Oskar Knoblauch

Leipzig, Germany

Oskar Knoblauch was born November 27, 1925, in Leipzig Germany where he lived with his parents, sister Ilse and brother Siegmund.  He attended kindergarten through 3rd grade in Leipzig until the law passed by the Nazi regime forbidding Jewish children to attend schools or any other institutions of learning.  In 1936 the family was forced to leave Germany because his parents were Polish citizens. They settled in Krakow, Poland where Oskar continued his education until the outbreak of World War ll, September 1, 1939. Soon after the German occupation of Poland new laws and restrictions were imposed against the Jewish population, including the wearing the Star of David on the right forearm.

In March 1941 a 9-foot walled ghetto was established. The Knoblauch family was assigned to one room in an apartment house on Ulica Benedikta. Forced labor and deportations to concentration camps started as early as mid-1941 and continued with deadly intensity, until the ghetto’s liquidation March 13, 1943. At that time Mrs. Knoblauch was sent to a slave labor camp, Plaszow while Oskar and the others in the family, along with 116 Jews from the ghetto were assigned to work at Pomorska. Oskar’s workstation was the boiler room in the basement that provided hot water and heat for this gigantic complex. This place was the headquarters for the: Geheime Stadts Polizei (Gestapo), SD (Security Department) the SS and SP (Security Police).

While working as forced laborers at Pomorska Street, Mr. Knoblauch was murdered by a Nazi.  Oskar along with Ilse and Siegmund escaped on January 17, 1945 and were liberated the following day by advancing Soviet soldiers. The rest of their fellow workers were deported the eve of January 17th to a Konzentrationslager or concentration camp in the German interior.  Very few survived.

In summer of 1945 after the war, Oskar and his siblings were very fortunate to reunite with their mother and cousin.  Ilse and her husband, whom she married after the war, left Krakow to join a kibbutz in the Negev Desert.  Siegmund went to the British occupied sector, while Oskar along with his mother and cousin ended up in displaced person (DP) Camp Feldafing near Munich, which was at the time in the American occupied sector.

The options of settling down anywhere in post-war Europe, were very slim for surviving Jews. The resentment toward Jews was common practice as it had been before World War ll.  After locating an uncle in Canada, they were sponsored by a generous elder Toronto couple. On June 11, 1949, after a 7-day ocean voyage they arrived in Halifax, Canada.
Up on arrival in Toronto, at age 24, Oskar proudly joined the work force and got his very first paying job taking home $18.25 a week.  In time he was earning more money, which enabled him to marry a beautiful young American woman, Lila.  Unfortunately Oskar’s mother passed away a few months before the birth of their first child, Linda.
After some reconsideration, the newly created family moved to the USA February 27th 1953. On December 14, 1956 Oskar became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States of America. Eventually the family was blessed with two new arrivals, Paul, and then Tracy.  In the years gone by Oskar lost his dear wife Lila, and then his daughter Tracy at age 33 – both succumbed to cancer.

For the past several years Oskar has given his time to performing community service by speaking about his experiences sustained during the Holocaust.  He speaks to both adults and students in order to educate all to become voices of tolerance and respect.

Learn about Oskar’s Project Voice of Tolerance.