Hyman Abrams was born Chaim Zalman Abramczyk on December 10th, 1918 in the town of Bendzin, Poland. Of the 5 children born to Pinchas and Bronia who survived early childhood, he was the youngest. His siblings were Basia, Yitzhak, Malka and Lea. Hyman’s family were Chasidic Jews but even as a young man, Chaim was more interested in the secular world than the religious one. When the Nazis invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, Pinchas Abramczyk was worried that his 20-year old son might be drafted into the Polish army where he would be unable to keep Kosher. But the rabbi informed Pinchas that the Jewish community would have much more to worry about than the inability to keep Kosher…Hyman was a chocolate maker by profession.
Hyman remembered when the Nazis entered Bendzin on September, 8th, 1939 and burned the synagogue. Shortly afterward, he was separated from his wife Genia and sent to forced labor. He was in the forced / labor concentration camp system for 5 years. Blechhammer, Sakrau, Freiwaldau and Buchenwald were among the camps he was incarcerated in. Hyman worked on construction projects including the Reichsautobahn system. He was a strong man who took many risks while incarcerated, including stealing food from Nazi stockpiles. He was punished for this by being hung from his arms on a lamp post while Nazis ate sausages and drank beer. When he passed out, they threw water on him and sun him around while still suspended by his arms. Additionally, a target was placed on the back of his uniform, should he try to escape.
He did eventually escape while on the death march from Buchenwald through Bavaria. Along with the two men on either side of him, they stepped out of line at night and jumped into the marshy area along the route they were marched along. This was shortly before the Allied troops seized Bavaria from the Nazis. Hyman contracted typhus and recovered in an American field hospital. After recovering, he journeyed to Bergen-Belsen where many survivors went to search for relatives. There he learned his wife was perished. He also learned his brother, one of his sisters and his parents had perished. His brother and sister’s spouses and young sons also perished. He did find his first cousin, Frida Abramczyk, and invited her to come back to Bavaria with him and his friend, Morris and a Hungarian survivor named Eva Vezer. When she came a few months later, she married his friend Morris and Hyman married Eva in a double ceremony on January 25th, 1946. Hyman and Eva had a son in October of 1946. In July of 1949, Hyman’s uncle, Arthur Wiener, sponsored the family to come to the United States. They settled in New York City where, after a while, Hyman found work as a chocolate maker with Barton’s Chocolates. He eventually left due to back problems and was in the retail butcher business. Their daughter, Bonnie, was born in 1956.
In 2007, Bonnie became the Director of the Center for Holocaust Awareness and Information (CHAI) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester.
Biography written by: Bonnie Abrams, Daughter