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Abe Lowe

Abe Lowe | Lodz, Poland
Nationality: Polish
Location: Auschwitz Concentration Camp • Dachau Concentration Camp • Germany • Lodz • Poland
Experience During Holocaust: Family Died During the Holocaust • Family Died in Ghetto • Lived in a Displaced Persons camp • Lived in Lodz Ghetto • Sent to Ghetto

Mapping Abe's Life

Click on the location markers to learn more about Abe. Use the timeline below the map or the left and right keys on your keyboard to explore chronologically. In some cases the dates below were estimated based on the oral histories.

“Everybody, when you are in the conditions like this, you are not treated like a human. You live like an animal, you know, and you work like an animal. So, you get used to it. You cannot or you died, or they killed you.” - Abe Lowe

Read Abe's Oral History Transcripts

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Tape 1 - Side 1

PRINCE: Today is October 28, 2003. My name is Vida “Sister” Prince, and I am interviewing Mr. Abe Lowe for the Oral Histories Project for the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. [tape cuts] Mr. Lowe, we just talked a few minutes ago and I said that what I wanted to know was mainly how you grew up, what life was like, and when you lived in Lodz. And do you pronounce it…?
LOWE: Ghetto.
PRINCE: Ghetto?
LOWE: G-H-E-double T- O.
PRINCE: But, Lodz, do you pronounce it…?
LOWE: Lodz.
PRINCE: Lodz, Lodz, okay.
LOWE: It is a L-O-D-Z, and the Z has a point on the top, is Lodz.
LOWE: Z, a Z.
LOWE: And the Z has a point on the top that has a zee.
LOWE: Lodz.
PRINCE: Lodz, well, start with telling me… and then you were in the Lodz ghetto.
LOWE: Ghetto, yes.
PRINCE: And deported to, to?
LOWE: Auschwitz and Dachau.
PRINCE: Auschwitz and Dachau, start with when you were born, and who lived in your home, and somewhat about your family life, and your parents?
LOWE: I was born in Lodz, and raised in Lodz. I went to cheder, I went to school. When the World War came, when the Germans occupied Poland, this was the worstest thing in my life.
PRINCE: You were born in 1916, is that correct?
LOWE: 1913.
PRINCE: 1913? Okay. So, well then, tell me about the worst time in your life?
LOWE: The life is very awful . First of all, Lodz was a big town. Three million people. They took Jewish people and they put them in the worstest part of the Lodz, which was _______ broken,you know? And that’s where we have to live, and pay rent, and go to work every day in the morning. And the portions was the worstest thing, we couldn’t get any food.
PRINCE: Any what?
LOWE: Portions, food, food was portioned.
LOWE: And _____ was no food at all. They gave us a portion that you could not live by it. And this portion, sometimes you have to break and give your own mother and father and sister, cause they haven’t got enough. They’ve been sick, they’ve been broken. And medication was, medical health was no, absolutely nothing. There was no doctors, no nurses, no hospitals. Each can depend on who’s helping us. And that’s why people have been dying very very easily. Whole families died for hunger. That was the worstest thing, and every day we were taken to work, hundreds were laying, laying, the railroads.
LOWE: The roads, you know?
LOWE: I mean, this is whole _____ heavy. We were broken, hungry, and we have to do it. And they gave us our soup. That was the only thing what they gave us. And a little piece of bread.
PRINCE: Mr. Lowe, what did your father do before…?
LOWE: My father, my father was a tailor.
PRINCE: A tailor?
LOWE: A special tailor, making the measurements. He specializes, specially for the Hasidic people who has been __________ couple all kind of things.
PRINCE: Uh-huh. And if you were born in 1913, so that would be, you were 26 years old?
LOWE: Me? No.
PRINCE: No, when the….?
LOWE: Seventies or so.
PRINCE: No, no no. When the, uh, when the ghetto was formed, approximately?
LOWE: Oh. When the ghetto was formed I was in the thirties, I think.
PRINCE: In the what?
LOWE: In the thirties.
PRINCE: In the thirties? So, what did you…
LOWE: Maybe younger.
PRINCE: What did you do before the war?
LOWE: I been a designer and a dressmaker.
PRINCE: Dressmaker.
LOWE: That was my profession.
PRINCE: So, uh.
LOWE: I’ve been working on Washington Avenue for twenty years as a designer for women’s dresses, skirts, blouses, and all kind of things.
PRINCE: Who did you work for?
LOWE: For big companies on Washington Avenue. Whole Washington Avenue. Each house has got more than one, three factories.
PRINCE: Well, I was wondering, I know that Lodz was a…
LOWE: Lodz was all of the biggest in this resale places. And Lodz was factories in a lot of fabric for making material.
PRINCE: But I was wondering if you were able to be, use any of those skills that you have in that, when the ghetto started?
LOWE: When the ghetto started, we been under wire, the electric wire. You could not go out and not go in. Depends on everything they give you, what they want to give you. So first of all, they making us work for them.
PRINCE: Yes, but they made uniforms and everything?
LOWE: Oh yeah. For the whole armies uniforms was made in the ghetto.
PRINCE: Yeah, so you were able to, you weren’t able to get involved in that factory kind of work?
LOWE: That’s what I did.
PRINCE: In the ghetto?
LOWE: In the ghetto, yes. My father was a tailor, a good tailor. And I notice, or I been working, and I myself was specialized in woman’s clothing.
PRINCE: Well, Mr. Lowe, when you first went in, what was the first work that you did when you went into the ghetto?
LOWE: First of all, they steel and roped the whole world, the Germans, and brought the material to Lodz. Because this time was a war, and material was hard to get, and they know over there they would have for nothing. So they got, and we got big tables and electric machines for cutting, and making markers, and cutting the material, and sewing, and they special girls _______ lenders and sew it. And finish it and press it, and we were always living on the, the worstest conditions.
PRINCE: And what were those conditions?
LOWE: Those conditions was they did not let you have your own will to do nothng, to do anything. You were always on the, on sombody’s, depending on somebody to treat you. And they treat us like animals. And they give you a piece of bread and a cup like coffee.
PRINCE: And who was in the ghetto with you, your family, your mother and your?
LOWE: My mother, father, sisters, brothers, everybody was there. And they very well sometimes cause there was no food. And these people who did not work, was the worstest, because they haven’t got any food. Those, they got, we have to our food which we got, we had to split with them.
PRINCE: How difficult, how…
LOWE: And everybody was waiting to get a coupon, and everyday we got a coupon for the soup. That was the most important thing, and this was dealing. But by a ring, or a earring, or something. Would buy things like this, people were at it.
PRINCE: Well, when you first went into the ghetto, did anybody have… what were you told? What were you, can you tell me about that part of it? They came to your house?
LOWE: They didn’t told you nothing. They just made a place, and put around it a wire, a shtechel wire, a wire with points, as you hurt yourself, don’t touch it, you know.
