Nathan Chorowicz documents
Natan Chorowicz was born on March 10, 1923, in Warsaw, Poland, to Abraham and Ryfka Czakow Chorowicz. Abraham was born on March 28, 1900, in Warsaw, to Mordka and Pesa Kleinman Chorowicz. Abraham had five sisters and two brothers. Ryfka was born in 1901 in Warsaw, to Noach and Mindla Czakow. She had ten siblings. Ryfka’s parents were killed during World War I. In 1922, Abraham moved to Brussels and worked as a cabinet maker. Six months after Natan was born, Ryfka took him to Brussels. Natan had a sister, Marie, who was born on November 26, 1926, in Brussels. Abraham moved his siblings and mother to Brussels from 1924 to 1928. In 1930, Abraham opened a factory that produced seltzer, lemonade, and beer. The family was Jewish and spoke French and Yiddish. Natan attended private school and was a good student. He did not experience anti-Semitism. On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. The Chorowicz family fled Brussels to the French border, unaware that France was also being invaded. The family was caught between the German and British armies near Dunkirk and sent back to Brussels by German troops. Belgium surrendered on May 28. The Germans began gradually restricting Jewish civil rights. Natan joined the underground movement in 1940. He painted anti-German slogans on walls and put clandestine English newspapers in mailboxes at night. In spring 1942, Natan attempted to get false identity papers to flee to Switzerland, but the man he was working with was arrested in April. Natan hid in a small room in Brussels at night and saw his parents and friends in the day. On June 13, 1942, Jews were forced to wear Star of David patches. On June 26, Natan and Abraham were arrested. They were deported to Dannes-Camiers labor camp, near Calais in northern France. They worked on coastal fortifications. On October 31, 1942, the laborers were deported to Mechelen transit camp in Belgium. They stayed on the train in Mechelen and more people were added, forming transports 16 and 17. They were given no food or water. One of Natan’s friends hanged himself on the first night. On November 3, they arrived in Auschwitz. Natan and Abraham were selected for labor. Natan was tattooed with prisoner number 72363 and Abraham with 72364. They were forced into showers, then had to run naked to a barrack in block ten. The following morning, they were given their uniforms. After a few days, Natan was separated from Abraham and sent to Jawischowitz, a subcamp of Auschwitz built around a mine. He worked the night shift, digging for new buildings and shoveling gravel. He had a rotten tooth that the camp doctor agreed to pull out when his face became swollen. Instead of allowing the Jewish dentist to do it, the head doctor decided to try and broke Natan’s tooth four times before getting it out. Natan immediately had to go to work, where he fell behind and was lashed 25 times. In 1943, he caught malaria. A Polish worker agreed to get Natan quinine in exchange for shoes. There were constant beatings and barely any food. Natan improved his situation when he convinced the Germans that he was a carpenter because he had assisted Abraham when he was a cabinet maker. Natan smuggled tools back into the camp and traded them for bread with one of the guards. He also got several of his friends positions in carpentry. They did not work when they were not being watched and destroyed tools when possible. Natan was injured when he fell off scaffolding and hurt his kidney, but his friends helped him walk to work. On January 18, 1945, Jawischowitz was evacuated. The inmates were sent on a forced march and anyone who stopped walking was shot. In Gleiwitz, Silesia (Gliwice, Poland), they were forced into snow filled, open train cars with two armed SS guards and deported to Buchenwald. Of the 50 inmates in Natan’s train car, only 17 survived. Upon arrival on January 22, Natan was assigned prisoner number 117583. After a week, Natan was sent to labor in Ohrdruf, a subcamp of Buchenwald. After a few days, he was sent to Crawinkel, a subcamp of Ohrdruf, where he made tunnels for V1 rockets using sledgehammers and dynamite. They slept in bunkers and there was no sanitation and barely any food. After about six weeks, Natan was transferred to another subcamp of Ohrdruf, Espenfeld, where they did similar work but slept in tents. The conditions were so bad that several people died every night. Espenfeld was evacuated in late March and the inmates were sent on a forced march. On the way, one of Natan’s friends was run over by a tank. They arrived in Buchenwald in April. Buchenwald was being evacuated in the days after Natan returned, but he was not selected to leave. On April 11, 1945, Natan was liberated by the US Army. He befriended a Jewish lieutenant from New York, who gave Natan his rations. Natan repatriated to Belgium on April 30, 1945. Germany surrendered on May 7. Abraham returned in summer 1945. On December 18, 1943, Abraham had been transferred to Golleschau, a subcamp of Auschwitz that produced cement. On January 22, 1945, he was sent Sachsenhausen concentration camp and assigned prisoner number 130036. On February 17, 1945, Abraham was sent to Mauthausen and assigned prisoner number 130481. He was liberated in Mauthausen on May 5, 1945. Natan and Abraham learned that Ryfka and Marie has been arrested and sent to Mechelen transit camp in January 1943. They were deported to Auschwitz on January 15, 1943, on transport 18, and killed upon arrival. Abraham’s mother and siblings were also deported to Auschwitz and killed. None of Ryfka’s family members in Poland survived. Abraham was ill and lived in a convalescent home. Natan worked as a tailor to support himself and his father. Later in 1945, Natan met Estera, who was born on August 27, 1929, in Siedlce, Poland, and had survived the Holocaust in hiding in the Belgian countryside. They married in 1947. Abraham remained in the home until approximately 1950 and died in the 1950’s. Natan and Estera had a son in 1951. They immigrated to the United States on December 15, 1958, and settled in Orange, CA. Natan worked as a tailor. Natan and Estera became naturalized American citizens May 10, 1968, and changed their names to Natan and Estelle Caron. Natan, age 89, died on April 15, 2012.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Michael and Debi Caron
Gift of Michael A. Caron, 2012.
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