Abraham was born to a Jewish family in the Polish capital of Warsaw. His grandfather owned a clothing factory and retail store, which his father managed. Abraham's family lived in a Jewish section of Warsaw and he attended a Jewish school. Warsaw's Jewish community was the largest in Europe, and made up nearly one-third of the population of the city.
1933-39: After the bombardment of Warsaw began on September 8, 1939, my family had little to eat. The stores had been reduced to rubble; we had no water or heat. Hunting for food, I dodged German bombs and stole seven jars of pickles from a nearby pickle factory. For several weeks my family lived on pickles and rice. Because of a lack of water, fires from the bombing raids burned out of control. Relief came when the capital surrendered.
1940-44: By April 1943 I was in the Warsaw ghetto in a walled-off forced-labor area. During the ghetto uprising we could see the flames. We couldn't believe it. To one side I saw whole streets on fire. To the other I saw Poles in Warsaw's non-Jewish section preparing for Easter. When the Nazis liquidated the ghetto after the uprising, my father and I were among those marched out for deportation. Poles stood on the sidewalk, eyeing the suitcases we carried, saying: "You're going to your death, after all. Leave it for us."