Born: Warsaw, Poland
May 17, 1912
Szlamach was one of six children born to Yiddish-speaking, religious Jewish parents. Szlamach's father was a peddler, and the Radoszynski family lived in a modest apartment in Warsaw's Praga section on the east bank of the Vistula River. After completing his schooling at the age of 16, Szlamach apprenticed to become a furrier.
1933-39: During the 1930s I owned a fur business. Despite the Depression, I was hoping the economy would turn around so that I could make enough money to move into my own apartment and start a family. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. One week later, our city was surrounded by the Germans. After a terrible siege, Warsaw surrendered.
1940-44: In November 1940 the Nazis established a ghetto. By April 1943 my entire family had either died in the ghetto or had been deported to the Treblinka death camp. After the ghetto uprising, I was deported to Auschwitz. Day after day my job there was to shovel dirt over discarded, still-smoldering ashes of cremated victims. I kept wondering whether I, too, would end up the same. But I was sustained by the fact that the number tattooed on my arm--#128232--added up to 18, the Jewish mystical symbol for life.
In January 1945 Szlamach was deported to Dachau, where he was liberated during a forced march on May 1, 1945, by U.S. soldiers. In July 1949 he emigrated to the United States.