'I  there was no-one from my family to search for at the war’s end'

S.G. was born in Tarnow in South-East Poland, a town with a thriving Jewish community of 35,000. In September 1939 the city came under the German occupation and soon after the whole Jewish community of Tarnow was placed in a closed ghetto. In subsequent deportations the Jews of Tarnow were sent to death camps or murdered in the vicinity of the town. When he was fourteen years old, S.G.’s  parents were murdered in the crematoria of the death camp at Belzec. He himself managed to avoid death.

In the following two years until he was sixteen years old, he underwent a harrowing journey through Krakow Plaszow, Gross Rosen and Falkenberg concentration camps, a death march towards Mauthausen concentration camp and finally Ebansee concentration camp, where he was liberated by the American army. After liberation S.G. spent a while recovering in a hospital, soon after however he was on his way again. He was transported to Italy, where he went through a number of DP camps to finally settle in Barletta in September 1947. 'I  there was no-one from my family to search for at the war’s end'- he recalled.

Thanks partly to his command of English, which enabled him to liaise with the British military administration; S.G. was appointed secretary for the ORT schools in his camps. Eventually, aged only 18, he was running the whole ORT operation in Barletta as Acting Director, overseeing over 300 students enrolled in the school. He even found time to do one of its courses, agronomy, which had been hurriedly introduced to allow Jews to acquire skills as farm workers which would then qualify them for a visa to America. In 1949, G. finally received his visa to America and made his way to California to join his fiancée, whom he had met in the Italian DP camp. [1]

[1] Source: World ORT Archive: S.G. interviewed by Katarzyna Person, June 2009