I was born on May 1, 1929 in Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland. I lived with my parents, and 5 siblings. I was the youngest of six children. I grew up in an observant Jewish family. When the Germans entered Poland on September 1, 1939, I was supposed to enter the 4th grade (which never happened). The family remained intact until August 10, 1942.
The Germans rounded up all of the Jews in the town for a roll call that turned out to be a selection. My parents, along with my oldest sister, Chana, uncles, aunts, cousins, and I were marked for deportation. Three of my sisters and my one brother were retained as forced laborers.
I broke ranks from parents and under machine gun fire joined my other siblings. That was the last time I saw my parents. My parents, Wolf and Rachel Leah Judkiewicz and my four sisters, Chana, Chaya, Yehudit Perel, Rivka, and my one brother Yehuda Leib, were all murdered by the Nazis.
My older brother and I were together throughout the Shoah until we were separated 2 days before liberation. It was during that time that my brother succumbed and died. After Liberation, I recovered in a make-shift hospital in Bergen-Belsen.
In June 1945, the Swedish Red Cross issued a few thousand visas for war orphans. I was relocated to Sweden and lived there for close to 5 years until I obtained my certification as a mechanic. In 1949, I relocated to New York City and lived with a maternal aunt who was fortunate enough to get out before the war. At that time, I took on their family name, Bradin.
In 1954, I married Bella and built a family. I have three children. I have three grandsons. I am also the proud great-grandfather of 2 great-grandchildren.
What does Auschwitz mean to you?
Auschwitz represents only awful memories. It is a cemetery to me. My will to survive Auschwitz was very strong with the hope that maybe someone from my immediate family would survive. Unfortunately, that hope and belief did not come true. At the age of 16, I was left an orphan, to face the world alone.
My message for future generations is…
My message to the future generations is that as Jews we need to hold true to our roots and know who we are. The Jewish people must support a strong State of Israel so that this cannot happen to them again. The global escalation in anti-semitism is extremely disturbing. We must use technology and social media to spread messages of tolerance, inclusion, and as vehicles to extinguish anti-Israel/anti-semitic rhetoric. Join groups. Take action now!
Who will be accompanying you on this journey?
Bill Bradin, my son, and Rebecca Konigsberg, my partner, will be accompanying me on this journey.
Bill Bradin, my son, was born in the Bronx, NY in 1955. After high school, he made Aliya to Israel and served in the IDF. He is a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel (in the Arava Desert), and built a family in Israel: Ditza Igali, his wife, and his two sons . Bill resides in Suffern, NY and was president of Congregation Shaarey Israel.
Rebecca Konigsberg is my partner of ten years. She escaped Poland in 1940 with her parents when she was five years old. They were in Russia (Siberia) during the holocaust. After the war, she was in a DP (Displaced Persons) camp in Babenhausen, Germany where her twin brother and sister were born. Her deceased husband, Willie Konigsberg, was an Auschwitz survivor from Czechoslovakia. Rebecca resides in Bayside, NY, and has two sons, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
*Does not want to be interviewed by the press.