LOWE: And they put it all around the ghetto and that’s how they got the Lodz ghetto.
PRINCE: Did you originally live near where the ghetto was?
LOWE: I lived in the ghetto.
PRINCE: No, no, no. Before, before, before the war.
LOWE: They, they, they concentrated all the Jews in the ghetto.
PRINCE: Right.
LOWE: So they took them when they live outside, they put them in the ghetto.
PRINCE: How did they take you? By truck? Did you walk?
LOWE: They just came during the night, and they woke you up, and with police, and with the. And they put us in the one, big big _______ and they took us in the ghetto concentration camp, that’s all. Put us in the shtalrodt. And keep us over there as long as they wanted, they didn’t ever freed us. Everyday in the morning, woke up like a soldier, stand in line until we got the black coffee, and then they take you work. Any hard hard work, taking apart big buildings, cause in this time there were a lot bombardments. It the bombing, the Germans were bombing Poland, so the houses and everything was just because they’d been bombing. So we had to take, most of us had been sitting and cleaning brick from the fallen houses because as they couldn’t make, they couldn’t build houses because they couldn’t make the building places. So we have to break it in pieces, and clean it, and make it useful so they can build different kind of things as they need it. And most of the people which haven’t gotten any, any thing which they do, shoemakers or people should be tailors, or something like this. They brought from other places materials they steal and rob and all the Germans wherever they occupied and brought it to the ghetto. And over there they made it with all kind of clothing that they needed for themselves. And they would have nothing over there, just for a piece of bread and a little soup.
PRINCE: Um. So your mother and your father and you.
LOWE: They died in the ghetto.
PRINCE: Your parents died in the ghetto?
LOWE: Yes. They died in the ghetto. They couldn’t. And all their person it was impossible that they could. The conditions how we’ve been living and the food was they giving you. You could not survive. No question. (pause) Cause they treat you like animals.
PRINCE: It’s, It’s it’s hard to even know, you know, like what to say to you because it is so terrible. And I look at you, and I look in your eyes, and I imagine, I can’t even imagine what you’ve seen.
LOWE: It is. They treat us awful. ___ like, live like an animal. Not in a regular house, nor in a tent. Not having regular food, or sleeping well. And not having a doctor which you needed. And got ____ when you got sick. There was nobody could help you.
PRINCE: It’s like, it’s a shock to you, to every part of you?
LOWE: Oh boy. Who could be? And g-d help us because even with us, and whatever we could, we did, that’s all to help ourself. Even stealing, whatever you could eat. I remember even stealing food from… we got, we been, they have over there watchdogs, watching us. So we even stealing the food from the dogs. You could, cause they’ve been watching the dogs are even hungry too.
PRINCE: Sure, sure. Did you sleep? I mean were you so exhausted, or?
LOWE: We been sleeping in tents. On a straw or on the ground. And it was in the, very badly treated and the food was a soup with a piece of bread.
PRINCE: I understand they had, some, you know, Rumkowski?
LOWE: Rumkowski was ________. Rumkowski was the head of the whole ghetto.
PRINCE: Yeah, did they call it a Judenrat?
LOWE: A Juden— it was a Judenrat. But the Judenrat had the same right as I got. They couldn’t do nothing whatever, and they wanted so much to give it to us but they say no we don’t have bread enough so they took away half of it. They gave it and that’s it you have to live it.
PRINCE: Yeah. So, but there was at first, they set up different like agencies and tried to…?
LOWE: No, no. We were treated like prisoners.
PRINCE: No I meant the Jews themselves. No I know you were treated that way by the Germans, but…..
LOWE: Nobody treated us like the Germans. See, see they can do what ever they want and nobody can say to them that’s not right.
PRINCE: When did you know, when did you learn that… I mean, there must have been, there was so much going on there were rumors, I would imagine. People were telling one thing, and this was going to happen, and…
LOWE: We were always ahead of everybody, we were always thinking of somewhat something else. Even having, let’s say every eight days, there was a list what you will get for food. So that was our day in. How much bread you would have, how much milk you would get, if you get somebody who needed the milk very badly, a child, you know, cause they gave a little bit milk. Older people they were taking out and destroy them. It was older people couldn’t work, so people who did not work don’t have to eat, that’s all.
PRINCE: So food was it?
LOWE: Oh boy.
PRINCE: That was it.
LOWE: That was it. Piece of bread was life.
PRINCE: Some people thought it was so bad they wanted to be deported somewhere because they thought their resettlement was better, going to be better?
LOWE: Everybody, when you are in the conditions like this, you are not treated like a human. You live like an animal, you know, and you work like an animal. So, you get used to it. You cannot or you died, or they killed you.
PRINCE: When did you know where people were being sent away to?
LOWE: We never knew where we would be sent. We went when they come to take us to work, or let us return from the work, and they took us to the hardest work, which they, cause they haven’t got people for working on the industry, you know. So they took us sometimes some places, they took us to ground they had with shovels. There, a man which has a ground, what they call it, no, a – a….grun…
PRINCE: A gun?
LOWE: Yeah. He has machines to work, you know. Machines, even the machines, we were working all by hand, grounding.
PRINCE: You were the machines?
LOWE: Yeah. Grounding the earth, planting the things, and taking out the things. And that was our job to do for them. And you couldn’t do it, you couldn’t get any food, so…
PRINCE: Yeah. (pause) I’m talking about deportations, when people were put on the trains…
LOWE: oh boy.
PRINCE: and sent away?
LOWE: We didn’t know, that these loads will never come back. And we had a way how to find out, because a lot of clothing which the people had been killed, destroyed, had been sent back to the ghetto, of the people you know? And they give us the clothing. Had no clothing to give us but the clothing from these people. We know what happened with these people. We sometimes found in this clothing letters that the Jews had written what they happen and how they been killed in the gas chambers, and how they been treated. Because as they were bringing, the people who died, they were bring the clothing.
PRINCE: They brought the clothing back to you? The Germans brought the clothing?
LOWE: Yes. Because they, they will not throw them away. They know this clothing can be used. So they brought it to us, and we found in the clothing whats happened over there. So we know the story, we didn’t know where they going, but when they brought the clothing, we found in the clothing. Sewed in. Sewed in in different kind of places.
PRINCE: Sewed in.
LOWE: That’s how we find out what’s happened when they take you out from the ghetto.
PRINCE: Mr. Lowe, did they bring the clothing back to you to work on and redo for their purpose?
LOWE: That’s why. First of all, they gave us the clothing to see if we, if the clothing was private clothing for other people they brought, took away. So, we have to look in the clothing…
PRINCE: I know. Mr. Lowe, I’m talking about. Were you working in a factory when they did this? Or…
LOWE: Not in a factory, we just been in a shack. In a shack we been.
PRINCE: In a shack?
LOWE: And over there, they were bringing clothing for us, to look into the clothing because they know the people are putting money and gold and silver. So we have to find it.
PRINCE: Oh I see. That’s it. You’re just going through it to check it for them.
