Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

For decades I was silent. I had lived under the Nazi regime for five and a half years. I experienced and witnessed horrors beyond imagining and suffered the consequences of that period for many years thereafter. Yet I could not speak about what Nazi Germany had done to my family and to my people. Perhaps I was focused on creating a new life for myself in America and attempting...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

In May–June 1995 I celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of my liberation from the Nazi Germany concentration camps by writing a short article to mark the significance of that jubilee occasion for me. It was not intended for publication but to share with family and friends my thoughts and memories on that occasion. At that time I started thinking seriously about writing my memoirs...

List of Extended Family Members Who Perished in the Holocaust, 1939–1945

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pp. xiii-xvi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-2

The letter began “Taierer Fraind” (“Dear Friend”), and as a man who had lost all his friends and loved ones, this was a phrase I had never expected to hear or read again. The year was 1947, two and a half years after my liberation from the Nazi concentration camps, and I, a twenty- four- year- old survivor, found myself still in transit, longing to immigrate to Palestine. I had just arrived in...

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1. Origins

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pp. 3-16

The city of Mlawa is located in the northern part of Poland, between Warsaw and Danzig, in the district of Mazowsze. Both my parents, Israel Meyer Goldstein and Tirtza Beilah Goldstein, were born there, and on April 23, 1923, I became one of the first of the next generation of Goldsteins to be born in the city. I was named Baruch Gershon after my mother’s uncle, who...

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2. The Rise of the Nazi Party and the Invasion of Poland

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pp. 17-26

When Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party came to power in Germany in 1933, I was about ten years old. Although I was young, I was well aware of the drastic political changes going on in this neighboring country west of Poland. From the conversations I heard in our home and from adults everywhere, I learned of the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany. Within two months after...

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3. Mlawa under German Occupation

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pp. 27-36

My memories of the day the Germans invaded Poland are still clear to me. It was early Friday morning, September 1, 1939, and my mother woke us suddenly, at about 5:30. Practically shaking, she informed us that Germany had invaded Poland. Naturally, we were terrified. The sound of gunfire and shelling at the East Prussian border could be heard in the distance. We sensed that...

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4. The First Expulsion of Jews from Mlawa and the Creation of a Ghetto

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pp. 37-42

We did not know then all the details of the order that Reinhard Heydrich had issued to the chiefs of the Einsatzgruppen on September 21, 1939. Only after the war did we learn that the Einsatzgruppen were to concentrate all Jews from the countryside into the larger cities. Only cities with rail junctions were to be selected as concentration points. Jewish communities of less than...

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5. Refugees in Lubartów

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pp. 43-47

Before World War II, the city of Lubartów, located about twenty miles north of Lublin, had a Jewish population of approximately 3,500 among a total population of more than 8,000. The Germans entered Lubartów on September 19, 1939, and on October 12, 1939, carried out the first persecution of Jews and major plunder of Jewish property. At the beginning of...

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6. On the Way Back Home to Mlawa

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pp. 48-57

Mlawa was almost 250 miles from Lubartów, so the journey back to my hometown would be a long one. Jews were not allowed to travel by train, so our journey was to be done by horse and buggy. The coachman, with his horse and buggy, took us to the town of Miedzyrzec, where we intended to spend the night. We welcomed this...

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7. A Prisoner in the Labor Camps

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pp. 58-65

The Mlawa prison was close to the center of the city in an area I would pass by on the way to visit my Grandma Toba or to go other places. As a child I used to get an awkward feeling whenever I passed by, thinking that it was a place of punishment for criminals. The building evoked fear and made me determined never to break the law or to step foot...

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8. Life in the Mlawa Ghetto

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pp. 66-75

Now that I had finally arrived in the Mlawa ghetto, I learned about the three thousand Jews who were permitted to remain in Mlawa after the expulsion of the other half. After that evacuation, the local German Landrat (chief officer) invited the members of the Judenrat to his offices and told them that the evacuation had been necessary. Those who remained should feel safe and...

