Nathan Kranowski sees his frightened face, but still finds it soothing.
"Even though I know many people had stories like mine, when I see the picture, I find it comforting to know that, indeed, I wasn't alone," he says.
Kranowski was orphaned by age 4. His parents, Polish immigrants living in Paris, died in Auschwitz's gas chambers.
He wasn't aware of his photo until a teacher at a Virginia middle school who'd invited him to speak about his childhood — something he does regularly — alerted him. She'd stumbled across it while Googling his name.
Kranowski says when he first saw the faded image, he almost fell over. He was struck by his sadness — his watery eyes, his tremulous mouth. But the photo showing him as a tiny, red-haired little boy also gave him a sense of peace.
"The more I can picture my past and fill in the gaps, the more satisfied I am," he says. "... I want to understand what happened to me, to make sense of it."
The photo, as it turns out, helped solve a personal mystery, too.
Until recently, Kranowski had known only that he'd been harbored by a Catholic couple on a farm, attended church and was called Pierre. But a French historian researching a group of Jewish children hidden in one village contacted him — through the museum — providing details of his life.
He revealed that Kranowski had lived in the village of Bais, Ille-et-Vilaine in Brittany and his protectors were the Fouchets.
Kranowski arrived in America at age 10. He became a professor, first teaching French, then accounting.
At 73 — and proud to still have some reddish hair — Kranowski is a charter member of the Holocaust museum. But surprisingly, he's never been there.
"I know all these things," he says. "I don't need to make myself suffer."
So he devotes part of his retirement telling school and church groups his story.
"I have a tremendous need to speak and tell people this really happened and it's not ancient history," he says. "The reason I do all this is because I don't want to forget."
The child was Jewish, but to survive in wartime Warsaw, 18-month-old Natalie Leya Weinstein needed a Christian name. Her father wrote a new name on a piece of paper, Natalie Yazinska, and left her on a stranger’s doorstep, hoping she would be taken in. He then sneaked into the Warsaw ghetto where fellow Jews gave him shelter. When the war was over, Weinstein learned that every member of his family had been murdered, including his wife, Sima. Now he lived only for one thing – finding out what happened to his daughter.
« Older Round Barns and Covered Bridges.... | “The irony is [that Greg’s par... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt