Simon Breitstein (1917-1994) was born in 1917 to Szlama Breitstein (1888-1945) and Laja Sumrai Breitstein (1892-1936) in Łódź, Poland. Simon had 3 sisters, Edzia Fajn (1914-1945), Sala Szefner (1914-1945), and Gina Wyszegrodzki (1926-1988) and one brother, Beniek (1922-1945).
Szlama Breitstein, a ladies tailor, was the proprietor of business on Czernika Street in which many of the Breitstein children, as well as extended relatives, were employed. Due to a successful business, Szlama was able to send Simon and his siblings to local public schools and private Jewish gymnasiums in Łódź. While Edzia, Sala, and Simon were able to complete their education before the war, Beniek and Gina’s education was interrupted following the German occupation of the city.
After the formation of the Łódź ghetto, Simon lived with his father, siblings (Beniek, Gina, and Sala), and brother-in-law, Artur Szefner, at 28 Cranach Street. After completing Gymnasium Simon’s younger brother Beniek received a position as a ghetto policeman and was occasionally able to help his family by giving them extra bread. In August 1944, during the liquidation of the Łódź ghetto, Simon was arrested after attempting to evade the round-up by hiding in the cellar of a house with his aunt and two cousins. As a consequence Simon was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Several days later, Szlama and Beniek arrived at Auschwitz on a separate transport from Łódź. Although Simon had the opportunity to see and speak with his father and brother, they were assigned to separate barracks. Soon after Simon was sent from Auschwitz to the Flossenbürg concentration camp. As he was marched away, Simon had an opportunity to see and speak with his father one last time. After liberation Simon returned to Łódź in the hopes of being reunited with his family. However, only Simon and Gina survived the Holocaust. Simon ultimately left Poland and returned briefly to Germany where he spent several months recuperating his health. Simon lived in various displaced persons camps in Germany, including Neu Freimann and Zeilsheim before immigrating to the United States in 1949.