Manek Werdiger was born Manek Springut, in Krakow, Poland to Nathan and Malka Springut. He had an older brother named Henryk and an older sister named Teresa. Born into a Jewish middle class family, Manek attended private Jewish schools, and graduated months before Germany invaded Poland. The Springut family stayed together in Krakow, where they were forced into labor until March 1941, when they were forced into the Krakow ghetto. In October 1942, Jews were brought out into the street where the Gestapo separated the young from the old and weak. Nathan and Malka Springut were separated from their children, and sent to Belzec where they perished. The Springut children remained in the ghetto until March 1943, where they were sent to the Płaszów concentration camp. Henryk was murdered several months later after being accused of stealing food. In August 1944, Manek was sent to Mauthausen to work in a factory. He then told officers he was a mechanic, and was sent to St. Valentin to work in a factory. After an allied bombing, Manek was left injured and sent back to Mauthausen. Once he had somewhat recovered, Manek was sent on a death march to Gunskirchen, where he remained for several weeks. At one point, the guards had left and U.S. forces liberated the camp. Manek was sent to the Polish displaced persons camp in Linz, where he got typhus. Manek survived, but learned that the rest of his family did not. While at Linz he met Ilona Mandel, and married her in 1948. Manek worked as an accountant for the Joint Distribution Committee, before immigrating to the United States in 1949.
Ilona Werdiger was born in 1925 in Przemysl, Poland. In 1939, as war broke out in Poland, Przemysl was divided in two and occupied by the Germans and Soviets, and Ilona lived under Soviet control. In June, 1941, Germany invaded and the Jews were placed in ghettos. Illona’s family paid another family to hide them in the meantime. They lived with the family until the end of 1943, when they were given up to the Gestapo. Ilona was separated and she never saw her parents again. Ilona was put on a cattle train, but managed to climb out of a hole and jumped from the moving train. As she landed, she was knocked unconscious until the night when she woke up and walked back to Przemysl, where she stayed with a family friend. In February 1944, the remaining Jews were gathered and Ilona was sent to Płaszów for six months, before then moving to Auschwitz and later Birkenau. She then worked at a munitions factory in Chemnitz, Germany, where she could hear the front lines of the war coming closer. As the armies neared, Ilona was sent to Theresienstadt to be killed, but the Red Cross had taken over the camp by the time of her arrival. She left the camp and stayed in Prague where she learned her family was killed. On a trip to visit a friend in the Polish displaced persons camp in Linz, she met Manek Werdiger and married him in 1948, before moving to the United States in 1949.