LOWE: Oh yes.
PRINCE: Okay, I understand now, Sorry. Okay. (pause) Well. That must have been unbelievable.
LOWE: This is indescribable. We went through.
PRINCE: Yeah it really is. It really is.
LOWE: And people would ask me. How come so many thousand died, and you still alive? I say, G-d wanted to have a witness. So tell the truth what happened.
PRINCE: That’s right.
LOWE: And he got witnesses, but very little witnesses.
PRINCE: How about your, the rest of your family? How did they…?
LOWE: They were always suffering because they haven’t got any food. And we have to steal any little thing that you can eat. On the ground, a raw potato, raw vegetables, and put it in the pants, and the pants was closed because we put the wire on the bottom. So we could put it in and bring it home, and __________ give it to eat. Potatoes, tomatoes, different kind of vegetables. This is what we’ve been stealing it. If they caught you, they cut your head off! But, you did it.
PRINCE: It’s the energy, the thought, the tension, that made a….
LOWE: It’s food, food. Eating, you want to live, you know. You want to breathe. You want to stay alive. You do whatever they told you. And they told you to do things you never would have imagined you could do it. Even half-dead people, you know. They would, we were laying railroads, steel railroad…
PRINCE: Tracks?
LOWE: Tracks. Yes. They need ten people to lift, they have to ask a hundred people to lift it. (chuckle)
PRINCE: A hundred people?
LOWE: To lift it. Because they couldn’t do it.
PRINCE: Yeah. Yeah.
LOWE: And somebody with a pastch stand behind you and watch what you doing.
PRINCE: With a what?
LOWE: With a pastch, you know.
PRINCE: A whip?
LOWE: A special whip, you know?
PRINCE: Yeah. (pause) So you just tried to…?
LOWE: Do the best. Not to be whipped. So we have to do it.
PRINCE: Could you maintain a friend, friends and any…?
LOWE: What do you mean maintain?
PRINCE: Well, can you, did you, you were so busy trying to stay alive, trying to work…
LOWE: Yes. Everybody wants to stay alive.
PRINCE: Uh-huh. So was there any time for talking to people or?
LOWE: There was no way. I remember times when we, we’ve been brought to work, most of the time we were brought in groups, and the groups had been going all where. So most of the time, a lot of the time, we been finding food on the way which people throw at us. They know that we will go through it and find a piece of bread, an apple, or a… some kind of vegetable.
PRINCE: Through the fence?
LOWE: Yeah. That was the Germans.
PRINCE: From the outside?
LOWE: The outside, yes. They would throw in things on the trucks. They know we would go through every day to work. So we always find things like this. A little bit of food to help us.
PRINCE: Hmm. So there were some…
LOWE: Not all had been… not all of them were animals.
LOWE: And some understand those human beings, and they tried to help us.
PRINCE: Hmm. Not enough. So they took you in trucks to work?
LOWE: That’s right. Everyday. We had to wake up, and wait till they come and took you to the truck, and brought you to the place where there is work. Most of the work was working in the country, helping the people who were growing things. Seeding them, and planting. Taking out which was growing and vegetables. All kinds.
PRINCE: So you were working on other people’s farms? On non…
LOWE: Yes. Farms. Farm-people, they haven’t gotten any workers.
PRINCE: Non-Jewish farmers?
LOWE: Oh yes. Non-Jewish farmers. Sure. All Germans.
PRINCE: And did they, did?
LOWE: Some of them, I remember, some of them have been very, very nice. Cause they got big farms, they haven’t got nobody to work. And we been the ones who been working. So they tried to help us. They sit down by the tables, they give everybody bread, as much as you wanted to eat. And they give you a piece of bread when you left the work. But very seldom, someone was having a little hard of feeling.
PRINCE: For you to, I don’t know we haven’t talked about your early life. But I see from coming in here this morning, you’re a religious man, and…
LOWE: Yes. I been learned like this. I went to cheder, I went to the Rabbi. I can put down Hebrew and Yiddish, writing and reading.
PRINCE: So, for you to?
LOWE: Communicate.
PRINCE: To communicate to, to have to do some of the things that you did, just to stay alive, must have astounded you that you were able to do that.
LOWE: The best we can. The best that we can do that. I got a little bit help, I could speak German perfect.
LOWE: Like a German himself. And the German officers liked to talk with me. How you come _________ isel spitch deutch? _____ (speaking German) And they were wondering a Jew can speak Deutch? That’s an animal, how can he speak Deutch?
PRINCE: Yeah. And what did they speak about with you?
LOWE: Once in a while they make a joke. You know. They talk, and they see that I can speak, especially me, I was raised with Germans and I know German. Perfect. Reading and Writing. (Laughing)
PRINCE: You were raised with Germans?
LOWE: Yes. In our neighborhood, we grow up with Germans. I read German, Gothic Germans.
LOWE: Not just Germans which is in regular. Gothic Germans is entirely different. You know what Gotish Germans is?
PRINCE: Tell, me what are you saying, can you spell it for me?
LOWE: Gothic.
PRINCE: Gothic!
LOWE: Gothic. Gothic German. That’s what they call it.
PRINCE: Do you know Jacob Szapsewicz.
LOWE: Szapsewicz? Szapsewicz? I know a Szapsewicz, if there’s even alive.
PRINCE: It’s got to be Jacob. Well, he talked about that too – Gothic German. What is it?
LOWE: This is original German. You can write German, you can write the letters A-B-C. And you write Germans which is pointed. S, or H, or a C – different ABC. This was the first German which the Church was living with, you know? That’s what they call it Gothic German.
PRINCE: Well, did you live in an area where there were Jews, also, when you were growing up? In, your… What was your neighborhood like?
LOWE: Like all the neighborhoods. Jews, had a synagogue, and we got the people who come into the synagogue, and learning in the synagogue. And there were normal life until the Germans came and occupied Poland. They been awful, they been like animals.
PRINCE: Would you like to now, go back to the ghetto, and … You said you were in the ghetto until the very end?
LOWE: Oh yes. From the beginning to the very end. In the ghetto was very, very bad. You were separated with shtachelroot, wire, you know, from the whole world.
PRINCE: Were you aware when new people would come into the ghetto. I mean, when they came in from Western Europe when they were sent in. Could you tell the difference in the ghetto being more crowded or…?
LOWE: This time there was very little coming people from other places. It was a war, we been separated from the whole world.
PRINCE: Yes, I know, but they brought other Jews in, that’s what they…?
LOWE: Yes. Sometimes, they brought other Jews in and put them in the ghetto too.
PRINCE: I was just wondering if you came in contact with any of those people?
LOWE: Once in a while. New people were brought and we talked to them and see that they also have got a good life. You know they been suffered in different ways.
PRINCE: So, would you tell me about when you were deported? Would you tell me when the ghetto was closed up and you went to Auschwitz?
LOWE: Oh yes. In Auschwitz was even worser than the ghetto.
