Moshe Kantorwicz describes conditions in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Moshe Kantorowicz was born in 1923, in Shereshow, Poland. Of the town’s approximately 5,000 inhabitants, nearly 2,000 were Jewish. Having received a business permit from the Polish government, Moshe’s father, Issac, and his mother, Esther, ran a small liquor store in the town. Moshe recalled his town being a peaceful place until the death of Józef Piłsudski, the “First Marshall of Poland” in 1930. Slowly, some of the anti-Jewish laws and sentiments from Nazi Germany began to affect the non-Jewish population in Shereshow.
During the Second World War, the area Moshe lived in was under the control of the Soviet Union until 1941. Life was difficult but changed decidedly for the worst when Germany declared war on the Soviet Union in June 1941. Under Nazi German occupation, the town was subjected to harsh anti-Jewish measures, and all the Jewish inhabitants were deported to a labour camp in August 1941. Eventually, Moshe was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In January 1945, Moshe was part of a death march to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. In May 1945, he was liberated by the American Armed Forces.
Moshe immigrated to Canada in 1948 and shortly thereafter relocated to St. John’s, Newfoundland. He remained there for over 30 years. Moshe was active in Holocaust education, speaking to school and university students about his experiences. He became an active speaker at the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre (then Holocaust Centre of Toronto) after he and his wife moved to Toronto. His contribution to education was recognized when he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LL.D) by Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1995.
Moshe Kantorowicz died in 2008 and his full testimony is part of the Canadian Collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies. It is preserved in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive and accessible through the Ekstein Library.
We were standing all day long shivering, in cold.
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