Warsaw (Poland), Wohin, Slavteacha, Suchowol, Majdanek, Buna, Gleiwitz
Mr. Max Roisman was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1913. When he was three years old, he left with his family for Wohin in the Lublin district where he stayed until the age of seventeen. He then returned to Warsaw where he was drafted by the Polish army.
His father was Israel Roizman and his mother was Rachel; and his brothers were Nathan, Morris, Jacob and Zalman. Max was the third son.
His paternal grandparents were Yaakov and Chaya. His father was a merchant who made clothes that were exported to Germany and Russia. His brothers all became tailors.
Mr. Roisman’s father was an Orthodox Jew who davened every morning and his mother kept a kosher home. They were middle class but had enough to give to the poor.
In 1929, the family lost all their money, but after the war, they went back into the clothing business.
When the war broke out, Mr. Roisman had been married for a few months (1939). They all left Warsaw, trying to reach Russia. When they found that they could not make it, they stayed in Slavteacha for one year. They worked night and day, living in fear of surprise attacks. He eventually escaped to another city where his mother’s family lived. His wife, Goldy, told him to come back.
Mr. Roisman was first taken to a farm camp, Suchowol, from 1941 until 1943. From there, he was sent to Majdanek for three months. He had a tailor shop in the first camp, but knew that Majdanek was a death camp and there was no hope to survive.His father and two of his brothers was gassed there. He was then in Camp Buna from 1943 until January of 1945. He worked in a field for IG Farben where he received cigarettes and food.
The head of this camp was a German gonif (thief).
He saw hangings and also Dr. Mengele, making the selections. There were about nineteen thousand prisoners there.
On the march to Gleiwitz, he saw people falling over and horses and buggies picking up the dead. There he found good food, cigarettes, kielbasa, cake. Only twelve hundred were left from the nineteen thousand.
Mr. Roisman was shot in the leg, but a German doctor saved him from amputation, bringing him food and sweets from his home. While in the hospital, he went to the kitchen and found over one thousand loaves of bread and also tons of meat. From there, he took the train home.
He opened a clothing shop and stayed until 1950 when they left for Israel. From there, he traveled to Rome and then a cousin in Germany smuggled them into Austria. By this time, they had a baby boy.
They settled in Austria where Mr. Roisman taught tailoring and worked day and night. His second son was born in New York in January of 1956. They settled in Rochester.
Mr. Roisman’s brother Nathan was an officer in the underground before he was killed. His brother Morris (Moshe) was also lost.
Date: May 10, 1992
Interviewer: Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig
Length: 1 hour and 7 minutes
Format: Video Recording