Novice (Sosnowicz), Samuel (Shmuel)
Ostrowiec (Poland), Warsaw, Tarnov, Auschwitz, Buchenwald
Mr. Novice was born in 1922. His name was Shmuel Sosnowicz and he lived in Ostrowiec, Poland. He lived with his parents, his father, his mother Ruzha, brothers Israel and Yitzchak and one other brother and a sister on Kogista Street.
When the war broke out, he was seventeen. His brothers were 15, 9 and 5 and his sister was 7.
His father was 42 and mother was 38.
He started going to cheder when he was 4 and began Talmudic studies when he was 7.
When the Germans came in 1939, they left orders on walls saying that Jews should not go out after 6 p.m. They had to wear armbands with a blue Jewish star. There were shootings and beatings, Jews being attacked every single day and synagogues were burned on a daily basis.
By 1941, the Judenrat was assembling Jews for deportation and people were starving. Young boys were being kidnapped for slave labor. German shepherd dogs were eating the corpses on the streets.
During this time he was beaten by Polish anti-Semites. The ghetto was established in Ostrowiec where children were starving and swollen. There was no food at all.
Workers were delivered to the Germans every day to work on the roads and build fence posts.
He was then seventeen and made himself a pass and hid his armband. He was beaten by the Poles repeatedly and described this as a “living Hell.”
The Germans brought to the ghetto thousands of people at a time where they were packed like sardines and, if lucky, had one bowl of soup a day.
He went to the Warsaw ghetto where he saw children and parents dying on the streets. He smuggled out his cousin. Brutality became much worse when the Russians came.
He went on a train to Tarnov to buy materials and saw Jews being burnt by the Poles. 1942 was an even more brutal year: Jews had to give up all possessions and Jews from Galicia were being sent to Treblinka to the ovens.
Mr. Novice and one of his brothers were supposed to work in factories. His family was left behind, hidden in a basement, but when he returned, they were gone.
On the first day of deportation, thousands were burned in one grave. He and his brother ran, but were captured by the SS.
In 1944, all of his family was dead except for him, one brother and a cousin. He was made to watch hangings in Auschwitz. Names were called out, followed by two hours of hangings. To escape a living hell, people threw themselves against the wired fences and were instantly electrocuted.
He was driven to Buchenwald where his brother died of starvation. He witnessed Mengele’s selections three times.
Mr. Novice now lives in Toronto and has a wife, Magda, two daughters and a son, Fred, who is a dermatologist in Bloomfield, Michigan. They have many grandchildren.
His motto is “Teach all people survival skills.”
Format: Video recording