Jehuda Gerszonowicz

Jehuda Gerszonowicz

Born: 1867

Wodzislaw, Poland

The third of eight children, Jehuda was born in the predominantly Jewish town of Wodzislaw, about 45 miles north of Krakow. Jehuda's father was a mechanic and locksmith, and had trained Jehuda and his brothers in the trade. Jehuda eventually opened his own shop in the nearby town of Miechow. He had eight children--five sons and three daughters--by two marriages.

1933-39: All this summer Jehuda has been glued to the radio, as the number of skirmishes between the German and Polish border guards have increased. Now the Germans have invaded Poland! Jehuda convinced his sons Pinchas and Hershel to try fleeing eastward to the Soviet-occupied part of Poland. But they were traveling on foot, and 150 miles from Miechow they were overtaken by a motorized German division. They had no choice but to return home.

1940-44: Even though Jehuda is 73 years old, he's been ordered by the Germans--along with his sons Pinchas and Wolf--to work in a shop fixing their cars and trucks. They're luckier than the Jews who have to do road repairs and clean-up jobs outside, where they're constantly at risk of being beaten or killed by the Gestapo or local Polish police. When the Nazis promise sugar (which is in short supply) to anyone who exposes Jews in hiding, the number of denouncements increases dramatically.

Jehuda later worked with his sons as a machinist at the Plaszow labor camp near Krakow. In 1944 he was deported to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp where he perished.

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