This oral history video interview is available at the USC Shoah Foundation website through the
generosity of the Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Family Foundation
Ostrowiec, Skarzysko, Auschwitz, Birkenau, Oranienburg, Flossenburg, Lowenberg, Tutzing
Simon was born in 1918 in a suburb of Ostrowiec.
He had five brothers and two sisters.
He was tutored in Hebrew and attended some high school.
In 1938, when he was twenty years old, he was drafted into the Polish army, fighting against the Germans. While in the army, he was chosen to attend the Officers Training School, being put in charge of a platoon.
Before the war, his family spoke about going to Columbia but his father backed out because Columbia had neither temples nor rabbis.
When Germans came, restrictions began. Armbands had to be worn and curfews were enforced. The Jews could not travel as their horses and bicycles were taken. Next came the ghettos and food rationing.
Simon was a Judenrat member and was sent to buy typewriters for the Germans. He found them lying on the streets. He escaped the Ghetto by bike and took his girlfriend. He was hidden with five people who all slept in a stable. From there, he was taken into a house and slept in the cellar.
From there, he went to Skarzysko to the labor camps where he worked in a factory making bullets.
He lived in a barrack and was given about four ounces of bread each day along with soup made from water and leaves. His family was sent to Treblinka in 1942.
Simon’s family left their silver and jewelry with Polish friends who sold the valuables and bought food and milk which they tried to smuggle to Simon.
The SS men shot all the sick and a Jewish policeman saved his life. He separated from his fiancée.
Next he was taken to Auschwitz by train. There were many stops along the way and no food. When he arrived he was shaven and spent eight days in quarantine. On the train, they knew where they were going, but didn’t know about the crematoria. They saw gypsies across from their barracks, who were all sent to the ovens.
Their work consisted of moving gravel back and forth.
They next marched to Birkenau and were sent to Block 56 after being disinfected. On January 18th, he began the “death march.” He says he stayed alive because his will to live was so strong. Every morning the SS threw away the dead.
They eventually arrived in a Berlin suburb, Oranienburg and then on to Flossenburg, spending ten days in quarantine. He then had a bag of straw to sleep on and walked ten kilometers to work each day carrying bags of cement.
A German Kapo split his head for buttoning up his collar so that the cement wouldn’t cover his body.
Then he was transported to a place where they made bunkers for small planes. Next stop was Lowenberg near Stuttgart. They were liberated in Tutzing. By this time, he lost all hope that his parents were still alive, but he heard rumors that they were dumped into the sea.
He saw Hungarians throwing away their guns and tearing off their swastikas. He settled in Munich and believes that God saved him.
He is married and has two daughters and two sons who are all college graduates.
Interviewer: Sidney Bolkosky
Length: 2 hours
Format: Video recording
To view this oral history video interview, please click here.