Born: September 30, 1922
Michal was one of two children born to Catholic parents living in Siedlce, a large town some 65 miles east of Warsaw. Michal's father was an intelligence officer in the Polish army. Because his duty station frequently changed, the family lived in several towns along the Polish-Soviet border. As a child, Michal enjoyed photography and was active in the boy scouts.
1933-39: Michal's family was living in Wilejka, a town near Vilna, when the Germans attacked Poland on September 1, 1939. The Soviet army invaded from the east on September 17, and his father left with his unit to avoid being captured by the Soviets. Michal, his mother and sister remained in Wilejka. In school, his teachers were replaced by Russian army officers who taught them Russian and Communist Party doctrine.
1940-45: In 1940 Michal escaped to Warsaw in German-occupied Poland. His mother and sister joined him later and they opened a delicatessen outside of Warsaw. In September 1942 he was arrested by the SS, suspected, like many Polish youth, of being in the underground. He escaped, but was arrested again in March 1943 and held in Warsaw's Pawiak Prison. After interrogation and beatings, Michal was shipped to Auschwitz where he barely survived starvation, brutality and untreated pneumonia. In 1944 he was sent to the Flossenbürg camp in Germany.