Survivor STORY

Simon grew up in Katowice, Poland and escaped into the Soviet Union as the Germans invaded Poland. He was a forced laborer in Russia for four years and then escaped and fought the Nazis as an officer with the Polish Army, during which time he earned a commendation for bravery. He and his wife, Pola, whom he had met in Germany after the war, immigrated to Atlanta in 1949. In 1960, Simon opened Lenox Square Lock and Key works, the longest operating, independently owned business in Lenox Square. Simon and his wife, Pola, were founding members of Hemschech - Eternal Life, the organization of Holocaust survivors in Atlanta. Simon and Pola have two children, Phyllis and Steve Fraley, and one granddaughter, Shayna. Simon passed away in December 2001.

And they said Atlanta's a good city for a locksmith, so I came to Atlanta. I didn't know no more about Atlanta than I know about the moon. I didn't know a thing about Atlanta. What they, where they sent me I went. I was used to go where they tell me to. Do I know anything? I didn't know nothing. Couldn't speak the language. I worked for C.C. Downs three weeks, then I walked down the street and I saw another locksmith and I told him, I could, I spoke a little bit English already. I wasn't a dead head. Anyway, so I explained to him I'm a locksmith from Europe, and this and that, and they hired me. And they gave me right away fifty bucks a week. Fifty dollars was already good gelt (money), nice, make a living, then.

American Dream

I was very happy to raise children in America. They were equal. They didn't, being different in Europe and Poland and in America, you are human. Over there, they treat you like a third class, not a second class. I don't have nothing for Poland. I fought for 'em, and I laid my life on the line, and I went to Poland, came back to Poland, and I saw they were killing Jews after the war in Kielce, a pogrom.

Judaism and Jewishness

I went to the synagogue when I came over here, often. And now, I don't think it's...

How come?

What I went through, what I saw. Hitler killed the rabbis, and the kids, and the women, and the Rabboneh Shel Olam [Ruler of the Universe], He didn't do a thing. I'm skeptical ... I'm confused, very confused. Inside my heart, when I was a younger kid, younger, I believed in God one hundred percent. Now, I'm not so sure. I'm telling you the truth, just like it is. I think when you treat your other fellow like you want to be treated, that's all you required to do, and the rest is up to you. I never cheated one person in business, one nickel.

Life and Survival in Europe

Why did you survive?

Sheer luck. And tough. I was tough. I marched 400 kilometers by foot, with another guy, carrying that rifle in full, in full... How do you call it?


Yeah. Everything a soldier need I carried on me. Four hundred kilometer! I slept in the ditch in snow. You name it! I was so damn tired. I couldn't even walk no more. But I made it. Tall, big guys, they folded up, they took them on the truck. I made it till Warsaw, to Praga. And this is the honest truth!

Simon Fraley