Born: November 10, 1922
One of 12 children, Moniek grew up in Dabrowa Gornicza, an industrial town in western Poland. His father, Jacob, owned a general store, which he was forced to close in 1938 as the result of a boycott by local antisemites. Moniek attended both public and Jewish schools, and his father hoped that one day he would become a rabbi.
1933–39: On September 1, 1939, Moniek was awakened by the sounds of airplanes flying overhead as German forces invaded Poland. As the war drew closer, Moniek fled eastward, but was caught near the Vistula River by advancing German troops. Returning to Dabrowa, he learned that the Nazis had killed some of the town's Jews, and had begun imposing severe restrictions on the community. Jews had to turn over radios, money, and furs, and were subject to forced labor. Moniek worked for the German construction office as a carpenter and bricklayer.
1940–45: On August 12, 1942, German officials ordered Dabrowa's Jews to assemble in the town. Several thousand Jews, including Moniek's parents, were selected for deportation. A few days later, they were transported to the Auschwitz killing center. Moniek was later deported to a series of concentration camps. In February 1945, as the Soviet army approached, the SS evacuated the Kittlitztreben camp. The prisoners, including Moniek, were sent on a death march to the Buchenwald concentration camp, walking more than eight hours a day in the bitter cold. Moniek survived another death march and was liberated from the Theresienstadt ghetto by Soviet troops. He reunited with members of his family. His parents and five of his siblings perished in the Holocaust.
In 1949, after spending several years in displaced persons camps in Austria and Germany, Moniek immigrated to the United States.