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Five brothers pose in a row on the banks of the river in Plock.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 66113

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    Five brothers pose in a row on the banks of the river in Plock.
    Five brothers pose in a row on the banks of the river in Plock.

Pictured from left to right are Yosef, Aaron, Srulek, Matek, and Elek Arbeiter.


    Five brothers pose in a row on the banks of the river in Plock.

    Pictured from left to right are Yosef, Aaron, Srulek, Matek, and Elek Arbeiter.
    Circa 1933 - 1935
    Plock, [Warsaw] Poland
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Israel Arbeiter

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Israel Arbeiter
    Source Record ID: Collections: 2006.4

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Israel (Srulek) Arbeiter is the son of Yitzchak Arbeiter and Hugara Malenka Arbeiter. He was born on April 25, 1925 in Plock, Poland, where his father worked as a tailor. Srulek had two older brothers, Eliash (Elek), born in 1919; and Matek (Mack), born in 1923. He also had two younger brothers, Aaron, born in 1927, and Yosef, born in 1929. The boys attended Polish schools but spoke Yiddish at home and belonged to a Zionist organization. After Germany invaded Poland in September 1940 a small ghetto was established. Jews were ordered to wear a yellow star in November 1940, and Srulek's oldest brother Elek then fled to the Soviet Union. The following February 1941, German authorities declared Plock to be Judenrein. The Arbeiters were sent first to a transit camp in Soldowo for about two weeks and then to the ghetto in Starachowice in March 1941. All six family members shared one room. Srulek's father, Yitzchak Arbeiter, obtained a sewing machine so that he could continue working, and the boys obtained various odd jobs from the Judenrat. Then in October 27, 1942 Starachowice ceased to exist as a ghetto. Srulek's parents and youngest brother Yosef were deported to Treblinka where they perished. The older three sons remained in Starachowice, which had become a slave labor camp, and were given work in the Hermann Goering Wereke, an ammunition factory. At one point, Srulek contracted typhoid fever. The camp officials denied him normal rations and would have left him to die. Srulek recovered due to the kindness of a woman in the kitchen who gave Matek extra food to give to him. In July 1944, the Germans liquidated the camp and transported all the workers to Auschwitz. For the first time since the war had broken out, Srulek became separated from his two surviving brothers. From Auschwitz, Srulek was sent first to Stutthof and then to Tailfingen and Stuttgart. After these cites were bombed by the Americans in the end of December, he was shipped to Dautmergen to work in a factory to extract oil from shale. Srulek worked there almost until the end of the war when American bombers also destroyed this plant. At the end of April Srulek, along with approximately 2000 other prisoners, was forced on a death march through the Black Forest. After a few days they met up with soldiers from the Free French army who brought the survivors to an abandoned school in Sigmaringen, a town on the outskirts of the forest. After a few days, the soldiers brought them to Dautmergen and ordered the villagers to care for the survivors and provide them with clean clothes and food. After he had recuperated, Srulek went to the Stuttgart DP camp where he learned that his younger brother Aaron had survived and was currently in Feldafing DP camp. He also heard that Chana (Hanka) Balter, the woman who had saved his life in Starachowice, had also survived and was living in Bergen-Belsen. Srulek expropriated a motorcycle from a German so that he could drive to Belsen to thank her for her kindness. While on route, American MPs arrested him for owning a motorcycle and he was interrogated by OSS. However, a Jewish officer discovered who he was and wrote out a pass allowing Srulek to ride the vehicle anywhere. He continued on his way and found Chana.

    Chana (Hanka) Balter (now Anna Arbeiter) is the daughter of Mordechai and Faige Balter. She was born in Lodz on December 16, 1925. Her father had died in the Lodz ghetto, and her mother and four siblings -- Miriam, Marya, Pesha and Yankel - were murdered in Treblinka the same day as Srulek's parents. Two other brothers, Yitzchak and Asher, survived in the Soviet Union. After reuniting with Srulek, Chana decided to return with him to the American zone. They went to Feldafing to find Aaron and while they were there they met someone who told them that Mack had survived and was living in Bari preparing to immigrate to Palestine. After learning that his two younger brothers were still alive, he changed his plans and joined them. Srulek's mother, Hugara Malenka, had two sisters and a brother who had immigrated to America at the turn of the century. One aunt, Anna Gron, lived in Boston and sent frequent packages and letters to her nephews. She brought Aaron to the States in 1948, then sponsored Chana and Srulek in 1949 and Mack in 1950. Over the years, she became like a mother to the Arbeiter boys.
    Record last modified:
    2006-05-09 00:00:00
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