Chava Sloma was born in Otwock, Poland in 1925. Though she recalled incidents of anti-Semitism, she said her prewar life was for the most part good. All that changed dramatically in September 1939 though; the family initially fled to Warsaw, but as the German army advanced, the decision was made to separate, and Chava and her sister headed for the Russian border. After being smuggled across the border, Chava and her sister Frania were shipped to Siberia, where they spent most of the war, working in the gulags deep in the wilderness. While conditions were rough, Chava remembered the kindness of a few people who kept her going, through disease and deprivation. When the war came to an end, she made her way back to Poland, to discover that her family had been murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka. Chava found the will to go on, and she married and began a family, soonafter heading to Canada, where she arrived at Pier 21.
Chava visited Crestwood in February 2016, where four generations of the Lerner family came together one afternoon to listen to and to document her story, and to become witnesses to their own family history in this difficult period of history.
Oral History Project March 6th, 2016
Mel Goldberg was born in the summer of 1942, in Baila Rawska, Warsaw. He had two brothers and one sister, but none survived the war. Mel’s town was liquidated in 1942 , and the family was sent to Treblinka, a death camp located in Poland. Mel’s father had given his newborn son to a local cobbler to protect him. Because of that Mel was the only member of his family to survive, though he has few direct memories of the time. When the war was over, Mel spent time in an orphanage – and it was there that the news of his survival came to light, and distant relatives searched for hi. Mel was able several years later to move to Toronto, where he began his new life.
Mel was originally interviewed for this project in the February 2014 by Josh Weisbrod. In December 2017 he visited us at Crestwood, sitting down for a second interview with Ken Wu, Max Wolburgh, and Canyon Li.
Oral History Project May 21st, 2014