PRINCE: Did you know where you were going?
LOWE: No. Nobody know where they take us. They just came at the, during the night and took you out, and took you away. That’s no questions.
PRINCE: And you didn’t?
LOWE: We didn’t even know where we went.
PRINCE: But from the things that you got from … in the clothes, the letters, didn’t tell you… what was happening?
LOWE: What, what, what did you have. Nothing! Absolutely. You haven’t got no paper, no to read, nobody to tell you. They, you can only read an order. You have to be this time in the morning in this place, and that was it.
PRINCE: Well, did you have anything to take when you got on the train? Did they take whatever you had, and?
LOWE: Whatever you got. Very little.
PRINCE: So you wear on the train?
LOWE: Whatever you need, and you got it, you even happy.
PRINCE: Do you remember when you arrived at Auschwitz?

Tape 1 - Side 2

PRINCE: Do you remember the train ride?
LOWE: The train ride was awful because we, we would put nothing a regular train. This was a train but we did not have seats to sit. We have to stand, and the more people they could put in these… it was not a train you could have a seat you could sit down…
PRINCE: A cattle car.
LOWE: Yeah, like a cattle car, that’s right. We haven’t got nothing to sit, it was awful inside. And you are a human being, you have to do something with the nature, and you couldn’t. But we have to do it! You live like a dog.
PRINCE: (sigh) How did you keep yourself going? What did you say to yourself?
LOWE: You are not a human being anymore. You haven’t got nobody to explain to you because you know you feel like an animal, that’s all.
PRINCE: But you kept going?
LOWE: Of course. That’s the only way you know how to do it. When you give you food, you kept going.
PRINCE: Some people did kill themselves.
LOWE: It happened. It’s happened. And some people be killed, have been killed but they didn’t do what they had ordered to do.
PRINCE: So? Alright. Now you’re at Auschwitz. You’re getting off the train.
LOWE: Cattle trains. Don’t forget this.
PRINCE: Cattle trains.
LOWE: And the minute we came in a train, a cattle train, you lost your ability to be a human being. You rather return to an animal. They don’t care what you are, you’re a woman or a man, and you have to do whatever you needed as a human being, so it was awful.
PRINCE: So the train finally got to Auschwitz, tell me what happened next?
LOWE: Auschwitz, they took you to shaving. And they got a way how to do it. They took shaving and cutting the hair, they took womens, they brought to the men to do it. And men they took to the woman to do it. That was a special to make the, you, nothing.
PRINCE: Yeah, nothing.
LOWE: This looks in giving up.
LOWE: You cannot forget this.
PRINCE: So, then after the shaving? I guess you… Are you okay? I mean, is this okay with you? To tell, talking to me?
LOWE: It brings back very bad memories, and this cannot be an enjoyment.
PRINCE: No, no and I…
LOWE: No matter what you are, you are a human being. You understand that it was very, very wrong, and you cannot understand how this could happen in a civilized world. But it happened.
PRINCE: And you’re right. There’s no one to talk to, there’s no one to ask, there’s no one to…
LOWE: People are asking me another question, how come that so many thousand died and you are still alive? So I say, well, G-d wanted to have a witness to tell the story, and nobody could believe it, so he left a few of us alive, thus we can tell what’s happened.
PRINCE: I guess it’s called luck.
LOWE: Luck and G-d’s help. That’s all.
PRINCE: Yeah. But I mean, you know, you could be cut by accident and have an infection, and you know, I mean, you could be… Joe is here and your, you have contacted me. Is there something that you know that Mr. Lowe would talk about with you. Or is there something that sitting here, and listening that you would like to ask?
JOE: I always asked, what happened to the children?
PRINCE: Did you hear Joe? (To Mr. Lowe)
LOWE: What?
JOE: And he told me, things that happened to the children and the babies.
LOWE: Very bad. Not talk with them.
JOE: I mean, it gave me chills.
LOWE: They came during the night, in a bug house with a lot of Jewish people, with Jewish families, and they went to each room and took little kids and threw them down on trucks. On the yard, on the trucks. Right away from the window to the trucks, and took them away. And that’s came, once in a while. (Phone rings in background and tape cuts)
PRINCE: When you’re talking about these children, what you just said, I am imagining the rest of the people in the apartment building… the terror you felt.
LOWE: They came to the hospital, in the hospital where the people, the women were born with childs. What’s it called? Like a clinic, you know?
PRINCE: Yes. Uh-huh.
LOWE: So they came in, very simple, and take all the babies and threw them through the window and trucks took them away.
PRINCE: People must have gone crazy, some people.
LOWE: They gone. They told them, you want to go on with the kids, go ahead. And some of them were jumping to get them with their kids in the trucks, cause they didn’t want to lose the kids. Her mother is a mother.
PRINCE: Right, right. Did you know what Auschwitz was when you got there?
LOWE: No. We didn’t know what, when and how. But we know that something terrible happened because they took, they brought to the ghetto uniforms. You know, pants, and skirts, and shirts, and ____ from other places. That was from the people who died in the concentration camp. So they brought it to us, they gave it to us, and we found over there, in the pockets, different kinds of letters from these peoples who ahd been over there. That’s how we found out.
PRINCE: So tell me, after you were shaved, you were given something to wear, in the camps, tell me what happened next. You got some kind of clothes?
LOWE: Well, there a lot, first they let you froze until at least two or three nights in the winter time, a frost, entirely naked. Before they change your clothes. Of course, there was _______ for taking a bath and be clean. So they let you out outside, to stay outside, naked, in the frost and rain and snow, until they get you in, in one or two mornings, whatever they want, however long they want.
PRINCE: So that’s a pell. You were in a pell they call that, standing there?
LOWE: A concentration camp. Standing in the field.
PRINCE: Yes. (pause) Okay.
LOWE: They want to torture you, whatever they can, they did it.
PRINCE: Hm. Just for nothing. So, then you… Do you want to go on?
LOWE: A world with animals. They had to do bad things to the Jews. (Phone rings in background and tape cuts) Whatever you describe I came like this, it will not be enough to show you the picture of it. It was terrible because you know that you are in danger to be killed like a dog every minute, every second. Because you been hungry, cold, frozen, and they didn’t care about what, when and how it happened. But it’s happened. You been treated like a dog, and make like this, and scared for the whole world not to touch you. (A knock on the door, “Yeah?” and the tape cuts)
PRINCE: So you were saying before the lady came to the door, that it hardly mattered how it happened anymore, you just wanted to hang on to…
LOWE: Anyway you could, you wanted to hang on. You were alive so.
PRINCE: What was the difference between being in the ghetto and being in this camp?
LOWE: In the ghetto you have some kind of freedom, you know. When the camp, you know nothing good will wait for you. Because you have got nobody to complain, nobody to stand up for you, you know the conditions are getting worser and worser any minute. And you know for what the end of it, they came to the camp, you didn’t figure out nothing good. Whatever it happened, you have to be ready for anything, whatever happened.