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9. Liquidation of the Mlawa Ghetto

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pp. 76-78

As time passed, we in the Mlawa ghetto became more and more aware of the thousands of Jews in German-occupied land who were being shot and killed or dying of starvation. We also knew that Jews living in smaller towns had been forced to settle in overcrowded ghettos in larger cities, just like the Jews in our Mlawa ghetto. What we did not know...

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10. To the Auschwitz Concentration Camp

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pp. 79-92

Nazi Germany established concentration camps as soon as their party seized power in 1933 and retained them as an integral part of the Third Reich until their defeat in May 1945. These concentration camps were at first intended for political and ideological opponents but later included criminals, social misfits, undesirables, and Jews. World War II brought substantial changes to...

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11. The Long Road to Liberation

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pp. 93-111

Thus we left the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 18, 1945. The Germans marched us out of the camp in large groups, a couple of hundred prisoners at a time, with the various groups headed for different camps westward.1 It was a bitterly cold day. The guards surrounding us carried rifles and bayonets and watched over us constantly. It was the middle...

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12. From Slavery to Freedom

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pp. 112-120

The transition from being a prisoner to being a free man was not an easy one for me. I was deeply affected by the six years from age sixteen, when the Nazi horror began, to the age of twenty- two, when I became a “free” man. I continued living with the burden and the pain of the past atrocities and the losses of my dear family. I could not simply switch...

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13. Decision Making

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pp. 121-129

Many have compared a person’s life to a book. Jewish tradition, in fact, speaks of Sefer Hachayim, the “Book of Life.” Every day creates another page in our personal book; a group of days creates a chapter in our book. Some of the pages we write ourselves when we have the freedom to do so. Other pages are written for us when our freedom is limited. In most...

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14. First Passover in America

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pp. 130-137

Passover was fast approaching, and I had not considered making special plans for the holy days. I felt I was now a member of the Kleibard family and would celebrate Pesach with them, of course. I was looking forward to spending the holiday with family, at last. During the three years since the war had ended, I had marked the holiday only by refraining from eating any hametz...

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15. Husband, Father, Teacher

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pp. 138-146

Now that our honeymoon was over, it was time for Riva and me to settle into a daily routine. As we had decided before our wedding, we moved in with Riva’s parents in Worcester. Although the circumstances were not ideal for newlyweds, Riva’s parents made our living arrangements as comfortable and as pleasant as possible. They treated us graciously...

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16. I Find My Calling

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pp. 147-152

The year 1964 marked the beginning of more big changes in my life. In the spring of that year, Rabbi Jack Schechter, executive director of the United Synagogues of New England, suggested that I apply for the rabbinic position at Temple Emmanuel in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Rabbi Schechter and I had met a number of times at conferences and conventions, including at...

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17. My Return to Mlawa

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pp. 153-160

The Russian army liberated Mlawa at the beginning of 1945 as it was marching toward Berlin in pursuit of the Germans. After the defeat of Germany, a small number of liberated Jews from the concentration camps returned to Mlawa to search for surviving family and friends. They were joined by a smaller number of young Jews from Mlawa and other cities who survived the...

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18. To Jerusalem

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pp. 161-164

By the time Riva and I had moved to Portland in 1998 to be closer to our family, Meyer had taken an active interest in the Jewish community and began to organize classes for adult Jewish education, including the serious study of Talmud. This led to the introduction to the community of the Melton Adult Jewish Education program, a two- year course of instruction for people...

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19. Faith after the Holocaust

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pp. 165-177

Like Elie Wiesel, I cannot and will never forget the brutality I have seen and experienced in the labor camps, the ghettos, and the concentration camps. Above all, I cannot and never will forget the loss of my family, my friends, and the six million of my people whose only crime was that they were Jews. Neither can I, nor will I, forget the torture...

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Epilogue: Gratitude and Hope

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pp. 178-180

As I look back to the years after my liberation from the Nazi terror, I realize that I have lived my life with bitter memories of persecution and irreparable losses. But I have also learned to live with a sense of gratitude for the joy of life. I am grateful for having had the blessing of fifty- four wonderful years of sharing true love and a good and...

Notes

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pp. 181-186

Glossary

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pp. 187-192