Born November 11, 1919, in Stryj, Poland
Isaac Dickmann was born on November 11, 1919 in Stryj, Poland. He was raised by his widowed mother who received support from a nearby uncle and an aunt in New York. Isaac attended gymnasium (high school), learning Latin, Greek, and German. Because Jews were not admitted to the university in Krakow (Cracow) Isaac’s mother arranged and paid for an apprenticeship with a dentist. After three years Isaac became a dental technician. He worked in a dental office until the German invasion of Poland in 1939.
1939-1941: German forces bombed Stryj for two weeks before they reached the town. When the Germans arrived all Jews were forced to clean up the mess created by the bombing. When the Soviets took over that part of Poland Isaac could no longer work in dentistry and was trained to give vaccinations. In 1941, when the Germans reoccupied Galicia, the region of Poland which includes Stryj, Isaac was locked into a train by the retreating Soviets with a medical unit going to the Russian front in the Soviet Union. Before the train left his mother found him and gave him a gold watch, saying it might be of some use to him later. The train ride lasted three days and nights.
1941-1945: On the Russian front Isaac worked as a vaccinator and assisted medical units. Over the next few years Isaac joined different fighting units in hopes of making it back to Poland to see his mother. He left the medical units to train for the Soviet army infantry. In 1943 Isaac heard that Polish citizens in the Soviet Union were making an army of 50,000. However, no Jews were being accepted. Desperate, Isaac found the nearest Polish army station and offered the gold watch given to him by his mother. It was accepted and he became part of the Polish army. He was stationed in several countries as part of the Polish army and fought in Italy in the Battle of Monte Cassino. By September of that year Isaac and his army unit were in Palestine where he was sentenced to seven days in jail for failing to salute a Polish officer. Isaac escaped to Tel Aviv and joined the Jewish Brigade Group.
1945-present: Isaac met Yona, a Polish Holocaust survivor, in Tel Aviv. They married and he set up a dental office. Isaac also served in the Israeli army for two years and fought in the War of Independence. None of Isaac’s family living in Poland survived the Holocaust. In 1959, Isaac moved to the Washington, DC area. Isaac began translating documents from Polish, Yiddish, and Hebrew at the Archives in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006.