May 1, 1934,
Marcel Drimer was born in Drohobycz, Poland, a small town now part of Ukraine. His father, Jacob, worked as an accountant in a lumber factory while his mother, Laura, raised Marcel and his younger sister, Irena.
Germany Invades Poland
When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, the town of Drohobycz fell under Soviet control in accordance with the German-Soviet Pact. Although Jews were not singled out, Drohobycz was changed into a Soviet town and Marcel was made to go to a Russian kindergarten.
On June 22, 1941, Germany violated the German-Soviet Pact and attacked Soviet territory. Within a few weeks Drohobycz was occupied by German forces. In August 1942, Marcel, his parents, and his sister were forced into the Drohobycz ghetto, where they lived in one room and food was scarce. Deportations were common and much of Marcel’s extended family was taken from the ghetto to the Belzec death camp, where they were systematically murdered.
Marcel and His Family Go into Hiding
During this time, Marcel hid with his parents and sister in secret bunkers to avoid deportation. Before the ghetto was liquidated, Marcel’s father bribed a guard and the family escaped to Mlynki Szkolnikowe, a small village near their hometown.
In August 1943, a Ukrainian family hid Marcel, his family, and nine other Jews. The Drimers took cover in the stable until their fear of being found by the Nazis forced them to hide in a hole in the ground for the remainder of the harsh winter. Capture by the Nazis would mean death for not only Marcel and his family but also for the family hiding them.
After the War
In August 1944, the Soviet army liberated Marcel and his family. Due to the hunger and physical deprivation of his time in hiding, Marcel’s legs could no longer support his body and he had to relearn how to walk. In fall 1945 the Drimers moved to Walbrzych, where Marcel finished high school before leaving for engineering college in Wroclaw. In 1961 he moved to the United States and today he serves as a Museum volunteer.
Studio portrait of Marcel Drimer and his mother Laura. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Marcel and Ania Drimer