Survivor STORY

Michal Szlam was born in 1914 in Gwozdziec, Galicia, Poland, which is now in the Ukraine, but during the First World War, was part of Austria. His mother died when he was five, and his father died a few years later. Michal was apprenticed to a tailor, learned the trade and moved to Warsaw. In Warsaw, he worked as a designer of women's clothing.

In 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland, Michal went back to Gwozdiec, which fell under Russian control through the Hitler-Stalin pact. In 1941, when the Germans broke the pact and started invading eastward, Michal volunteered for the Soviet Army. Just before he left, he organized three wagons to take his wife and daughter, and the families of his two brothers, among others, into Russia.

Michal was a decorated soldier in the Russian army, having fought from Stalingrad to Berlin during the war. He was also forced to help build roads through the mountains near Lake Baikal.

After the war, Michal returned to Poland to discover that most of his family, including his wife and child, had been murdered during the Holocaust. Michal remarried, and he and his wife, Sabina, have two sons, Roman and Alexander. Michal made his home in Atlanta, also the home of his brother, Leopold and his family. Michal died after a prolonged struggle with cancer in November of 2000.

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Michal Szlam