Born: Warsaw, Poland
Describes Warsaw shortly after the German occupation in 1939, and his first experience of antisemitism [Interview: 1990]
Ben was one of four children born to a religious Jewish family. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. After the Germans occupied Warsaw, Ben decided to escape to Soviet-occupied eastern Poland. However, he soon decided to return to his family, then in the Warsaw ghetto. Ben was assigned to a work detail outside the ghetto, and helped smuggle people out of the ghetto—including Vladka (Fagele) Peltel, a member of the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB), who later became his wife. Later, he went into hiding outside the ghetto and posed as a non-Jewish Pole. During the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943, Ben worked with other members of the underground to rescue ghetto fighters, bringing them out through the sewers and hiding them on the "Aryan" side of Warsaw. After the uprising, Ben escaped from Warsaw by posing as a non-Jew. Following liberation, he was reunited with his father, mother, and younger sister.
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