Survivor STORY

Felix Moszkowicz grew up in Lodz, Poland, in 1929. His father was a tailor and secretary of the tailor's association. Felix was ten years old when the war broke out. His family were kicked out of their apartment on a street the Germans renamed "AdolfHitlerstrasse" and forced to live in the ghetto. In 1944, the ghetto was liquidated and Felix and his family were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Felix's older brother, Avrum, was separated from Felix and their father and sent to a labor camp in Germany, where he perished.

Towards the end of the war, Felix and his father were taken to Gleiwitz, then marched to Blechhammer, another labor camp, where they were liberated by the Russians. After the war, Felix and his father made their way back to Lodz to try to find family, but nobody came back. In 1946, after the Kielce pogrom (a massacre of Jews after the war), Felix and his father escaped to Sweden, where they lived for four years.

In 1950, Felix and his father emigrated to the United States, and settled in New York City, where Felix and his father both found jobs as tailors in the garment district. Felix eventually worked his way up to design and managerial positions in the garment industry, for which he was relocated to several different locales around the country, finally winding up in Atlanta.

In 1955, Felix married his wife, Phyllis, and the next year, Felix was drafted into the U.S. Army. Felix and Phyllis had their daughter, Esther, in 1958.

Life and Survival in Europe

It's a good thing that among the 26 people that we, that escaped, that were trying to escape, some of them were partisans that were fighting the Germans in the woods. Some of their friends in Warsaw, they had friends in Warsaw, so they went back to Warsaw and they spoke to them and they, somehow they got the papers for us to leave Poland. But when we came to Sweden they wouldn't let in. But in Sweden, the king's cousin intervened, and they let us into Sweden. We went down to Landskrona and they put us in a castle, with a moat, a water moat all around the castle. The castle must have been at least 600 years old. But they treat us, treated us, the best. They kept us there for a month to make sure that we are healthy. They gave us clothing -- dress up clothing, working clothing. They gave us some money to start up, and, because my father was the tailor, they found a job for him in Helsingborg, in one of the custom tailors, and they made sure that he found us a place to live and took care of us.

Survivor's Guilt

No, then you ask yourself a question. Why me? How do you know why me? I don't. You know, when soldiers go into battle and they, the movies show, some of the movies show, "Why did I survive and he got killed? It should have been me that was killed." There is no such thing. There is a higher authority that decides and you cannot decide anything. I ask myself a lot of questions also. Why me and not my brother? He was so much stronger, older, more knowledge and everything else. How can I answer it? What can I answer it? If I gave up my life for him, if I could, would I? Probably. Maybe, I don't know. I don't know, because, no, I just say, I'm sorry for them that they didn't survive.

Life Lessons and Perspectives

No, you don't have to; you don't have to make more out of your life. For what reason? For what? For whom? To... You do good deeds, you do charitable work, you do things, volunteering for different things and everything else, but that's normal. That comes as a, you want to give somebody, some of yourself, but not "because." You do it because it's humane. And whether you were in concentration camp or whether you were not in concentration camp, you still should do tzedakah.

Importance of Family

I think it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me to become a father. We did, my daughter and, since she was almost two years ... You see I was an ice skater, and I ice skated at Rockefeller Center for about five, six times every, five, six times a week I went down there. When she was about two years old I took her ice skating and we were ice skating together. Then we were bicycling together, and then we horseback riding together. And always did everything together. And that was the greatest thing I ever had. And naturally, you don't stay married 45 years if it's not a good marriage. And I guess it was a good marriage, it is a good marriage, because we are 45 years together.

Felix Moszkowicz