The Number on Great-Grandpa's Arm Biographies
Srulek “Jack” Feldman was born in 1926 in Skarzysko-Kamiena Poland. Shortly after his birth, Jack’s family moved to Sosnowiec Poland, where his father, a capmaker, established a store on the first floor of their home. Jack lived happily in Sosnowiec, attending school, working with English, German and Hebrew tutors after school and playing soccer with his friends. Shortly after the war broke out in 1939, Jack’s family was forced to move to the Sosnoweic Ghetto. In 1940, when Jack, age 14, was walking with some boys in the Ghetto, Nazi officials grabbed him and took him away. He was sent to a series of Nazi labor and death camps, including Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Annaberg, Fallsbruck, Gleiwice, Ludwigsdorf, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Jack arrived at Auschwitz on July 23, 1944. The number A-17606 was tattooed onto his arm.
On January 17, 1945, as the Soviet army was approaching Auschwitz, Jack, along with many other prisoners, was forced on a death march from Poland to Germany through the winter of 1945 until May 5, when he was finally liberated by the side of a road in Germany. After liberation, Jack made his way back to home, where he learned that none of his immediate family members had survived. Jack eventually made his way to Feldafing Displaced Persons camp, where he married and had a son. In 1949, he brought his wife and son to the USA on the USS Marine Flasher. Today, Jack has three children, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Bronia Brandman was born in Jaworzno, Poland in 1931. When she was 11 years old, she became an orphan. Her parents and four of her siblings were murdered in Auschwitz. One brother survived. She was sent to Auschwitz in the summer of 1943. She survived by switching lines after Dr. Mengele sent her to the gassing line. While in Auschwitz, she became ill with typhus and fell into a month-long coma. Two days after waking, on January 18, 1945, she was forced to go on a death march from Poland to Ravensbruck, Germany in negative-30-degree weather. From Ravensbruck, she went to Neustadt-Gleve, where she was liberated. A cousin in Brooklyn found Bronia and her surviving brother and brought them to New York.
Bronia did not utter a word about the Holocaust to anyone for 50 years. She has volunteered as a gallery educator at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage for 20 years. Bronia has two grandchildren.
Hana Kantor, née Szcancer, was born in Strzemieszyce, Poland, sometime around 1926, though no one knows the exact date. As a teenager, she survived the Holocaust, enduring horrifying conditions in a string of work camps and the loss of most of her family. She has spent every day since then rebuilding her life. Just weeks after the war ended, she met a fellow survivor, Anschel Kantor, who became her beloved husband.
After scraping through years in displaced persons camps, they arrived in New York City in 1949. Many decades after Hana was liberated by Russian forces, she counts her blessings: the memory of a long, close marriage; four children, 12 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and counting; a group of close girlfriends who are all fellow refugees and survivors.
Irving Roth was born in 1929 in Košice, Czechoslovakia, where his father owned a lucrative lumber business. His family escaped to Hungary and hid there until 1944, when he and his brother were deported to Auschwitz. Of the 4000 Jews in his Auschwitz transport, only 300 survived the initial selection on the Auschwitz-Birkenau arrival platform. When Irving returned home after liberation, he found that both of his parents had survived. His brother did not survive, and his last known location was Bergen-Belsen.
Irving is the Director of the Holocaust Resource Center – Temple Judea of Manhasset and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maine. He is a recognized speaker on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and is a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Marcel Tuchman was born in Przemyśl, Poland in 1921, where his father was an executive at Suchard, a chocolate company. At the beginning of the war, Tuchman and his family lived in the Przemysl Ghetto. Marcel’s mother was murdered by an SS guard during a daily selection in the ghetto while Marcel hid in the attic. When the ghetto was liquidated, Marcel and his father were deported to several camps and ultimately, Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were interned in a factory run by Siemens Corp as slave laborers doing tool and dye work for the German war machine. Two years later, the camp was emptied, and Marcel endured a five-month death march with a broken foot. When he collapsed from starvation, a stranger put a piece of bread in his mouth, which saved his life. Marcel and his father survived the march and were liberated by the American army in May of 1945.
At a displaced person camp at Bergen-Belsen, Marcel met his wife, Shoshana, a Czech survivor, who had lost 72 members of her family. They moved to the United States where Marcel became an esteemed physician and profession of Medicine at NYU. He has two grandchildren who live in New York City, close by.
Carl was born in 1925 in Dubrowa Tarnowska, a small town in Poland. During the Nazi occupation he endured two ghettos, four labor camps, and three concentration camps. His grandfather, Labish Kohane, had his beard ripped from his face by Nazis, and his dying wish was for Carl to make sure the world knew and understood. Slammed in the side of the face with the butt of a rifle at Auschwitz, Carl was chosen as one of 500 people to work in a chemical factory at Auschwitz and “lived” in Buna section of the camp. Approximately 80 people in his family were murdered, including his parents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
Shortly after liberation, he came to the United States with his brother Charles. His first job was in a cuckoo clock factory. Later, he and his brother bought a delicatessen called Hymie’s and maintained it from 1956 to 1976, and it became one of the most popular Philadelphian restaurants. He has two children and three grandchildren, including 13-year-old Arlo who interviews him for this film. Carl’s wife Etta passed away eight years ago. Strikingly positive, Carl believes in the goodness of people and in God. He has been speaking about the Holocaust at high schools, synagogues and universities for more than 30 years.