Salomón Schlosser- author, Mi Zeide Es Historia, Born on Yom Kippur, October 7 or 8, 1924, December 24, 1924 (official papers), In Lodz, Poland
Salomón remembers being 4 years old in a ‘room’ where the Rabbi would say something and the children repeated what the Rabbi said. As a child he sold onions in the morning otherwise he would not have eaten. He came from a loving family with a religious father. Growing up in the 30’s was very calm. He did not have non-Jewish friends because it just didn’t exist. The Jewish people lived in one section and the non-Jews lived in another. There was no connection between the two. “Even the shoemaker was Jewish.” The meals were all served at home and there were not many restaurants. “Maybe a prostitute or a gigolo would be in the restaurant but the Schlosser family had meals in the home. People worked from 8am to 12pm and then again from 3pm to 7pm and the lunch was 3 hour.
In 1939 Lodz became a ghetto. As Jews were being gathered for this ghetto they were being killed outside of the ghetto. Jews were now wearing Jewish stars both on the front and the back. If you did not have a star on you were immediately killed. From 1939-1941 Salomón was in the ghetto. In 1941 Salomón was now in a working camped called Pozen. His job was to clean the city and the parks. The watchmen were local people over the age of 60 or more. There were no policemen. Solomon remembers being given 800 calories of food then reduced to 600 calories and then down to 200 calories. The soup was different everyday and they got 100 gr. of bread.
At the age of 17 in 1941 he was together with other boys in this working camp ages 16-21. There were about 1000 boys in this working camp. His mother was in a different working camp. The older people that watched were very nice but the city of Pozen was very anti-Semitic. From the 1000 people that went to this camp after 2 years, 200 people were sent back to Lodz and Solomon was one of them. He was given only one day of freedom to see his family. Here he learned that his mother and 2 sisters were placed in a truck and were sent to be gassed by the fumes of a truck along with 60 other people. Every 2 hours people were being sent to Helmo to be killed by fumes. He found this out after the war. In 1939 2 brothers went to Russia, one survived and one was killed in 1944 in the army.
From there he was sent to jail in the Lodz ghetto along with the other 200 people. From there he was sent on the next transport to Auschwitz just before Passover in 1943 the journey to Auschwitz lasted 4 days. From the spring of 1943 to January 1945 this was the home for Solomon. In January 1945 Auschwitz was liquidated and he was now part of the march for the dead. Of the 1000 people that entered Auschwitz 200 stayed in the camp and 800 people were sent to the gas chamber. He did not face Dr. Mengele because he was selecting twins. He knew nothing about Dr. Mengele.
Right away Salomón was shaved by another Jewish prisoner and then went to take a shower. Water came out. He stood in a line where his left arm was extended and within a minute and with 2 heated needles, Salomón would now be 111907, marked for life.
Salomón had one of the early numbers because there was no A or B in front of it.
Salomón work in Auschwitz was building a women’s camp because there were no camps for women. He also helped build the gypsy camp. The gypsies were there only a few months before they were sent to the gas chamber. 10,000 gypsies were gassed in Auschwitz. A priest was aware of this gassing and complained that the gassing needed to be stopped.
One day in Auschwitz a Nazi guard asked the group that Solomon was in if someone was a “Schlosser”. Schlosser means a locksmith. It is also the last name of dear Salomón. Without thinking what the Nazi was asking Salomón answered that HE was a Schlosser. The Nazi guard asked Salomón, “how many years have you been a locksmith?” He answered 19 years, all of his life. The Nazi guard was very upset with Salomón because he felt that he was being disrespected. He took Salomón in the December freeze in 1944 and had him work outdoors, barefooted, in a ditch blending straw and mud to be used for coal. After awhile the Nazi guard went to Salomón and asked him why was he disrespected him. Salomón answered “I am a Schlosser and this is my family name. I didn’t mean to disrespect you.” He was removed from this job and the Nazi told him, “907 you are my shoeshine boy.” He became a dishwasher where the Nazis ate. He was able to eat better than other prisoners because of the leftovers. The Nazi soldiers were given a 25-liter pot and it was Salomón’s job to clean the pots for the soldiers. No one was there to watch over Salomón as he ate the leftovers. There were about 5 people doing what Salomón did and this was considered the “best” job.
He slept on 25 inches in a bunk that was 3 floors high. In the middle of this was a stove to keep them warm.
The bathroom was a building about 200 feet from him. There were 50 “holes” on one side and 50 holes on another. If you were lucky you would find a piece of paper from the bags of cement and the paper was “very hard” on the skin. Once you sat on this hole your feet were on one side and the elimination went to the back of a wall.
