Wilek was the son of Jewish parents living in the southeastern Polish town of Lvov. His family owned and operated a winery that had been in family hands since 1870. Wilek's father died of a heart attack in 1929. Wilek entered secondary school in 1939. Soon after he began school, World War II began with the German invasion of Poland. Lvov was in the part of eastern Poland annexed by the Soviet Union. Although the Soviets took over Wilek's home and the family business, Wilek was able to continue his schooling. On June 22, 1941, German forces invaded the Soviet Union. The Germans occupied Lvov and established a ghetto there. Wilek was among a small group of Jews who left the ghetto daily to work. He helped make roofing paper for the German army. In 1943, shortly before the Germans destroyed the Lvov ghetto, Wilek obtained false papers, assumed the name of a Christian coworker, and fled to Hungary. He became a courier for the resistance in Budapest and was eventually arrested by the Germans as a Polish spy. He was sent to the Auschwitz camp in October 1944. Wilek was among thousands of prisoners sent on a death march to the German interior as Allied forces advanced. He was liberated by US forces in April 1945, and immigrated to the United States in 1949.
But I got in, into, into, into the ghetto because I wanted to see what happened to my mother. I rushed in into the house. The house was empty, but the hiding place where we had a hiding place for my mother was a couch. A couch consisted of a frame and on top of the frame there was this soft part which is the couch. And you couldn't tell whether that couch, uh, was separate. For, for anyone else it was one part, the frame and the couch, the upper part, was one unit. That's why when there was any Aktion, my mother will be hiding over there. I will make sure of that. When I got home, the upper part was moved, so I was scared of that. And when I cried out for my mother, she came to life, she was there. She was on the end side of the couch, so even it was moved, she was in that area. She was wrapped around in a blanket, dark blanket. So even they were looking for her, they didn't find her. She was there, so she, we had our moments.
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