Herszel Warshawsky

My Story...

I was born in Chmielnik, Poland on February 14, 1913.

My father's name was Yechiel.

My mother's name was Velke nee Swiczarczik ( Shwitzer).

My brother's name was Yosel, he was married with two children.

My sister's name was Pesel.

All of my immediate family perished in the Holocaust.

My father was a baker. My mother worked in the bakery beside our home. My father went to the market every day to sell the baking. On many occasions I would be his helper. After elementary school my parents sent me to learn a trade - a Tailor.

In 1934 when I was of age, it was mandatory to go in the Polish Army for two years. I learned all about guns and fighting. I came back to our town and went back to work as a tailor. There was an illegal gun amidst my friends. All of us had a turn to hide it.

When the war broke in 1939 the Nazi's entered our town. One day I saw the Nazi's stopping all the old men in the streets and cutting off their beards. I then decided to flee with my friends and escaped to the Soviet Union. We spent many years in a slave camp working in the woods cutting down trees for export.

In 1943 I ran away from the camp and found my way to Usbekistan, Russia. I found a job, a night watchman in a school. My future wife Betty was working in that school. We got to know each other and were married in 1944.

After the end of the war we made our way through Europe. It took over two years. But we made it to our final destination - Israel. Nevertheless our ship had to be detoured to Cyprus for eight months. We were in a detention/military camp on the island, until Golda Meir came to Cyprus to negotiate who should be given priority to leave the camps. Families with newborn children were allowed to sail to Israel first.

We lived in Israel for three years. I was in the Israeli army. In late 1950 I came to Winnipeg, Canada to join my family.

There is a Chmielnik group in Israel and in Toronto. On one of our visits to Israel the group had a dinner in my honour and acknowledged my courage and bravery.

I am blessed with a wonderful family and the good life we all share in Canada.