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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives



LOCATION:               ATLANTA, GEORGIA               

DATE:                       AUGUST 28, 1984

SPONSORED BY:    Taylor Family Fund

CITATION:                Abe Podber, August 28, 184, OHC10536, p. xx from the Herbert and Esther Taylor Oral History Collection, Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History at the Breman Museum, Atlanta, Georgia.

Transcript (PDF)


Abe Podber was born in Wiszniew, Poland on September 9, 1919. Abe was the third of four sons and had two sisters. In the pre-war years, life was good for Abe and his family. Abe attended a Polish and a Hebrew school. After finishing school, he started a business. When the Germans invaded western Poland in 1939, Russia took the opportunity to occupy the eastern half of Poland, where Wiszniew was. However, it was not until the Germans advanced into eastern Poland during the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 that life dramatically changed. Abe’s eldest brother was immediately murdered. His two other brothers escaped to Russia. Abe only narrowly escaped death after he was arrested. Chained to a group of prisoners and taken to a local cemetery where a work detail was digging a mass grave, he realized he was about to be shot. Abe grabbed a shovel and pretended to be part of the burial detail, taking the place of a prisoner who had escaped.

Abe, his parents, his sisters, and the remaining Jewish population were soon confined to a ghetto the Germans established. Abe worked as a forced laborer in the ghetto. In August 1942, the Jews living in the ghetto were rounded up. Truckload after truckload was taken to a large building nearby, lined up against a wall, and shot. Those who remained at the end of the day were then forced into the building. When the Germans set fire to the building, Abe and a few others managed to escape. Abe’s family remained inside the burning building. Abe found shelter in a nearby forest. A few weeks later, he was captured and sent to a work camp.  

After spending about a year in the work camp, Abe was shipped to Stutthof concentration camp in Germany. Life became much more difficult. After a few weeks, Abe was sent to Dachau concentration camp. From Dachau, Abe was sent to Kaufering, a sub-camp of Dachau near Landberg am Lech. Abe spent the next two years living in harsh conditions and performing difficult manual labor. In the spring of 1945, in the closing days of World War II, the Germans sent the prisoners of Dachau and its sub-camps on a death march south toward Tyrol, Austria. The Jewish and Russian prisoners Abe was with stopped at a camp near Wolfrathausen, Germany. Abe hid in a chimney when the Germans began to shoot the Russian prisoners. The Jewish prisoners were left alone and soon liberated by American troops.

After liberation, Abe spent several months in the Feldafing Displaced Persons camp. He found work with the US Army and then eventually managed to make a living for himself. In 1949, he married Phillis in Ulm, Germany. During this period, Abe was also reunited with his two brothers, who had spent the war in Russia. In 1949, Abe, Phillis, and one of Abe’s brothers immigrated to the United States; the other brother went to Israel. Abe and Phillis settled in Atlanta, Georgia. Abe bought a grocery store and worked in real estate. The couple had three sons. Abe passed away in 2011.

Scope of Interview

Abe describes life in his small town in Poland before the war. He says Jews and non-Jews got on well and had very good relationships. He recounts how difficult life became after the Germans occupied his town in 1941. Abe describes being arrested and narrowly escaping being shot. He describes being interned in a ghetto. Food was in short supply and Abe was forced into slave labor. Abe explains how the ghetto was liquidated, his family locked in a building that was set on fire, and his escape to the forest. Abe recalls spending a year in a work camp and then being sent to Stutthof, where he witnessed great brutality. He describes the difficult work he endured when he was then sent to Kaufering, a sub-camp of Dachau near Landberg am Lech. He explains why he never sought help when he was sick or tried to escape. He describes the hierarchy, treatment of, and interaction between prisoners. Abe recounts being sent on a death march south toward Austria at the end of the war and stopping in a camp near Wolfrathausen, Germany. He recalls the chaos before American troops liberated the prisoners. Abe outlines his time in a DP camp after the war and working for the US Army. In Germany, he married and was reunited with two of his brothers before immigrating to the United States. Abe is distressed by the recollection of his family’s murder and haunted by the murder of young children that he witnessed. Abe admits his reluctance to accept war reparations from Germany. His feelings towards Germany become apparent when he describes his son’s visit to Europe and his own disinterest in returning. Abe shares his perspective of Israel and its struggle with its Arab neighbors. In closing, Abe tells how happy he is living in the United States with his wife and family. He comments on the effect that his experiences during the Holocaust have had on him and how it continued to affect his life.


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