Survivor STORY

Abe Podber (Podberesky) grew up in Wisniowiec, Poland, in a family that included four brothers and two sisters. Abe and his family were forced to move into the ghetto in their town after the German occupied Poland. Abe survived several labor camps, including Landsberg-Hemlich, a sub-camp of Dachau, and was liberated in Germany. He met his wife, Phyllis Sonshein Podber in a DP camp after the war. In the DP camp, Abe started a toy business. In 1949, the Podbers arrived in Atlanta, where Abe opened a grocery business. He later went into the real estate business. The Podbers have three sons, Arnold, Morris, and Jacob.
Life and Survival in Europe

We look in the back, they killing the Russian people, the hundreds of people. Is woods outside. They bring them in the woods, and we hear the machines going b-b-b-b-b, they started to shoot and kill all the Russian. I think myself, "If they kill the Russians, they going to take us too." Why they leave us, and they are going to take the Russians and kill them, they going to take us. They kill the Russians, later they're going to take us. And what I do -- do you see a chimney? -- I started to climb from the chimney on the top of the roof. On the top. And I been on the top of the roof all night. I hold one been here a little, I hold one like that and I'm staying all night. And I been listening what is going on. The machines is shooting, shooting, shooting, so many thousands. And I stay on the top. And later on I see, started to be light already, maybe 6, 7 o'clock. I take and put my head out on the top of the roof, on the chimney, and I see our people going here and going here and going here and going here, and I see military, not Germans and not the Russian military I know. Not Germans, but the American uniform. We don't see in Poland the American uniform. I see the American soldiers going round and round. Golly, I just let down myself and I come out. When I come out, everybody looking at me. They don't know me, some know me, some not. I used to be like a chimney man, black, dark, you know, from the coal, from the steam. Terrible.

Earning a Living

We come to Atlanta in November the 17th, in1949, and after that, maybe two, three months later, I already been in business, because Mr. Garber helped me to go in the business. He don't pay for me, he helped me, and I sign a note to pay. And in the store, he don't have any stock too much, and he don't have any 'frigeration. This Mr. Garber take me to a place what they have 'frigeration. And I bought a frigidaire and they bring it in and they connect it, everything. But they ask me how I'm going pay. I say if I do business I'm going to pay right away. He said to me, "We going put a meter on the box and every day you going to have to put four quarters." I say, "Ok." One day I put 8 quarters. The second day, 12 quarters. The third day I put 20 quarters. And when they come collecting (every month they used to come and collect the money) they used to be really, really, really excited. Say, "How do you do that? We make four quarters, so you got 50 quarters, 100 quarters. How you make it?" I say, "I will pay you as soon what I can. I don't like to owe any money to people."

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Abe Podber