Harry was born in a Polish village on May 15, 1917. But in 1930 as the Great Depression took hold, 13 year old Harry had to drop out of school to work in a Warsaw sausage factory.
Later as World War ll began, Harry was drafted into the Polish military and during the German invasion in 1939, he was captured. Being Jewish the Germans sent him to their Auschwitz death camp, yet Harry somehow managed to survive.
But then in January, 1945 as the Soviet Army neared Auschwitz and it appeared he and the other survivors would be rescued, the Germans forced those survivors, many of them human skeletons to walk a “death march,” in snow and freezing temperatures to other camps. For even as the war was lost, the Nazis still tried to kill as many Jews as possible.
However, in the chaos resulting from the war’s fierce fighting, Harry, his step-brother Abe and a third man escaped and they survived.
After the war, Poland suffered from food shortages and disease and the Polish economy was in ruins. Harry returned to what was left of his village. There he found his childhood friend Hilda but little else for with very few exceptions, his family and hers and nearly all Jews had been killed.
In this bleak environment, Harry and Hilda had each other and were married in 1945. Hopeful for better lives, they arrived in Los Angeles in 1948, speaking no English and having no money.
Desperate for work, Harry got a job disposing of animal remains at a meat packing facility. But the couple learned to speak English, saved their money and bought a small home. In the backyard of that small home, they began to raise chickens and sold the eggs to their neighbors.
With egg sales going well, in the 1950’s, they purchased inexpensive land in Riverside County in Norco and set up an egg ranch, Norco Ranch, Inc. Over the years as their family grew to include three daughters and a son, they kept adding chickens.
Norco Ranch became so successful, that in 2000, when 83-year-old Harry sold it, it had become one of the biggest egg producers and distributors in California, and had about 450 employees. Its customers included such prominent firms as Albertson’s, Costco, the Ralph’s division of Kroger, the Von’s division of Safeway and Trader Joe’s.
But for Harry and Hilda, the Nazi horrors, the loss of their families and the extreme poverty they had endured remained strongly within them and they were determined to help others in dire need.
As Norco Ranch prospered Harry and Hilda became philanthropists, helping Holocaust survivor organizations, and they contributed to building the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. They wrote checks to other charities as well.
But at the age of 95, on July 19th, 2012 Harry passed away from lung disease complications. He is survived by Hilda, his wife of 67 years, and by their four children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Harry is also survived by all the people Norco Ranch employed, and by its many customers and vendors and by the thousands of people whose lives his and Hilda’s charity donations helped.
At Auschwitz, and at the other death camps, the Germans tattooed identification numbers on their prisoners. They tattooed No. 144492 on Harry’s left arm, a tattoo he wore for the rest of his life, in memory of what had happened, and to encourage him to do something about it by making the world a better place.