Abe Goldberg was born in Łódź, Poland in 1924, the youngest of four siblings. At the time, the city’s population was one-third Jewish. The first bomb fell on Łódź on September 1, 1939.
The following week the Nazis marched into the city and imposed the anti-Jewish Nuremberg laws. Jews were dragged from their home, and the men were sent to work without pay.
Members of the Jewish community were first forced to hand in their radios to the Nazis, before being forced to give up all of their valuables. Jews were also no longer allowed to go to their places of employment and synagogues were burned down and vandalized. Soon after, Jews were required to wear a yellow armband.
“The only way we could go out was through the wires and those wires, barbed-wire, and those wires were guarded by the German Schutzpolizei. Those who guarded the ghetto very often they’d amuse themselves by taking off their rifle and making men, women or children moving targets.”
In April 1940, the Łódź Ghetto was walled off from the rest of the city and guarded by the German Schutzpolizei. Often the guards would amuse themselves by using Jews as moving targets. In response, Abe joined the “Bund,” a Jewish socialist organization that coordinated protests, resistance, and relief efforts in the Ghetto. Following the group’s first protest, many of the demonstrators were killed by the Nazis, and the Bund members realized that they needed to reassess their methods.
In 1942, Abe lost almost his entire family side during a massive roundup of Jewish ghetto residents by the Nazis. Caught in the chaos, more than 50 members of his extended family were sent to a concentration camp and he would never see many of them again.
Abe and his mother survived the next two years in the Łódź Ghetto, enduring hunger and managing to avoid a number of deportations, until the Nazis liquidated the ghetto in August of 1944. After the ghetto was liquidated Abe and his mother were sent to Auschwitz, where his mother was gassed upon arrival.
During his eight months at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Abe was subjected to humiliation and abuse. In December of 1944, he was taken out of Auschwitz and sent to various camps throughout Germany until he was liberated on May 2nd, 1945.
Source: JHC Melbourne