Born: October 29, 1925
Wilek was the son of Jewish parents living in Lvov, a large city in southeastern Poland. His family owned and operated a honeywine winery. Although they lived amongst Poles and Ukrainians, Wilek's family spoke Hebrew, German and Polish at home and were among Lvov's Jewish intelligentsia. When Wilek was 4, his father died of a heart attack.
1933-39: Jews were often discriminated against in Poland. They found it hard to gain access to schools and jobs. In 1939 Wilek managed to pass the entrance exam and entered the Lvov secondary school. Soon after he began school, war broke out; the Soviets and Germans divided Poland. The Soviets annexed Lvov, taking over their home and business. However, Soviet rule spared them from the Nazis' brutality. Wilek continued his schooling.
1940-44: The German army seized Lvov in 1941, moving the Jews into a ghetto. Wilek was among 40 who crossed daily to the Polish side to make roofing paper for the German army; this work saved him from deportation. In 1943, just before the Germans destroyed the ghetto, Wilek got false papers, assumed the name of a Christian coworker, and fled to Hungary. He became a courier for the resistance in Budapest and was arrested as a Polish spy. Unaware of his Jewish identity, they sent him to Auschwitz on October 29, 1944. It was his 19th birthday.
Among thousands of prisoners force-marched to the German interior as the Allies advanced, Wilek was liberated by the Americans on April 23, 1945. In 1949 he immigrated to America.