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March 15, 1996 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-03-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Haberkorn returned to his child-
hood home. His own family had
perished. But he stayed for a time
and visited the only remaining
synagogue in town to inquire
about friends and relatives who
had trickled back to Lvov.
One day, he spotted a young
woman in a Russian military uni-
form, a woman he recognized as
a little girl from his childhood.
"I remember you. You were al-
ways with girlfriends in the park,"
he told the woman.
"I didn't remember him,"
Bertha Haberkorn confides now.
"But I noticed him."
They were married in 1945 and
arrived in the United States six
years later. They raised two
daughters, who produced four
grandchildren.
In August, when Josh has his
bar mitzvah at Congregation
Shaarey Zedek, it will mark the
third time the Haberkorns have
witnessed a grandchild's passage
into adulthood. Joshua's sister
Ava is 11.
It is a miracle, they say. And
a responsibility.
"Now is the time to do this,"
Bertha Haberkorn said of their
decision to share their story. "We
love Joshua very much. He's a
very dear grandson to us."
Mr. Haberkorn, sadly but res-
olutely, has reached the same con-
clusion.
"I have to remember to give a
tear, too," he said. "He's my grand-
son. He has to know." ❑

Holocaust survivors —
whether in camps, or not —
who wish to share their expe-
rience with the center's John
J. Mames Oral History De-
pat tilient should call (810) 661-
0840. The center is also
interested in the testimony of
liberators and non-Jews who
helped save Jewish lives. The
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Bertha and Joseph Haberkorn recorded their Holocaust memories as a bar mitzvah
gift to grandson Joshua.

ed soldiers to medics. She received
wounds to her face and arm in one
attack, and kept a lethal dose of
drugs in her belongings in case
she was ever captured by the
Nazis.
With tears welling in her eyes,
she described skeletons left be-
hind by the Nazis at the Maj-
danek death camp. "Even the
earth was with blood in some
places," she whispered in a thick
Polish accent.
And she recalled her unbridled
joy when the Germans surren-
dered.
"We were in Berlin," she said
in the video. "There was such a
happiness, we didn't know what
to do with ourselves."
Joseph Haberkorn, meanwhile,
had left school in Lvov to become
a sheet-metal worker. In October
1941, he was sent to the Janows-
ka labor camp where he was
starved and beaten along with
other prisoners.
"In such a situation, you've got
no friends; everybody fends for
themselves," he said matter-of-
factly.
He was later transferred to
Kurowice, where workers who fal-
tered or took sick were systemat-
ically shot by the guards.
"I tried not to be sick," he said.
In June 1943, he was part of
a small band of prisoners who
escaped the camp. They hid in
the woods from June until April.
One comrade died of disease.
Mr. Haberkorn labored with ty-
phus.
"Since I was in the labor camps
I am not the same person any-
more," he recently wrote in a jour-
nal. "I am a broken man,
physically and emotionally."
Thinking back, he still has no
explanation for why he survived.
But he vividly recalls the words
of an older Jewish inmate, who
assured him that he would one
day become free because he was
young and yearned to start his
own family. Somehow, he hung
on.
When the war ended, Joseph

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