Upfall (Augustowski), Henry (Gedalye)

Upfall (Augustowski), Henry (Gedalye)

Warsaw (Poland), Belarus, Tashkent, Kazakhstan

Mr. Upfall was born in Warsaw, Poland, and was then known as Gedalye Augustowski.  His father, a tavern keeper, emigrated to the US in the 1920’s and he was raised by his mother and grandparents in an orthodox Jewish environment.  He had one sister, Rosa.  He attended both Polish public school and Jewish religious school and then learned to become a barber and entered that profession.  On September 7, 1939, six days after the invasion of Poland by Germany he married Dora Rajf in a Jewish ceremony.

Following Germany’s entry into Poland, the Polish government ordered all able-bodied men to move to the east to prevent falling into German hands.  Mr. Upfall went to Bialystok, but then returned to Warsaw to get his wife.  He and his wife returned to Bialystok which was under Russian jurisdiction.   From there they were sent to Vologda Chajkoski Posolek, a labor camp near the town Vologda, to work under Russian military guards, in the forest harvesting trees.  Conditions at the camp were very poor, the men slept on the floor and were given little food, but had to perform hard labor.  A son was born in 1941.

When the opportunity arose he and his wife escaped from the labor camp and stayed in a town in what is now Belarus, where he worked as a barber.  When Germany invaded Russia in 1941 they moved to Tashkent in Uzbekistan.  There he accepted a Russian passport and was placed into the Russian army.  While being shipped North he deserted, found refuge with a brother in law, and obtained bogus papers which made him again a Polish citizen.  He and his wife then found refuge with his wife’s parents who had moved to Kazakhstan.  There he worked as a barber and his wife as a beautician.

After the end of WWII he and his wife and son went back to Poland, first to Cracow, then Warsaw, where they were spirited out of Poland by Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement, and taken to Vienna, Austria.  A daughter, Dina, was born in Vienna in 1947.  From there they went to a DP camp, Muenchenberg, in Germany.

In 1949, Mr. Upfall and his wife emigrated to the United States where he joined his father in Detroit, Mi.  After receiving his license, he operated a barber shop.  He became a US citizen in 1954.

Interview and synopsis by:  Hans R. Weinmann
Date of Interview:  Aug. 11, 2006
Length of Interview:  46 minutes