PRINCE: Do you remember when you learned what the end of it was? Do you remember?
LOWE: You haven’t got too much, you know it, form the past what happened to these people, you know about it.
PRINCE: You knew about it?
LOWE: We cannot help it. (pause) They came during the night, haul us rous, and they took you, that’s all. Whenever they want to.
PRINCE: (sigh) Did you have a spoon, you had a some kind of thing that you could eat with in the camp. Did you have a cup?
LOWE: When you were lucky, you got a spoon. You made your own spoon. Scrap piece, of, from a piece. Whatever you find on the ground which you were going. You always find something, a piece of glass, a piece of broken wire, or from the pipes, you know. So you could broke up a piece of. And you have something to eat. With something to eat, you know.
PRINCE: Would you tell me something about being in the barrack with the, that… did people talk about anything that you could tell me about?
LOWE: We talk, we talk but we haven’t… our mind was only wanting how to live. What would we have the next minute to eat and how we can survive, anyway you could. And you tried. And let’s say they took you to work, the best thing was to work on a farm. Farmers haven’t got any… Farmers always need people to work for, so, to prepare the ground, or take out of the ground once their ready.
PRINCE: You’re talking back about the ghetto now?
PRINCE: Oh, at Auschwitz, too?
LOWE: At Auschwitz, and they took you to work.
PRINCE: You could work on a farm?
LOWE: That’s right, because the farmers haven’t got no workers. It was a war! So they got a lot of materials. They took from Auschwitz, the prisoners in groups to work in the fields. That’s been the workers, which would working for them for nothing. Some of us, had been treating us nice. Sitting up at the table, giving us bread, how much you want, and this time that was gold. And this happened once in a while. Things happened and we were lucky.
PRINCE: Yes. Do you… tell me how it happened that you were taken from Auschwitz to Dachau?
LOWE: To Dachau, yes. Dachau was our, when Auschwitz was overfulled, they take you out and they got over there, a few hundred people die, so they took you over there. But there, there was the same, the condition was the same thing. You got only one thing in your mind: food, eat, how to live, how to breathe.
PRINCE: So you were liberated from Daucha? When the war was over, you were in Dachau?
LOWE: Yes. Oh, this. I remember when the allies came and bombarded Dauchau. I been. I was transferred from another camp. From one camp to another. And we been on horse and buggy, you know, and we been transferred over there, and the allies came and bombed the … we been on the horse and wagon, you know…. And a lot of us had been killed. And, eh, I’d been laying for, I don’t know how long, but two three days, half-dead. And the people find me and went to the hospital and went to the hospital and they said they have a lot of people have been bombed and there a lot of them dead, you know, still alive. So they came and took me from over there to the hospital.
PRINCE: Took you to the hospital. Could you believe it? I mean that it was…?
LOWE: Everyone was always ready to die, not to stay alive. No matter which way, but we know it would not be a good end of it.
PRINCE: It must have been… How hard was it to be free and to… how hard was that?
LOWE: To be free was just a dream. You know, this could not happen to you. You were this way and you would have to live in these conditions. And your only dream was to have something to eat, so you can be alive, you can breathe, you can do it something. If you were lucky enough, you know, healthy enough, that you could get through this, you alright. But when you got sick, there was no doctor to help you, it was lost.
PRINCE: What was your beginning to eat again when you were in the hospital? What was that?
LOWE: When you came to the hospital they give you, you know they give you, you don’t have to worry, they give you a piece of bread, or a half a glass of milk or somebody to take care of you. So, it was not as bad, you got a nice bed, a clean bed, like a hospital. It was the best thing to be in the hospital (chuckle). You lucky when you could get into the hospital.
PRINCE: Yes, now we’re talking after the war?
LOWE: Yeah.
PRINCE: So, there you were, in the hospital, and slowly getting a little stronger?
LOWE: Yes. You be very happy that you got the care, and the little bit to eat. You were thinking maybe some change soon. Miracle will happen.
PRINCE: When did you get mad about all this? Did you ever get mad about all this? Angry?
LOWE: You get used to live like this, you think it must be like this. You don’t expect better. You lose your mind that you will be ever free, that you will be able to eat as much as you like, or not to eat, or be in a different ways. Because we didn’t see nothing around you which will make you a free man. You will always be a slave.
PRINCE: Because that’s… you were there for like six years like that.
LOWE: Right. (Pause) People asking me the same question, how come there are so many who died and you are alive. And I say, G-d wanted to have a witness so he let me live to tell the story.
PRINCE: Well, I really appreciate that you are telling the story. We are having, we have a museum.
LOWE: Yeah, I know the museum very well.
PRINCE: And we are working right now on having audio tours. When people come in, they don’t have to have somebody show them around, they can put the headphones on and they can
LOWE: Listen to it.
PRINCE: Listen. And you have said a number, you know, a couple of things today that I will, we will put in
LOWE: To the listeners
PRINCE: Mm-hmm. So I am very greatful.
LOWE: I know that they are having this over there. I been over there.
PRINCE: Yes. What haven’t I talked to you about or asked you about that you might want to talk about or tell me or get off your chest?
LOWE: I know one thing that my wife, went through the same thing like I did. She never, when they ask her, she never had a word to say nothing. She didn’t want to come back because this make her shudder. She never tell the story.
PRINCE: Where did you meet your wife?
LOWE: A friend. We been going through school together, we like each other, we married each other.
PRINCE: And when? When did you marry each other?
LOWE: Everything was over. I cannot exactly say, what when and how. What we went through a lot.
PRINCE: Was it in Europe? You met her in Europe?
LOWE: Europe. Europe.
PRINCE: After the war?
LOWE: Right.
PRINCE: What city were you in?
LOWE: Lodz. One of the biggest industrial places in Europe is Lodz. Lodz was…
PRINCE: So you went back to Lodz? After the war? You went back to Lodz?
LOWE: Yes. Lodz was a big town. And factories, so very factories, and manufacturers of material. They been transporting all over the world. All over Russia has been transporting material which was made in Lodz.
PRINCE: When you got out of the hospital, did you go to a displaced persons camp or did you go?
LOWE: I went to a DP Camp. That’s a displaced persons camp.
PRINCE: And where was that? Did it have a name?
LOWE: I don’t remember even. There are different places, there was.
PRINCE: Yeah. And then from the displaced persons camp, what came next for you?
LOWE: Everything develops not too fast. The changes have been very long. You can… you start dreaming that the world will look a little different and it will change and it will be better. But it took a long time because we lost too much to dream about.
PRINCE: To be able to walk around again, to be able to…
LOWE: Yes, you are free.
PRINCE: Put your coat on when you are cold.
LOWE: To do whatever you want to, to be free. To be a free man, that’s to be free. Independent.
PRINCE: Yes. Yes. To make a choice.
LOWE: You have the choice, that is the point.
PRINCE: Is there anything , I mean, does weather, a really cold day make you remember something or are there certain things.
