Wolf Zaidman

Wolf and Renate after their marriage, taken in Bergen-Belsen. Fred Zaidman private collection.

Wolf Zaidman was born August 12, 1914 to Moshe and Ryfka Zajdman in the small village of Zytno, Poland. When he was about three years old, his family moved to Będzin because the town’s large Jewish population provided greater opportunities for work, education, and social life. Wolf had six siblings: Mendel and Lejbus (born before the census of 1910), Hana (1911, died in infancy), Fiszel (1912), Cwelta (1920), and Frajdla (1922).

During the years leading up to the war, Wolf made his living as a carpenter. When the Nazis invaded, his eldest brother Mendel tried to escape to Russia. He was never heard from again. Wolf spent a year in the Kamionka ghetto before being sent to the labor camp Dora-Mittelbau, and then to sub-camps of Gross-Rosen, where he worked as a carpenter. Wolf’s parents (Moshe and Ryfka), sisters (Cwelta and Frajdla), and brothers (Lejbus and Fiszel) were taken directly from Będzin to Auschwitz and murdered.

After 1945, Wolf spoke with his children only a few times about his experiences in the Holocaust. When his son Fred Zaidman, who was born in the 1950s in the United States, probed for details, Wolf relayed this story: While in the camps, a Nazi soldier gave him a shovel and ordered him to dig. He knew he was digging his own grave. When he had dug the grave, the soldier kicked him into it, then walked away laughing.

In April 1945, Wolf was on a death march to Bergen-Belsen. One week after his arrival, the camp was liberated. Wolf spent the next five years in a DP camp near the former concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen. Wolf met Renate (born in 1912 as Dvorah Rifka Kochman) who was also a survivor of the Holocaust. They married in August 1945. In June 1947, their first son Martin was born. The young family left Bergen-Belsen in 1950 for Los Angeles.