Naftali was the youngest of nine children born to devout Hasidic Jewish parents living in Kolbuszowa. The Germans invaded his town in September 1939 and began to round up Jews. Later, the Gestapo (German secret state police) shot Naftali's father. Naftali eventually made his way to the forest and lived there as a partisan before liberation by Soviet troops in mid-1944. He joined the Polish army, helping to liberate Krakow. He immigrated to the United States in 1947.
I was in Pustkow about...uh...about six weeks. During the time, every night was there a ritual, when there was the Appell [roll call], this Schmidt picked out somebody and he was hanged. We all had to watch by the Appell how the man was hanged. Usually he picked out somebody of us, and he was the hangman. Now there were certain...there were times in...in...in the books that I am writing therein I give more details, so there was times that he picked somebody who didn't want to hang the other Jew. So, he took a knife and he cut his throat, because he didn't want to hang him. And also this Schmidt was...had...had a habit--when we walked to work, we cut trees because they wanted to make the camp a little larger, so he used to shoot just in our rank, in our column. Not aiming. So once I was hit in my right arm. And...uh...and it was very difficult to work because that hand, but it...he didn't do no damage and I was, through...with somebody's help, I was transferred to another detail to put up poles...telephone poles to the town of Tarnow. And one time when I pulled...lifted a telephone pole, I dislocated a disk in my back and I couldn't straighten out. And then I knew that if I would be there and they would find out that this happened, they would shoot me, because why do they need a man with a dislocated disk? And then with the help of somebody I escaped, and I came back home.
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