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eric brooks Holocaust Survivor Story: Joseph Sher.

A look at Mr. Joseph Sher's encounter with a genocide that will never be forgotten.

eric brooks

on 19 April 2013

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Transcript of eric brooks Holocaust Survivor Story: Joseph Sher.

Joseph Sher: A Survivor's Story. Table of Contents: I. Early Life A) Birth Place
B) Family Life
C) Meeting Rachel II. Surviving Genocide A) First Arrival of the German Army
B) Three out of a Thousand
C) A moment of freedom
D) Reuniting with Rachel
E) Time Spent With the Russian Army III. Life after the war
A) Finding a Home
B) Beginning new life in America
C) Surviving Disaster 60 years later Early Life Of
Joseph Sher. Joseph was born on July 27, 1917 in the Polish town of Krzepice, which is located near the boarder of what was then known as Czechoslovakia (now split into The Czech Republic and Slovakia). Birth Place Family Life Joseph was born into a happy family of eight, to parents Simon and Felicia. He was the middle boy in the family, having an older and younger brother, as well as three sisters. Father Simon was a well respected taylor in the town and was a well educated man.
Being able to write in Polish, Russian, and German, his father was a secretary to the court who delt with contracts and property, which was an uncommon occupation for a Jewish man at the time.
His mother was known as a very gentle woman, often refured to as gentle Feigele, meaning "little bird". Meeting Rachel Freida was Joseph's youngest sister and she is also how he met his future wife Rachel. Rachel came from a town near by Krezpice known as Czestochowa, visiting Krezpice for the summer. Walking down the street one day, Rachel saw Joseph's sister Freida and stopped her immediately. Rachel took a moment to look at Freida and then said "You are such a beauty. Do you have you a brother?" It was from this moment on that Joseph and Rachel were involved with each other. They had no idea what future obstacles ahead would test their love. Time in the Camp. First Arrival of the German Army Upon moving to the city of Czestochowa with his family, the German army moved in as well. They put posters up demanding every Jewish male between the ages of 15-80 to gather in the market. Joseph was very frightened, and decided to hide in the attic of his third floor appartment. He told himself "If they kill me, let them kill me here." Joseph's Father and brother Leo went to the market and were told that every Jew must lie face down on the street in the hot sun, there was no food or water. Any Jew that raised their head would be shot, proceeding to shoot every tenth or twelvth man to show that they were now in control. This moment is when they figured out what "Hitler" ment and who he was. The day became known as bloody monday, due to the hundreds that were shot. The Germans burned down the synagogue, and soon moved the Jews into the ghetto in which they built in its place. Joseph was sent to Cieszanow to help with the construction of a highway, due to an order by Hitler demanding so meny men from each city between the ages of twenty and thirty. Joseph, along with the other young men, were put into cattle cars and shipped to their destination. It was here where they were forced up at 4 a.m and put to work by 5. They slept on straw and were fed small portions of bread each day. Out of a thousand men to be brought hear from Czestochowa, only three including Joseph survived. Three out of a Thousand A Moment of Freedom Joseph survived his time working in Cieszanow due to knowing two German jews from the Czestochowa ghetto, who promised his mother at an earlier date that they would get Joseph home alive. One night at the camp, two gaurds wrapped Joseph in bandages, making it out to seem as if he had been hurt while working. Instead of regular procedure, he was taken to the two German jews, the doctor, and the professor, who unwrapped his bandages, gave him a ticket and put him on a train home. After nine months of being in that labour camp, yet again, Joseph survived. Joseph returned to the camps in september 1942, and remained in and out of different labour camps until they were set free by the russians in 1945. During this period, he was lucky enough to be able to spend some of his time in a factory working to make clay, however this only lasted for ten weeks or so. After returning from the factory, he realized he'd been seperated from his mother, sisters, and also his wife Rachel. While he never saw his mother or sisters from that point on, he was lucky enough to reunite with his wife and spend the remainder of their time in the camps with her in a small ghetto. Reuniting with Rachel Time Spent With the Russians After being freed by the Russian army, the survivors had nowhere to go. Rather than falling for one last trick by the nazis in hopes of ridding every jew they could before defeat, ninety of the surviving jews began a treturous walk through cold January snow. They split into smaller groupes of ten, Joseph ofcourse remaining by Rachel's side. After finding shelter in a farm house for a night, they travled ten miles back into Czestochowa, where Joseph came across a Russian Captain named Zalman Brodsky, who was also Jewish. Captain Brodsky told Joseph their army was without a tailor and was in desperate of one, offering Joseph a job. He had nothing to do after being freed and saw this as a good oppertunity. With his wife's reluctant support, Joseph joined with the Russian's, working day and night to gain the troops respect, which he was grateful for to say the least.
This agreement worked very well for Joseph for some time, until there was trouble one day when Cpt. Brodsky was away. Aftering refusing to beleive Mr. Sher was their tailor, a Russian officer mistakenly sent Joseph to a prisoner-of-war camp with 5000 German soldiers awaiting to be sent to Siberia. Luckily Cpt. Brodsky came that night to rescue Joseph. Needless to say Joseph was finished with his time assisting the Russian forces after yet another close encounter with sure death. Life After the War. Finding a New Home After trying first to go back to Rachel's and being greeted by an unsettleing stranger who had since made a home there, they then tried Joseph's former appartment buildings, where they lived for a year or so. They stayed here until a false rumor spread that led to the killing of forty two Jews. After this, Joseph and Rachel travled to Czechoslovakia and stayed there with the Red Cross for four weeks. They crossed the Iron Curtin into the U.S. zone of Germany, where they lived in a Displaced Persons camp while Joseph got a job teaching young girls to sew. They stayed hear until 1949, when they travled to the U.S. by boat, into the port of New Orleans. Beginning New Life in America The journey to America was a difficult trip to handle, as meny of the women aboard became sea sick, and stayed sick in some cases, as long as Rachel, for ten days after port. Being one of the first survivors of the genocide to come to New Orleans, they were interviewed by a newspaper reporter while getting off the boat. A few days after the interview, Joseph received a letter. Unable to read english, he gave it to his cousin to read, only to find out years later what the letter actually said. The letter read "If Hitler did not get you over there we are going to get you here."
Aside from a somewhat unsettling welcome, Joseph ramained in America, feeling happy for his freedom there. Everytime he hears the words "God bless America", he repeats the words to himself, reminding him that nobody will bother him there. Works Cited "Survivor Stories: Joseph Sher." Holocaust Survivors. Web. 27 Mar. 2012.

<http://www.holocaustsurvivors.org/data.show.php?di=record>. "Holocaust Survivor Rescued After Katrina." Conference on Jewish MaterialClaims Against Germany. Web. 27 Mar. 2012. <http://www.claimscon.org/?url=news/katrina>. Surviving Disaster 60 Years Later Over sixty years later, after Joseph was saved from the Nazi death camps, he had another potentially life threatening ordeal. In 2005, at the age of 89, while the city of New Orleans was being evacuated, Mr. Sher made the decision to avoid the crowds filling the shelters put in place during the devastating Hurricane Katrina, in fear of having tramatic flashbacks of the genocide that still seemed all too real. Unfortunately, because of this decision, Joseph Sher became trapped in his appartment for four days, without electricity, drinking water, or a way out of the flooded neighborhood. Yet again, sixty year later, Joseph Sher faced sure death, and survived. Joseph Sher sits at a table in front of family photographs he recovered after the war, in a trash heap in the courtyard of the appartments in which he was staying. He states without these, he would not remember the apperaence of his deceased family members. Photo obtained from http://www.holocaustsurvivors.org Fin. Image courtesy of Google images Krzepice, Poland Father Simon and sister Manya walking
the main street of Czestochowa. Courtesy of holocaustsurvivors.org
Photo Credit: Joseph Sher Synagogue which was set fire by the german army before a ghetto was build in its place Photo Credit: Yad Vashem, courtesy USHMM Joseph and His wife Rachel posing for a photograph while out for a walk on a weekend afternoon before the war. Left to right: Isaac Blitz, Rachel Israelovicz Sher, Joseph Sher, Sara Blitz. Photo Credit: Joseph Sher
Courtesy of holocaustsurvivors.org Joseph Sher teaching others to sew before travling to America Photo Credit: Joseph Sher Courtesy of holocaustsurvivors.org "Joseph Sher." 1 Sept. 2010. Web. <http://dayrizzle.blogspot.ca/2010/09/story-of-joseph-sher.html>. Joseph Sher Image Courtesy of Google Images
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