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MOSHE SHOHAM

MOSHE SHOHAM

“My twin brother remained behind”

I and my twin brother Yaakov were born in Kovno on September 29, 1929. My mother, Sonia, was a dentist, and my father, Tanchum, was a teacher and afterwards a dental technician. We lived on 11 Zamenhof St. in Kovno. It was a traditional, Zionist Jewish home. We attended a Hebrew school called Schwabes.

The Russians took over Lithuania in 1940. Anti-Semitism increased with the restrictions on emerging Zionism and the Hebrew language.

The Germans invaded Lithuania in 1941. In August 1941 the gates of the Kovno ghetto were locked in the Slobodka neighborhood. Our entire extended family was located in the small ghetto. Within two and a half months the small ghetto was liquidated. During this liquidation they took my father, grandfather, grandmother, aunt, her husband and children to the Ninth Fort, where they were murdered. Those who remained, my mother, my brother and I, moved to the big ghetto. We went through all the Aktionen [roundups] and survived.

The Kovno ghetto was liquidated in July 1944. Those who remained were transferred to Germany by train.

In Stutthof, the first stop, we were separated from our mother and continued on with the men to Landsberg camp. About a week later the Germans sorted out 131 boys, among them my brother and I, and we were sent to Dachau camp. Eight days later we were transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and I had a number tattooed on my arm:

B 2887. On January 18, 1945, we were evacuated on foot and in trains to Althammer and Mauthausen. On the way, while we were waiting at the Tichau train station, we were bombed by an Allied plane. A bomb fell beside the car we were in and beside the cars of the German army that were beside us. While this was happening I was sitting back to back with my brother. My brother Yaakov was slightly injured in the head, was bandaged and taken to the car with other wounded people. I saw him once, during a short stop. That was the last time.

 

In the middle of April 1945 we were marched to Gunskirchen camp. At that time there were 39 of us from the original group.

After liberation the Jewish Brigade gathered children from the camps, including me. After a while we were transferred to southern Italy and brought to the resort town of Santa Maria di Leuca, where we stayed for half a year in a youth group, until we received immigration permits to Israel [Mandatory Palestine].

I arrived in Atlit in a British ship on November 8, 1945 – a lone boy of 16 without a family. On November 11, 1945 we were transferred to Kibbutz Maanit, where we stayed for about two years in the framework of the Youth Aliyah.  I was drafted into the Engineering Corps in June 1948, and fought in the War of Independence. I continued on in the permanent army after my compulsory army service. I did courses and training and advanced in military rank and positions. I retired from the army on March 29, 1976, when I was honorably discharged after 28 years of service and activity. At that time I was the Deputy Commander of the Engineering Corps [Lt.-Colonel].

I married Bath-Sheva on August 31, 1954. We have two daughters and three grandchildren. I brought my mother, who survived the Holocaust, to Israel in the middle of 1956. She died of old age in 1980.

I had a second career in the hotel business. I was the assistant manager of a five-star hotel in Tel Aviv for 24 years, and retired at the age of 70.

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