LOWE: It depends on where you’ve been, which conditions you’ve been in. If you’ve been in a camp, if you’ve been in private life. What you went through. If you’ve been hungry. When you got an opportunity to have a piece of bread everyday or a soup. You were the luckiest man in the world. (pause) And you didn’t expect too much from life, so you live each day, whatever it comes.
(In the background:)
JOE: Tell her about your brother. Why you split up.
LOWE: Who?
JOE: Your brother.
LOWE: My brother?
JOE: In Australia.
(Back to PRINCE)
LOWE: In Australia. He got an opportunity. There was a time they were looking for workers, and we know that this is a very hard place that they were going with them. Cutting trees, you know, clearing out places to build. And he signed up and they took him over there and I never saw him again. Austrailia.
PRINCE: He went to Australia?
LOWE: My brother.
PRINCE: On his own accord?
LOWE: They been looking for workers, so he literally, he signed up to go in groups to Australia.
PRINCE: This was after the war?
LOWE: Yeah. They promised them they will have over there a good life, a nice life.
JOE: They started to split up so that anything global like that would happen again, they would survive. That the family would survive, with the brother being in one place and he being in another.
LOWE: He just wanted, that was a dream. Maybe over there he would have an opperutnity to live. Here, there was only one opportunity to disappear. So, we have to take it whenever it comes, something like this, you always want to go cause you think maybe there’ll be freedom. We’ll have it a little better way of living.
PRINCE: And how did you decide what to do?
LOWE: How did I decide? The minute that you leave, you decide when you got an opportunity, you will have another job, maybe you could live a little bit difference. You never know what will come next, and living without the future, you haven’t got any freedom.
PRINCE: I want to know from the DP camp, did you just leave, and decide to go somewhere else, and how did that happen?
(small laughing)
LOWE: DP camp is a camp, you haven’t got your own ____. They wanted to do what they did.
PRINCE: I’m talking about the displaced persons camp.
LOWE: Yes.
PRINCE: Couldn’t you do what you wanted to do there?
LOWE: Yes, but there was no freedom. No, we couldn’t do it. Here you was whatever they wanted, whatever they think it will be good for you, this you have to do.
PRINCE: So tell me, when you began to exert your own will, and make a decision.
LOWE: It take a long time until this happened.
PRINCE: So you stayed in the DP camp for a long time?
LOWE: Sure. A long, long time. A very long time.
PRINCE: That was good I think. Right? You think?
LOWE: You got over there, you get used to the things. You think that this is the best that it can get. There is nothing better outside.
PRINCE: Well you had to get stronger, physically. Right?
LOWE: You were ready to dream. You know? You heard about it, you wouldn’t see it in the pictures. We didn’t see no pictures, no people no television, nothing. We were living… Whatever happened, you had to accept. So you got dreams. Maybe it will be a dream, which will take you out of here, bring you somewhere else. It will be another dream, you will see other people. And this was the only way how you lived.
PRINCE: So people were depressed.
LOWE: Oh yes. When you get used to it, you think it has to be like this.
PRINCE: Yeah. And how did you, did they have people there to help you? To talk to?
LOWE: No, no, no.
PRINCE: Well, how’d you do it, Mr. Lowe?
LOWE: It’s nothing that was a worser world for you, you understood too much. The best thing is not to think, to take it as it comes, and take it as it is. That is it. It cannot be better, that is it.
PRINCE: But you did get out of that camp?
LOWE: Yes. The war was over, the armies came to destroy the whole thing.
PRINCE: So after a very long time.
LOWE: Oh yes.
PRINCE: A very long time.
LOWE: Too long of a time.
PRINCE: Did you meet your wife after you got out of the camp?
LOWE: Yes.
PRINCE: Out of the DP camp, displaced persons camp?
LOWE: There we didn’t see any woman. A new world.
PRINCE: When you…
JOE: The women and the men were always separate?
PRINCE: (To JOE) Yeah, I think so. I mean, there’s never a …(To LOWE) Joe says, were the men and women always separated?
LOWE: Sure they were separated.
PRINCE: I guess it was, was it as your body got stronger…
LOWE: As your body gets stronger, you mind starts working in a different way.
PRINCE: Alright. And that’s what happened. How it happened to you? So there was a time when things got…
LOWE: Very bad, very low. There was a time when it came when start going a little bit different, your eyes open around you to see that it’s a big world, and you like to be there with other people. (A chuckle, maybe a kiss on the cheek) G-d bless you.
PRINCE: And you, and you, and you. I suppose that – I don’t know Mr. Lowe, I don’t have anything…
LOWE: It’s a big, big world. And a very bad world. Life is not a picnic, this is true. When you look back, and you see your past, you cannot believe that this would happen, cause you’re still alive.
PRINCE: But what’s remarkable is that you met somebody and you began to care.
LOWE: That was my best time in my life. But, it took long.
PRINCE: It took long? Is that what you said?
LOWE: It took long to get it and to love it.

Tape 2 - SIde 1

PRINCE: So you said G-d’s will cannot be changed?
LOWE: No. Nobody’s able to do this. A human being is born, with it already written how long you will live, whom you will marry, how many children you will have, and how his life will be, and you cannot change it. That’s what the Bible says.
JOE: What’s amazing to me is that any woman can go through that – the concentration camp. Live like that, and not have the food and the body, you know, cause there’s woman’s ovaries and things, shut down. The things we are able to eat give us strength and have anything left to have and even bear a child.
LOWE: She suffered more than men.
JOE: So to even get out and be well enough to have children, that took a lot. I mean, you know after even having a child, even being free it seemed like in a few years she would die. Have to live like that young.
PRINCE: I think that…
LOWE: Woman have been treated awful.
PRINCE: Well, you knew her history, yes?
LOWE: We know about. Women were very badly hurt; more so than men. She suffered like everybody else.
PRINCE: So for you and your wife to marry, to live and have children. I keep using the word energy, it’s not what I want exactly, but it takes, it took a lot of remarkable to find your way.
LOWE: To start a life with a wife, with a partner, is not an easy thing. When you do it, you see there’s another human want how to be loved, and be together, what a difference. When you have a child, you’ll be happy to live for a child, and work for a child, and work for the future. Always something comes up in life that you like it, something which is a little happy that looks different.
PRINCE: And you recognize it?
LOWE: Oh yes. You find it very… and you see it cause it’s happened too much when it’s happened it makes you very proud.
PRINCE: Yeah, and those moments, did they have a tinge of sadness along with it though?
LOWE: Oh yes.
JOE: It must have been fear, somewhat fear too, cause now you have this child and you know what you been through and what will come to this child who goes through the same, maybe the trucks will come and take. You know, it would be nightmare alley for me.
PRINCE: That’s such a good point.
JOE: Everything that happened to him good, they could see the other side clearly. You’d have to live with it, I don’t care how happy times got, they were bad. You know they were sad, but they were happy, but it’s like walking between something – walking between space.
