Klodawa (Poland), Poznan, Buchwerder Forst, Kistrin Neustadt, Jaworzno, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Lagisza, Gleiwitz, Gross Rosen, Blechhammer, Buchenwald, Dachau, Feldafing DP camp
Born in an Orthodox home in Klodawa, Poland in 1924, Burdowski was the youngest of 6 children, 4 boys and 2 girls. His father owned a store that sold pots and pans. His mother helped in the store and worked hard at home tending her family. Burdowski recalls incidents of anti-Semitism from schoolmates at the public school who taunted and physically attacked Jewish students.
From their experiences with the Germans during World War I, his parents never expected the cruelties displayed during the Nazi occupation. The family was forced to give up their home and move to a small apartment. They had to surrender family treasures such as candlesticks and wear an identifying yellow star of David. In 1941 as life became increasingly difficult, the townspeople were told that if one member of each family would “volunteer” to work in a labor camp, life would be easier for the rest of the family. Burdowski left for the camp not knowing that within two days, two of his brothers would also be taken to a camp. He never saw his family again. With the exception of two cousins, Burdowski is the sole survivor of his immediate and extended family.
Because he was trained as a barber, Burdowski escaped hard labor at first, but not for long. As he was moved from camp to camp, survival became increasingly difficult. He went through many labor, concentration, and death camps: Poznan, Buchwerder Forst, Kistrin Neustadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Lagisza, Jaworzno, Gleiwitz, Gross-Rosen, Blechhammer, Buchenwald, and Dachau.
He was taken on death marches across Czechoslovakia to camps in Germany. He recalls trying to escape three times on the death marches, hiding in haystacks, only to be discovered by young Czech boys looking for Jews. He miraculously escaped being shot for these attempts. At the time of liberation he was on a train from Dachau with prisoners who were scheduled to be shot. Before this could be carried out, the train was liberated in the town of Staltach.
After the war, Burdowski spent four years in the DP camp Feldafing. In Feldafing he worked again as a barber and married. He and his wife immigrated to the United States in 1949.
Date: May 13, 1982
Interviewer: Paul Canchester
Format: Audio recording
Date: August 14, 1990
Interviewer: Donna R. Sklar
Format: Video recording