"It was cool to have a chance to listen to a real person speak about what he went through during the Holocaust. He was the most credible source that we could have. I learned a lot more through his pictures and stories." ~ Boys Latin Charter School student
You can easily download Joe's biography here (pdf)
Joseph Kahn was born in a small town in Poland in 1922. He was 17-years-old when the Nazis occupied his hometown in September 1939, which was home to 39,000 Jews before the war began. A week after the invasion, the Nazis burned the synagogue, the center of Jewish culture, which was two blocks away from Joseph’s home. Joseph and his family hid for three days listening to the constant screaming and shooting coming from outside. Joseph left the hiding place to survey the damage and found charred bodies lining the streets. The Jewish community was forced to gather the remains of the Nazis’ victims and take them to the nearby cemetery.
In 1942 Joseph was arrested and transported to a labor camp. As the truck drove away, Joseph’s sister chased after it, screaming his name. The truck turned the corner, Joseph’s sister disappeared from sight, and he never saw her again. Joseph survived several Nazi labor camps, including Buchenwald, and a nine-day death march through knee-deep snow and bitter cold.
In 1945 American soldiers liberated Joseph after they found him lying in a pile of bodies, too weak to move. He weighed only 65 pounds. He spent three years recuperating in the hospital from malnutrition and tuberculosis. In 1950 Joseph moved to the United States with nothing but twenty dollars in his pocket and the clothes on his back. He had a cousin living in Philadelphia, which became his destination. Joseph still lives there today.