without hope you didn’t survive
Joe grew up in the small town of Pilica, Poland. The oldest of six boys, he was the only member of his family to survive. Joe was sent to Auschwitz with his family and was there for 17 months before being sent to several other camps and escaping from the infamous Plasow camp near Cracow. He was liberated from Buchenwald in 1945 by American troops.
You needed three things to survive a concentration camp: luck, strength and hope. In the camps hunger was constant. Joe was beaten unconscious by a guard for stealing potatoes. If you were skin and bones you didn’t have a chance. “I was small, but I was very strong and I tried to keep up my strength.” Joe also never gave up hope. “Those who gave up hope didn’t last. My goal was to sit at a table and eat a loaf of bread. You had to have hope.”
Joe’s friendly demeanor is infectious. Everyone calls him Uncle Joe. “My strength saved me. I believe you have to have a good attitude and be nice.”