Mr. Goldwasser, who has a son in Webster and a grandson in Irondequoit, now resides in Florida. He lived through the Holocaust and tells his story in the film.
“Anyway, that’s the way it was,” Samuel Goldwasser says quietly in a documentary on his childhood years in Poland during World War II.
Goldwasser, now 85, was born in the city of Radom, Poland Oct. 7, 1926. He is a Holocaust survivor. His parents, three sisters, aunts and uncles were not.
He tells the story of the day his mother took him to the gates of the ghetto, surrounded by fences and barbed wire, in the part of the city of Radom where Jewish people had been placed, and he escaped.
That was the last time Samuel Goldwasser saw his mother.
“He never really talked about the war years, or what it was like to be in the concentration camps, even to me,” said his son, Howard Goldwasser of Webster.
Then Howard’s son, Jason, told his grandfather he wanted to know “what actually happened.”
Samuel Goldwasser wrote down his memoirs for his grandson, and did not spare the horrors he and his family endured.
Since he was just a teen when he escaped the ghetto, his father managed by “street smarts,” Howard Goldwasser said, but he was captured, in the spring of 1944, and sent to a concentration camp called Majdanek.
“The whole time I was in Majdanek was about a month but believe me it felt like a lifetime,” Samuel Goldwasser writes in his memoir.
A few years after Samuel Goldwasser wrote his memoir, Howard’s sister-in-law, filmmaker Renee Sotile, interviewed him, turning six hours of tape into a 26-minute documentary that won a Hartford Jewish Film Festival award in 2009.
The film just this month has received national exposure on cable television.
“The two things I’d like people to take people away from the film are these,” Howard Goldwasser said.
“First, man’s cruelty and inhumanity to other people has not stopped since the war and the Holocaust. It continues in Africa and Serbia. It’s important not to disregard it as something that happened 60 or 70 years ago ... It happens every day and could happen again, even in our own country.”
“Second, the horrors of war are also visited on the next generation of survivors ... It never stops. The story and the experiences are passed down from generation to generation ... War doesn’t stop when the peace treaty is signed.”
While he didn’t know, until the past few years, a lot about his father’s experiences, “I do remember my father’s night terrors,” Howard Goldwasser said.
To finally hear the full story in his father’s words, he added, “was a revelation to me.”
Samuel Goldwasser came to the U.S. in the late 1940s, shortly after the end of World War II.
Page 2 of 2 - Since his father had been a tailor and he also had some skill, he was sponsored to come to Rochester and placed in a job at the Hickey Freeman clothing factory, his son said.
His father, always mechanically inclined, later opened a gas station on Ridge Road in Greece, Howard Goldwasser said, then managed Veterans Auto Parts for his brother-in-law, Marvin Goldblatt, who owned the company.
Samuel Goldwasser resided in Irondequoit until he and his wife moved to Florida in 1979. They have two children, five grandchildren and, now, great-grandchildren. His grandson Jason now also resides in Irondequoit.
He ended his memoir for his grandson this way: “I guess life gave us some pleasure ... My past is behind me and I hope to see my family grow prosperous and happy.”