Philip Markowicz was born in 1924 in Przerab, a small village near Lodz in Poland. He was the son of a District Rabbi. An Orthodox Jew, Philip was known as a "Talmud Hochum," a Talmud prodigy. He attended the Przedborz Yeshiva, but the Nazi invasion of Poland closed the institution.
During the War
Philip was at the Yeshiva on Sept 1, 1939 when the Germans invaded. He went home to his village. When it became unsafe, they escaped from the village, hidden in a hay wagon, and went to Lodz. Shortly later, they were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Philip continued to observe strict religious laws even when most Jews had abandoned them. In the ghetto, surrounded by death and cruelty, Philip suffered extreme deprivation while working in the ghetto sweatshops. On August 31, 1944 he and his brother were sent on the last transport, deceptively on a passenger train, to Auschwitz. On arrival, he was not selected as a slave laborer, but he snuck into a work detail when the guards were not watching, escaping the gas chambers. He survived a series of slave labor concentration camps, enduring cold, starvation, and beatings. The camps included Gross-Rosen, a large complex with 60 subcamps in eastern Germany and Poland, Kaltwasser where there he worked on building a road, digging tunnels, putting up electric poles, and other hard labor, Metzbach Tail where he stayed for a few months and Flossenburg, Germany. This camp was both a work and death camp. Here he worked at a quarry. He was selected again to go to Regensburg, Germany where he worked on railroad lines. In April, Philip and the others started on a Death March. He and his brother escaped the death march, and they were liberated in 1945.
After the War
Philip was 5'10", but weighed a skeletal 87 pounds and was wracked with typhus and tuberculosis when the war ended. After months in a hospital, he was sent to a Displaced Persons camp where he was elected to the governing council, met and married his wife, Ruth, another Holocaust survivor, and had a son. Theirs were the first marriage and the first birth in the camp. After waiting five long years, the family was finally permitted to immigrate to the U.S. Upon arriving in 1950, Mr. Markowicz often worked two (once three) jobs at a time while studying electronics and television, eventually establishing a successful TV business. They had two daughters to join their son, and lived a comfortable middle class American life. He is now retired and resides in Sylvania, Ohio, and Aventura, Florida. His autobiography, My Three Lives
, is in its second edition, and he is writing a book of Torah
commentary. A multimedia musical oratorio, Tikvah
(translation: Hope), inspired by Mr. Markowicz's life and philosophical writings, has been performed in many venues in the United States. Philip died on November 8, 2017. You can read his obituary here
. May his memory be a blessing.
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