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Feliks Bruks

Czarnkow, Poland

Feliks was the only child of Catholic parents living in Czarnkow, a town close to the German border, some 40 miles north of Poznan. Czarnkow was situated on the Notec River. Feliks' parents owned a mineral water, soda and beer factory. They delivered their goods by horse and wagon to towns throughout the area. His parents also owned a restaurant and 120 acres of farmland.

1933-39: In 1937 I entered the University of Poznan to study pharmacy. My education was cut short when the German army invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Part of civil defense forces on the border, I fell back with the Polish army towards Warsaw to fight the Wehrmacht. In late September, I was one of thousands of soldiers captured and held in a field by the German army. After three days, I escaped and returned to Czarnkow via Poznan.

1940-45: Arrested in 1943 for working in the underground, I was sentenced to hard labor and deported to Gross-Rosen. I survived a grueling month in "quarantine," where 400 men in our barracks died. I got pneumonia and had to go to the infirmary. Of the camp's five infirmaries, two were "safe;" there was a chance of recovering and returning to a work detail. Being in any of the other three almost inevitably meant death. A connection helped me get into a "safe" infirmary. When I recovered, I became an orderly there.

Feliks was one of 2,400 survivors of a six-day, open-car transport of 5,500 prisoners to Austria in February 1945. Liberated in May, he emigrated to the United States in 1951.

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