If you were lucky you could enter the Canada barrack which had some paper.
He wore a striped prisoner uniform and a yellow Star of David. Yellow meant Jewish, a green star meant Germans and the red star was for political. Pink was for homosexuals but they were killed immediately upon entering Auschwitz.
His clothes were removed at night and placed in a baggie so they could be washed once a week. You were lucky if you got your clothes back. This was so help control the lice.
Canada was a barrack that a place where everything was divided. He had a friend in the Canada Barrack and once in a while he was able to get an extra sweater from his friend but it was something that was not talked about.
WHAT IS THIS? Salomón was 19 years old and there was no Salomón, no mind, no thinking, you just wanted one more day and you did what you were told to do hoping that you would survive this day and pray for the next, hoping it would one day be over. You asked no questions. One day a Nazi passed by Salomón and he forgot to remove his cap. He was beat 5 times for not removing this cap but lucky that he was not killed for this.
Solomon knew of a Romanian soldier in the camp. He was called a simple soldier because he avoided going to the front so he watched over in Auschwitz. There were no German soldiers in Auschwitz. German criminals were the leaders in Auschwitz. There was a special room for the German criminals. The watchmen were on the outside and the German criminals were following the orders from the Germans. The German criminals made their own orders. It was cheaper to keep the criminals in the camp than in the jail. The jails were emptied and put into Auschwitz.
It was a German soldier who did ask if there was a ‘locksmith” though.
January 18, 1945 Auschwitz was liquidated by taking everyone to Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camp on the first of February. They walked for these 12 days this walk was called the March of the Dead
This was in Austria near Lyntz the second largest city in Austria. Word got out that the Russians were invading. As the Russians came closer, they left Mauthausen and went to Melk concentration camp. They went in a truck from Melk Concentration Camp and continuing to Ebensee Concentration Camp. Salomón was completely liberated on May 5, 1945 but it was an American Rabbi who took him to Lyntz. There Salomón felt a sense of freedom when he insulted a German General calling him a bastard and telling him that his father was a bastard. You are a killer. The whole family was a bastard. The German soldier told the Rabbi and the Rabbi threw out Salomón. The Rabbi told Salomón that he should not insult ANYONE. Salomón HAD A VOICE.
The only thing Salomón had was a sweater and maybe another shirt. He didn’t have a toothbrush but then again, he didn’t own one until he was 22 years old. To clean teeth you rubbed salt on your finger. Only the millionaires had toothbrushes in Poland.
Once Salomón got out, he got sick. Outside of the city was a kindergarten and inside was a Hungarian nurse and her husband was a chauffer. This nurse took care of him. Her name was Ruth and his name was Victor. An ambulance took him to the hospital and he was diagnosed with Typhus. He was in the hospital for 30 days and then went into a resting home to recover. All he could think about was to Survive Survive Survive. He ended up in Kaiserhoff.
His father died in 1940 and it was one of the last funerals to be had. He believes that his dad passed from hunger. His mother passed in 1942 in Helmo during a transport.
From 1946-1949 he remained in Austria and in 1949 he came to America on a military ship. 11,000 people were on the military ship and they slept in a hammock.
Their meal was rice and prunes. The ship went to New York and then they went to Miami Florida. Finally Salomón felt freedom in Florida. Jewish Federation gave them $27.00 a month. He went to school and worked in a kitchen. After that he worked in a hotel and then went back to cosmetics. He returned to New York and sold cosmetics (soaps and such not makeup) at fair trade items. He gave a discount by 1 or 2 cents cheaper. His store was open from 11:30am until 2:30pm. This was when people went to lunch and they would shop for their shaving supplies and personal hygiene items. During the other times of the day he was buying merchandise. He didn’t use banks because he took in cash and paid in cash.
In 1955, a matchmaker approached Salomón and he met his bride. The wedding was on January 1st. He planned it that way so that no one would come to his wedding and he could save money. Only 6 people came to his wedding.
He went to Mexico and there realized that the marriage would not work out. He met the perfect person, Maña, his secretary. It was just last year that Maña passed. In Mexico City Solomón had a hardware store called Coyote.
In 1993 Solomón had heart problem and with his children in the United States, he decided that Chula Vista would be his home. Solomón is now 95 years old. He is more than just a survivor of the Holocaust. He has also survived cancer.
Solomón still talks in the schools today. He is loving, warm, sweet and my prayer for him is that he stays alive! He is the author of , Mi Zeide Es Historia which is a children’s book about his holocaust experiences. 57,000 of the book have been distributed in Mexico to this day.
Who is Solomón today? “Stay Alive, that’s it, that’s it. Just stay alive. People don’t talk when they are dead so stay alive.”