Lewis Shabasson collection
The photograph collection documents the prewar lives of Lewis Shabasson (born Levi Szabason) and his family in Kozienice, Poland; wartime life in the Kozienice ghetto; and postwar life in the Föhrenwald displaced persons camp and Munich, Germany. The collection also documents the prewar and postwar lives of Lewis’s wife, Lifcia Najman, and her family, originally from Radom, Poland, and her relatives in the Birenbaum family.
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circa 1910-approximately 1948
- Document Creator
- Lewis Shabasson
Levi Itzhak (Lewek) Szabason (now Lewis Shabasson, 1914-2006) was born on 10 March 1914 in Kozienice, Poland to Ezra Zelig Szabason (b. 1881) and Faigal Laja Gruman Szabason. Lewek had four older siblings -- Chaja (b. 1901), Jakub (b. 1903), Motl Mordechai (b. 1908) and Etel (b. 1912), and one younger sister Ruchl (Rosa, b. 1919). His father owned a saw mill and a small construction business. He was also the president of a local Zionist organization. Lewek worked for his father and belonged to the 'Meshek Grochow' group of the General Zionist youth organization.
One week after the German invasion of Poland, they occupied Kozienice. Bargaining that only the men would suffer under the Nazis, Ezra Zelig fled to the Soviet Union with Etel and Motl and their respective spouses. Lewek, Chaja and Ruchl remained in Kozienice with their mother. Jakub also remained behind with his wife and son. The Germans established a ghetto in Kozienice, and Jews were required to wear white armbands and perform slave labor. Lewek worked for a brewery until June 1942, and he smuggled wood into the ghetto in order to have extra money for food. Lewek's older sister, Chaja, convinced him and Ruchl to escape from the ghetto sensing that they were the only two who stood any chance of surviving. Their escape was unsuccessful, and Lewek was taken to the Wolanów labor camp where he worked on an airfield. After one year, he was transferred to the Radom labor camp, where he was forced to work in an ammunition factory. In July 1944 as the Soviet Army approached the vicinity of Radom, he was sent to Auschwitz. From Auschwitz, he was deported to the Wittenberg labor camp near Stuttgart. In March 1945 he was forced on a death march and on 30 April 1945 he was liberated by the US Army.
Chaja, her husband Mordechai Rubinsztajn, and their daughter, Gila (Genusha) perished in Treblinka in 1942. Motl Mordechai, his wife Rozalia, and Etel and her husband Aron Erlichman all had fled Poland in 1939 to the Soviet Union. All four were killed in 1941 after Germany invaded the Soviet Union, as was Etel's infant child. Lewek's father, Zelig, fled to Lvov in September 1939; he perished there after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Lewek's mother, Faigal Laja, was deported to Treblinka in September 1942 and either perished there or en route.
Lewek went back to Kozienice sometime before 1945 and was reunited with his sister Ruchl and his brother Jakub, both of whom had survived the Skarżysko-Kamienna camp. In 1946 they left Poland for Germany, and spent some time in the Föhrenwald and Feldafing DP camps and in Munich. On 27 October 1946, Lewek married a fellow survivor, Lifcia Najman, originally from Radom, Poland. Their daughter, Emily, was born in Munich on 16 January 1948. On 1 October 1948, the Szabason family sailed on board the USS General S.D. Sturgis for the United States. A second daughter, Zella, was born in the US.
Lifcia Najman was born on 26 May 1918 in Radom, Poland to Fruma (née Gotman) and Szmuel Najman. She had two sisters and one brother. Her father worked as a leather broker. Lifcia worked as a seamstress when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. After the Radom ghetto was liquidated in 1942, her parents were deported to the Treblinka extermination camp where they perished. Lifcia was deported to Auschwitz where she worked as a seamstress for the family of a SS officer. She survived in part by stealing dog biscuits intended for the family pet.
- Topical Term
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Poland--Kozienice.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Poland--Radom.
- Geographic Name
Föhrenwald (Germany : Refugee camp)
Feldafing (Germany : Refugee camp)
- Personal Name
Rubinsztajn, Chaja Szabason.
Szabason, Baruch Aron.
Szabason, Tova Orbach.
Rafalowicz, Ruchl Szabason.
Shou, Mala Szabason.
Sandmer, Yetta Szabason.
Shwartzberg, Ida Bron.
Erlichman, Etel Szabason.
Weintraub, Gitl Szabason.
Stock, Ewa Rozencwajg.
Fagen, Tzirilie Gotman.
Najman, Fruma Gotman.
Shabasson, Lifcia Najman.
Birenbaum, Adolf Izak.
Birenbaum, Chaim Henius.
Birenbaum, Mindl Gotman.
Wassersztrum, Dorcia Birenbaum.
Aleksandrowicz, Edzia Birenbaum.
Block, Ethel Fadem.
Silver, Herszl Heniek.
Silver, Edzia Najman.
Waserman, Tsvia Cesia.
Teitelbaum, Luba Frisch.
Wolke, Gitl Najman.
Rosen, Dina Szabason.
Zylber, Perla Berenman.
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by Lewis Shabasson in 1999.
- Conditions on Access
- There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
- Conditions on Use
- Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:11:20
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn518239