August 2, 1987
Running times approximate.
Reviewer: Diane Bareis
Born: Looneyitz (spelled phonetically), Poland.
There were 11,000-12,000 people in this town, with 250-275 Jewish families. There were four synagogues in the town along with a Hebrew school. His father had a dry cleaning and laundry business. He had three brothers and two sisters and one brother emigrated in 1933.
3:00 1939: Everything changed. Anti-semitism came to the town where it once did not exist.
Germany and the Soviet Union divided Poland, the western part of the country coming under German control and the eastern part of the country coming under Soviet control. Life changed, freedoms were lost and synagogues were closed.,
6:35 1941: Blitzkrig brought panic and the Soviet leaders returned to the Soviet Union. Some Jewish people risked their lives trying to escape. William was selected to teach people how to use gas masks and other ways to defend themselves.
His father put him on a train in order to leave and survive and William found himself in the Soviet Union. Upon arrival he was put into a labor battalion. In the meantime, the Germans were pushing toward the Soviet Union.
11:55 They were taken to the Vulga River in order to build a defensive barricade against the Germans. The laborers were not trusted with guns even though they wanted to fight the Nazis.
14:20 William talks about P.O.W.s
The Soviet people experienced the same problems of hunger, fear, and lice.
William talks about Stalin with whom you did not protest or else you would die.
15:45 Over 200 German planes dropped bombs at one time.
17:30 William talks about a move to Kiev. The Red Army went on to liberate Bucharest, Budapest in 1945.
18:22 William discusses the observation of Yom Kippur in Stalingrad. A Jewish officer shared of his tradition of Yom Kippur before the 1917 revolution and he gave William what he needed to observe Yom Kippur.
21:40 After the war, William left the Soviet Union to go home. He returned to find his father’s home sold by the local government at the price of one and one-half liters of vodka. The place had been looted and William could not find any addresses for relatives in the U.S.
26:00 When the Germans originally came into the community, they called the Jewish leaders together to form committees and to see to it that the people went to work. They were also called to collect the silver, gold and excess clothing in the community.
29:00 The Jews were forced into the woods where they dug their own graves and were murdered. One woman who was not fatally wounded climbed out of the grave and survived to tell this story at the trial of Adolf Eichman.
33:50 William shows a family photo that he found in the U.S.
He learned that his two sister had perished.
35:35 William tells of his decision to go to Warsaw where he sought help from organizations to find surviving relatives. Groups of Jews were organizing for an exodus to Palestine.
Groups of children, ages 8 to 19, gathered together in hopes of making their way to Palestine. One girl made the sign of the cross before eating. William realized that she was a survivor because she had been in a convent. She began to assume a non-Jewish identity. William joined the group and became a leader among them.
The group experienced anti-Semitism along the way. Three shots came into a window and one girl from his group was shot. Ironically, she had survived the death camp only to be shot and killed after the war.
44:00 William tells the story of how he helped lead his group across the border to Czechoslovakia, posing as Greeks heading back to Salonika.. They moved on to Austria.
51:00 Classes were organized to teach the group Hebrew.
William tells the story of meeting his future wife within the group. They were married in Italy by a rabbi and local officials. In Italy the group received an order to load onto a boat. British planes discovered them and sent the group to a camp in Cyprus, then on to Palestine. William had finished his mission.
57:00 William found himself in the Israeli Army where there was not enough ammunition and there were not enough guns. In 1948 during the war of independence he determined that he would go to the U.S. It took him seven and one-half years to accomplish this. He and his wife gave birth to two sons while in Israel.
1:00:08 Senator Joseph McCarthy fought against immigration; lead to the delay in his arrival.
William and his family arrived in Columbus in 1954. Their third son was born there.
William tells of a fortieth year reunion with the group that traveled to Palestine.
1:05:45 William tells of living in the U.S. without knowing at first how to speak English. He speaks of his appreciation for being a U.S. citizen and how freedom should not be taken for granted.
He states his appreciation for the efforts of the Holocaust Survivor Committee in Columbus, noting the importance of sharing these stories so an event such as this will never happen again.