— Back to index —

Nathan Janower

Nathan Janower describes the difficulties in moving to the Warsaw Ghetto.

Nathan was born in 1923 in Warsaw, Poland.  His father was a tailor and his mother was a housewife. He was the third of four children and had one older brother and sister as well as one younger sister. The family was poor, sharing one room among the six members of the family. 

He was a member of a voluntary army at the on-set of the war where he was given a uniform and some training. While digging holes in the street, Nathan was injured when a bomb exploded near him. He was luckily rescued by a sister. 

Eventually his family was forced into the Warsaw Ghetto and faced the difficulty of transporting their belongings there. The family used a small children’s wagon to move their belongings to the Jewish Ghetto.  

While in the Ghetto, Nathan managed to make some money working outside of the Ghetto. His father escaped to search for Nathan’s brother. Nathan never saw his father or his brother again. He managed to escape the Jewish Ghetto by ripping up his Jewish ID and crossed the security bridge by pretending to be a Pole without ID. He arrived in Zambrow where he managed to find work in a Jewish ghetto. When the Ghetto was liquidated, he managed to escape from a transport truck but was caught. Using his knowledge of Catholicism and good Polish accent he managed to convince the German soldiers that he was Polish, not Jewish.  

A Polish man discovered that Nathan was Jewish and offered him identity papers if he agreed to go to Germany to work in place of his son. He agreed but Nathan soon ran away from the camp as one of the men he was working with began to blackmail him because he suspected that he was a Jew.  

From there Nathan managed to secure a job as a Polish stableman on a farm for the father of an SS officer. The SS man was dissatisfied with his work and beat him severely one day. Nathan retaliated by hitting back and was placed in a concentration camp as a result. The SS officer was killed in 1944 after which his mother came to the concentration camp and brought Nathan back to the farm.  He remained on the farm until he was liberated by the Russian army.  

After the war Nathan returned to Warsaw only to find his family home in rubbles. He was unable to find his family on the refugee lists and so left for Germany, eventually settling in Gorzow.  

He moved to Canada, with his wife Cathy and their four children in 1970. He passed away on February 15th, 2010 at 88 years old.  

Nathan Janower

 The Germans saw some Jews were singing and happy so they started to shoot.