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Hanandel Drobiarz

Sosnowiec, Poland

Hanandel was raised with his three brothers and sisters in the town of Kozlow, where his family sold grain and livestock. The family was religious, and they observed the Sabbath and all Jewish holidays and dietary laws. When Hanandel was 5, he began studying Hebrew, the Bible, prayers, and Jewish history.

1933-39: At age 14 I was apprenticed to my uncle in Sosnowiec as a tinsmith. I worked for my uncle during the day and attended trade school at night. When I graduated from trade school I worked full time as a tinsmith. The Germans occupied Sosnowiec on September 4, 1939. Jews were restricted from leaving the town, but since tinsmithing was a needed skill, I had a pass that allowed me to move about freely in order to do my work.

1940-44: In 1942 I was deported to a labor camp [Plaszow], and after the Germans learned what my trade was I was taken to work at an airplane bomber factory in the city of Mielec. By summer 1944 the Soviets were advancing. The Germans, concerned that skilled laborers might be captured, deported us to the Flossenbürg concentration camp. The Germans removed our clothes, shaved our genitals, and threw lye on our exposed skin. We were sent to stone quarries to work in the hot sun, stark naked, like animals, for an entire week.

Hanandel was liberated by American troops in May 1945. After the war he emigrated to the United States.

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