowal. This was the last time he saw the rest of his family. From Kowal, Joe was sent to 12 different concentration camps including Dachau and Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, he was sent from Auschwitz back to the Warsaw Ghetto to clean up the destruction’s aftermath. When Joe arrived at Auschwitz, his left forearm was tattooed with the number 14284. As the Polish Home Army advanced towards Warsaw, Joe was sent to camps in Germany, and then on a death march. He was liberated by American troops in 1945. He immigrated to the United States in 1949 where he married and had two children.
David Lenga - Holocaust Survivor
I was born in Lodz, Poland on December 3rd, 1927 into a rather large orthodox Jewish family. My parents ; Abraham and Sarah Lenga, were living a more modern orthodox lifestyle than my grandparents. I had a 4 years younger brother Nathan. Our first language we’re exposed to and learned was Yiddish. It became my and my brother’s “ Mamma- Loshen."
We had a wonderful childhood. My Father was a businessman and owner of a large Tannery, in the small town of Strykow, (18 km. south of Lodz). By the time I was 4 years old, I had to learn to speak Polish, and so I became bi-lingual. Throughout my 5 years of public education, I was an “ A “ student. Because I had a great thirst for learning, I loved going to school.
My parents also sent me to “Cheder," Jewish religious school, where I got my Jewish education. My brother Nathan and I, grew up in a very loving and caring family. My mother and dad adored us, but raised us with a firm hand, yet a tender, loving heart. They imbued us with life-values so strong, that they became our guiding compass later on in life. I was always an outgoing boy, and surrounded myself with many close friends. My loving parents took us every year on summer vacations in the countryside, where we frolicked, climbing fruit trees and enjoying the fresh fruits, etc. All this wonderful life came to an abrupt end, on September 1st, 1939. I was then only 11 years old, when Hitler’s army brutally overran and invaded Poland. My life then entered a Nightmare. What followed, in short, was persecution, brutality towards the Jewish people, separation of families, incarceration in Ghettos, deportations to slave labor camps, and exterminations in camps like Auschwitz, Dachau, and Kaufering. I went through 6 years of living Hell of war. I survived by the skin of my teeth, and by sheer luck. I lost my entire family which, including my extended family, numbered close to 100 people ! I was so fortunate to find out later, after liberation, that my dear Dad also survived. Only two survivors out of 100. I was liberated by the American Army on May 5th, 1945. I was only 17 years old.