Lodz (Poland), Nowy Korczyn, Sandomierz
Mr. Rubin was born in Lodz Poland. His father was a hotel owner and Mr. Rubin had two brothers and two sisters.
Jewish life before the war was free, Jews were observant, went to synagogue and wore their talesim. He was not a religious man, but was an observant Jew. The only anti-Semitic incident in his early life took place during a parade when he spotted some signs saying “Down with the Jew.”
Before the war, he went to high school and had planned to work in the family hotel. He began to hear about the war in September, 1939. Rumors spread that Jewish men would be “taken away.” Upon hearing this, the family left for Warsaw, walking all the way, while German planes were shooting at them. Hundreds were killed.
When the borders re-opened, they went back to Lodz, but found that the Germans had taken away their hotel. Mr. Rubin’s married sister gave birth to a baby boy, but because it was dangerous, no rabbi would come for the circumcision, so the family went to the rabbi’s house.
The family left once again for Nowy Korczyn, his father’s hometown. It was difficult there, as there was no money to pay for work. They lived from day to day by clearing the roads and removing snow.
In October of 1942, the town was surrounded by Germans with large dogs. They knocked on windows screaming “Out.” Each child was given a roll of money and all were taken to the square for “selection.” Sigmund and his brothers were selected and everyone else was marched away.
Their first job was to clean out all the houses, art, furniture, clothing, etc. and put everything in storage.
He was then sent on a truck to Kielce, but because he couldn’t find his brothers, he jumped off the truck. The President of the Jewish Community of Kielce promised them safety. His brothers were found working at a munitions factory.
Next they were sent to Sandomierz, packed in cattle cars with his brothers and one girl. They all jumped the train, his brothers before him. Sigmund searched for them but became lost in a forest. He circled for one day and finally found a nice farmer who took him to Rakow.
Then he returned to Nowy Korczyn and paid women to hide him. The girl he was with eventually became his wife. Her name is Hadassah. He became ill and stayed in bed for two weeks. Before he left Lodz, he put money in a tin can and buried it. Once he felt better, he went back, found his money and took out twenty gold pieces as well as some rings. He paid about 500 Zlotys to stay hidden and stayed for three months.
At one point, he was hidden underground, the space only high enough to sit. It was dark and he and his companions spent their time praying. They were hot and wore only their underwear, but it was “heaven compared to other places.”
They moved around, paying for hiding places. Jewish farmers had connections. One farmer made an underground hideout in the barn and covered the floor with hay. He was hidden in a pipe that measured about 12”x12” and was filled with water. Another farmer put them in a shack with pigs that was 20” high, and 6’x6’. Although there were now six of them, Sigmund told the farmer there were only three. Conditions were horrid.
When they were liberated by the Russians, they could neither talk nor walk. They went back to Nowy Korczyn and found that Hadassah’s house was gone and that someone threw a grenade at their house.
All of Hadassah’s family, parents, seven brothers, one sister, were gone as were all his family.
They now went back to Lodz where everything had changed. They found a place to stay and were there during the summer months then on to Prague, then Germany.
Sigmund and Hadassah married in 1946, had a son while in Germany. They came to the United States in 1949. A few years later, their daughter was born, who now lives in New Jersey, she has two daughters. Their son lives in California and he has one daughter.
When Mr. Rubin came to Detroit, he was employed by Ford.
Interviewer: Esther Weine
Format: Video recording