LOWE: You don’t know where you walk.
JOE: Yeah.
LOWE: What the future brings. This is life, you get used to everything.
JOE: (laughing) Listen, he’s just saying that so easily.
PRINCE: No he’s not saying it easily, he’s just saying it. Not easy. Shall we stop or? Would you like to talk some more, or would you like to stop now?
LOWE: I can talk day and night.
PRINCE: Can you? Well, then… How did you happen, you went back to Lodz? You actually, did you go back to Lodz after the war?
LOWE: Yes.
LOWE: I went through a hell winter and I came back to Lodz. There was no transportation no nothing. You don’t even remember this. The world stops. There was no train to go, where to go. You couldn’t do, know where to go, how to get it. But little by little I came back to Lodz. Lodz was one of the biggest towns, and in this town, a lot of factories and hotels and motels and railroads, and transportation and everything, airplanes and everything. A big, big town.
PRINCE: Did you go to a particular area? Were there many people like yourself who had gotten out of camps and were coming back to Lodz.
LOWE: Lodz was a place where they been making manufacturing materials and transporting to the entire world. That was Lodz specialty.
PRINCE: Did you find many people that like yourself came back? For work?
LOWE: That’s right they came back because they knew that Lodz was a place that you will not get lost.
LOWE: Lodz was a lot of Jewish people, a lot of synagogues, a lot of science people.
PRINCE: We’re talking after the war?
LOWE: After the war.
PRINCE: Okay, now did you find people that you had known before?
LOWE: When you don’t find new people you got old people, and old people come here during the time after the war, came this start of building of hotels, motels, transportation.
PRINCE: And what did you do? What did you do when you came back? What kind of work did you find?
LOWE: I been, my specialty was ladies clothing. Dresses, skirts, blouses – this was my specialty. I remember when I came to St. Louis, I been working for twenty years. A designer and pattern maker were cutting the materials and sewing. I got the… my father was a tailor so I knew how to sew a machine and put together a garment. I know how to make a dress, how to sew it together and that was my specialty. That’s why I got better than anyone else.
PRINCE: You were very skilled.
LOWE: No, no got more skill than anybody with no one with one skill to do. I know how to cut the garment, to make the garment, to fit the garment, or to figure out to make a design – a new one – that’s what I’ve been doing.
PRINCE: How did you happen to be able to come to this country? Did you want to come here? Did you want to go to Palestine?
LOWE: That I was ready to go to Palestine. I was ready to take my partners and go. I got the pass and I got everything. But something happened that I didn’t, and I start here. And I start changing to a better life. I got a future, got a big workshop.
PRINCE: A big what?
LOWE: Workshop.
PRINCE: Workshop.
LOWE: People working for different kind of places.
PRINCE: So you married your wife in Lodz?
LOWE: Yeah.
PRINCE: And came here together?
LOWE: Together, yeah.
PRINCE: And what was your wife’s name?
LOWE: Laura.
PRINCE: Laura, beautiful. And you have, I know you have a son.
LOWE: I have two children.
PRINCE: Two children. Two sons, or?
LOWE: June and Kenny. June hasn’t got any children, but Kenny has children. Jason and Melanie.
PRINCE: Do either of them know how to cut a pattern.
LOWE: No, they are entirely different.
PRINCE: Well. I think we’ll stop now. I would like to thank you. I can come back anytime.
LOWE: Thank you very much for talking to you. It was a pleasure.
PRINCE: We’ve been talking a while, and I think…
LOWE: I don’t know why I have a big mouth and talk all the time, but I know my wife didn’t want to open her mouth. She didn’t want the past, she did not want to remind the past.
PRINCE: But she talked to you about it?
LOWE: Sure. I know what she went through. She went also to a concentration camp and Dachau and Auschwitz. And she didn’t want to talk about it.
PRINCE: What did you and your wife, did you agree on how you would treat the children. I mean did one of you want to tell them and the other one didn’t? I mean, did you talk to them about it?
LOWE: I rather did not talk to them and tell them. I didn’t want to make them mad at the world because we went through this. And she did the same thing, she did not want to talk about it.
PRINCE: So they don’t really know the things that you talked about today?
LOWE: A lot of things they don’t know. I didn’t want to make then mad at the world, cause the world is bad. It’s nobody’s fault.
PRINCE: So they know where you were but not so much detail? (Long pause) Are you mad at the world?
LOWE: The world is good, but the people are suffering. Most of what you see and live through is all suffering. One way or another way. Physically, or medically, or whatever it is, it is not a good world.
PRINCE: Some people stop believing in G-d.
LOWE: That is a thing that is a very bad thing. When you stop believing in G-d, you have no future. That is the only thing which you have. You believe in G-d that whatever he did or does is good. He will not hurt people. He knows that he is to heal us and to help us.
PRINCE: And he didn’t do this but man did?
LOWE: Well, that’s a different story. That’s a – without G-ds will nothing comes here, nothing exists. You have to believe in it.
PRINCE: Thank you. And I hope that this hasn’t been too difficult afterwards.
[Tape cuts]
LOWE: I hope as I said, what I told you, would be something for the futures, which will las a little while, and people will listen and learn. That’s all.
PRINCE: Well, we show it to them, we offer it to them, and….
LOWE: And hope that they can use it in a good way.
PRINCE: And hope that people are listening. It’s all choices. It’s all choices. Thank you.
[Tape cuts]
PRINCE: Mr. Lowe, so here he’s gonna tell me his regular…
LOWE: When I came to the United States and talked to the counsel, “What is your name?” I say, “My name is Avraham Shidlowsky.” “How you spell this? This name’s so long.” I say, “This is S-H-I-D-L-O-W-S-K-Y.” I said, “In America, we don’t have time to talk about these things, we have to make it shorter! I would suggest to take the middle of your name, of Shirdlowsky is L-O-W, and I will give you a ‘E’ and this will be Lowe”. And Avraham Lincoln was no good for him. “Avraham Lincoln, you will have Abe. We called him Abe Lincoln.” And I said okay, that was a new country, a new name.
PRINCE: So it was Abe?
LOWE: Shydlowskye. S-H-Y-D-L-O-W-S-K-Y-E.
PRINCE: Now, where’s the Lincoln come in?
LOWE: Say Lincoln, Abe. My name was Avraham, so say make it Abe.
PRINCE: Oh, oh, Abe instead of Avraham.
LOWE: So, “what is good for Lincoln is good for you!”
PRINCE: And this was the man…
LOWE: At the … when I came here, the counsel talked to me, and I told him the name, and he said “a long name like this we don’t have time to listen to a name like this and writing a name like this. Make it short!”
PRINCE: And what about your wife, what was her name then? Her original name then?
LOW: I don’t remember.
PRINCE: Don’t remember. Was this in New York?
LOWE: In Europe.
PRINCE: Oh in Europe, at the counsel there in Lodz. Oh funny. So did you come over on a ship?
LOWE: An airplane.
PRINCE: An airplane.
