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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMORIST:            RUBIN LANSKY

INTERVIEWERS:      JOHN KENT

                                 RUTH EINSTEIN

LOCATION:               ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                       DECEMBER 3, 2003

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Rubin Lansky was born in 1922 in Ozorkow, Poland. He was the second of four children born to Mojsze and Leia Zychlinksi. His father owned a clothing store. When the war started, Rubin was sent to a forced labor squad and was sent to work on the German Autobahn (highway system), where he lived in "camps," which were moved periodically as the road grew in length.

When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, Rubin's work squad was disbanded and he was sent to camps in Latvia and Estonia where he worked on the railroad system. Eventually Rubin ended up Riga-Kaiswerwald, the main camp for Latvia. Rubin was sent to Danzig via ship in September 1944. From Danzig he was sent to Buchenwald and then to Bochumer Verein, a steel plant/labor camp. When the Allies began heavily bombing the area, he volunteered for a job locating and digging up unexploded bombs until he was shipped out on an open-air railcar that wandered aimlessly before stopping in Czechoslovakia. There, Rubin said he was a non-Jewish Czech and became part of a group of prisoners ransomed by the Czech-government-in-exile. Rubin was taken to a hospital, from which a Czech man rescued him, took him home to his family and nursed him back to health.

After the war, Rubin returned to Ozorkow and learned that his parents, older brother, Abram, and younger sister and brother, Fajga and Jacob, had not survived. He then ended up in Bamberg, Germany where he got an apartment and a job. There, he searched for any family members that survived and found a cousin, Lola Borkowska, who was in the Feldafing DP camp.

Rubin immigrated to the United States in 1947 and soon thereafter married Lola. In 1953, the Lansky family moved to Atlanta, Georgia where they opened a grocery store. A few years later, Rubin began a successful career in the Real Estate management business. Rubin and Lola were members of Ahavath Achim Synagogue and founding members of Eternal-Life Hemshech, which constructed the Memorial to the Six Million. Lola passed away on Februay 10, 1999 and Rubin died on March 19, 2005.

Scope of Interview:

Rubin recounts how he began working for the Germans as a forced laborer soon after Poland was occupied. He recalls working on the Autobahn and staying in Organization Todt labor camps in the Baltic States. Rubin explains how he was sent by boat from Riga-Kaiswerwald to Germany near the end of the war. He recalls his time in Buchenwald and working at the Bochumer Verein steel plant/labor camp. He describes the destruction of Allied bombing campaigns and his decision to volunteer for clearing bombs. Rubin traces his journey from Buchenwald to Czechoslovakia, where he passed as a non-Jewish Czech and was taken to a Red Cross hospital. Rubin shares how he travelled back to Poland after the war, where he learned his family had not survived, and participated in retaliation against Germans that had been captured by the Soviets. Rubin describes returning to Germany—first in Bamberg and later in Munich, where he made a living on the Black Market. He shares how he met his wife. He outlines his immigration to the United States, working at a factory in New York, and finally moving to Atlanta, Georgia. He discusses his early ventures as a grocery store owner before moving into real estate. Rubin reflects on adjusting to life in America, raising his children, and he and his wife’s involvement in the Atlanta survivor community, which became their extended family. He discusses his involvement with the construction of the Memorial to Six Million in Atlanta’s Greenwood Cemetery and how he helped bring a surviving Torah from his hometown to Atlanta. Rubin offers his perspective of the Holocaust and the decision by the Allies not to bomb concentration camps. Rubin compares Jewish life in Europe and America and offers his perspective of religion and life in America.

 

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