LOWE: To New York.
PRINCE: And you came to New York. And did somebody meet you? How did you decide, oh your food is ready. I’m going to let you eat.
JOE: Oh, he does that.
[Tape Cuts]
PRINCE: To St. Louis. Why did you happen to come to St. Louis? Do you remember that?
LOWE: This is another story. I been to New York, so when they ask me. You have to wait until we will transfer the people. Everybody come to New York, but over there they transfer you, the organization, they say… they came to me, they told me, “What is was. What to go everywhere where I can find these Jewish people and I can talk to them.” And they said, “Well, we got a good place for you. East St. Louis. And it’s a good place.” So I asked him first of all, “Is there Jewish people?” They say yes. So when I came to East St. Louis, I came out and I saw black people. I never in my life saw it, because in Europe you don’t see black people. So I said, “ I will not stay here, I will go to someplace cause this was East St. Louis.” So how you come to East St. Louis, they say you pay twenty-five cents the bus and he will take you over the bridge, and that is St. Louis. And that’s how I came to St. Louis.
PRINCE: That’s how you came to St. Louis.
LOWE: And I’ve been going around, I remember, street to street, and asking special _____, talking and asking, “where can I find a place?” And finally one woman said “I got a room, and you can have it.” And she came in, and I say, “It’s shabbos” cause I saw that she was keeping the eye and when she laugh, she said, “I see you are a Jewish man, so you could stay here until you can find a place.” So she let me be there that day, and the next day somebody, some woman, says she got a room. So she can rent me the room.
PRINCE: Now your wife was with you?
LOWE: And I was scared like a dog, oh boy. Cannot speak, cannot, English! I can read, speak and write three languages, Polish, German, and a little bit Hebrew. I’ve been speaking Hebrew and can talk Hebrew, I speak Yiddish and talk Yiddish and write Yiddish. But English is another world. I’ve been going around with a, that little book.
PRINCE: Yes, dictionary.
LOWE: So wherever I want to go, I talk to a policeman. So first I talked to the policeman, and I remember I say, “Union, I want to go to Union.” “What union?” “Union, I want to talk to people.” So he say, a men’s clothing union, I got a _______ book., which I read. Men’s clothing, means that people who are making their clothing, they got a union. A International Ladies Garments Workers Union. They call it ALGSO. So he certainly told me to take the bus, you pay ten cents, and ask the man who drives the car you want to go to sixth street. When I came to sixth street, so I called the man, the driver, I would like him to let me down on sixth street. So he took me to sixth street, so I say where is there a Union? The National Ladies Garments Workers Union? Cause I told him in the very end, of this sixth street, you will find a big house, and over there you will see a union. I came over there, I came in, I read this is a union. So I came inside and I saw a man sitting there and saying, “What are you looking for?” So he talked to me in Yiddish. I say, “Oh boy! Now I am home!” So I say, “I just came as an immigrant, and I would like to talk to somebody. So he say, “Oh yeah, good. What are you doing?” So, “I am a cutter of men’s clothing and woman’s clothing. He said, “oh you will not have too much to work, to worry about getting work. You will come in here on Sunday and I will give you a job.” And I got right away, two days later, a job on Washington Avenue as a cutter of ladies garments workers. I did join the union, and now an American worker.
PRINCE: What a day that must have been.
LOWE: Oh boy. The big day was when I got my citizenship.
PRINCE: Oh, tell me about it!
LOWE: I wait five years, you have to wait to be a citizen. After five years, I got the counsel letter – it was citizen will be accepted on this day. And give you a document that says you are a citizen. That was a big day.
LOWE: Oh, I remember. I lost my wife at this time, couldn’t know how to find her cause they messed up – she came with another train. And streetcar, and I been in another streetcar and we couldn’t meet. It took a long time till we find each other. When finally I found her, I told her, we have to go now and look for a room. So we go door to door asking who got a room. It was an old woman.
PRINCE: So you came here first?
LOWE: Yes. And this woman, so I talked to her and I see she got on the table. It was a Saturday, Friday evening, so I saw candle, was lighting candle. So I say, “Oh, shabbos.” She say, “Today’s Friday evening. How do you know about the Sabbath?” I say, “I’m Jewish, so I’m very happy that I’m in a Jewish house.” So she talked to me different.
LOWE: So she told me her neighbor has got a room she thinks and she would like to give it to an man. She saw me that I can make kiddush, so your are a Jewish man, a religious man, so she say I will help you. So they got together and find me another room and I could move them in their own _____ in America.
PRINCE: Were you near a shul or a synagogue?
LOWE: Oh yes. Somewhere was a synagogue here, in each big building, there is always a room that there is a synagogue.
LOWE: Now here is another big place, downstairs there is a synagogue. So, in Lodz where I was born, there were big synagogues, all the synagogues. I even belonged to a synagogue.
PRINCE: Would you tell me what it was like, I mean, now that you’re here in America and everything, can we go way, way back again and can you tell me, _______ what it was like to be a little boy? Do you want to? I don’t want to ask you if you don’t want to, but?
LOWE: It was, being a little boy in Europe was a little different than here. First of all, my father was a religious man, he was a tailor. A custom tailor, and a good tailor, specialized, this you will not know, he specialized in clothing for Hasidim. Hasidim, ________, eh, what do you call it, in special made materials in very delicates, he made beautiful things for the people to wear. So I came here, to America, I was looking for a job so I went to the Union. Oh, I told you this.
PRINCE: Yes, you told me. I just – did you ever go to your father’s factory, or place of business rather, when you were a little boy?
PRINCE: No. Were you orthodox?
LOWE: Yes, my father was an orthodox Jew.
PRINCE: Did you wear the paous?
LOWE: No, I didn’t got any paous. I haven’t got any paous, but my father was living a long, a satin, wearing a jibitza, a long one, on a Jewish head. Special.
PRINCE: Oh that struml thing?
LOWE: No. A Jewish – a black, a black, not just a cap, but a special.
PRINCE: A black hat.
LOWE: They don’t where it here in the states. Satin – they made it from satin. He was a tailor.
PRINCE: But you observed all the Jewish?
LOWE: What?
PRINCE: Well, you observed Shabbat, and?
LOWE: Shabbat? Yes, it was a Yiddish uh – a good Yiddish boy, he sent us to cheder with the brothers and the sisters, to lear the Yiddish, and sent us to school to read and write.
PRINCE: Your sisters went to cheder too?
LOWE: Oh yes, I went to cheder.
PRINCE: No your sisters?
LOWE: Sisters, no. Sisters don’t go to the cheder.
PRINCE: Well, yeah. Right.
LOWE: Just a little learning how to make bahallah.
PRINCE: Stay home and cook.
LOWE: Yeah.
PRINCE: And you had grandparents?
LOWE: Yes. Bubba and a Zede.
PRINCE: Did you name your children after anybody? Oh, here’s – Joe is showing me – oh my goodness. This is your family. Show me where you are.

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