Morris Faintuch

Born in Radom, Poland our uncle Morris Faintuch was 10 ½ when the Nazis invaded. The Jews were all forced into a ghetto; however, Morris would sneak out regularly and sell cigarette butts for food. His parents had owned a leather store. When the Germans came, they wanted boots. However, some of the leather had holes. Consequently, Morris’ father was sentenced to 5 years in prison for treason. In jail, his father was forced to eat a sugar cube on which he choked to death. His mother had stayed in the ghetto until she caught typhus. When she died, Morris sneaked out of the ghetto and hid as best he could, disguised as a Polish boy, often sleeping in train cars. At some point he was denounced by the railway conductor.

Morris had spent much of his time pretending to be Christian; he, however wanted to die among his own people. So Faintuch joined a Jewish work brigade. He was later imprisoned and sent to Birkenau. He lost his name and became B1333. The infamous Dr. Mengele decided who was to live and who was to die. Children and the elderly were automatically sent to the gas chambers. It was only those who could work who would live. Mengele set a “height test” for them. Faintuch was short. But he put stones in his shoes and thus survived.

He escaped death many times. When in a line-up to be shot, Morris fainted at the exact moment that the bullets were fired. He crawled out of the pit at night when the bodies covering him had turned cold. As the Red Army approached, many prisoners were death-marched to Mauthausen. On the way, Faintuch caught a piece of chocolate thrown by a soldier. That chocolate saved his life. The Jews on the march were given poisoned soup at the farm that housed them. Since he had eaten chocolate, he was not hungry. Once again, he survived.

At the end of the war, the British Brigade helped survivors get to ships for British Mandate Palestine. Faintuch lived in Moshav Ber Tuvia. Despite being under-aged, he finagled his way into the Palmach. At this time, he contracted malaria. The army doctors told him that if he wanted to survive, he would have to move to a completely different climate. His older brother, Henry, brought Morris to Winnipeg. He worked until he could buy a small grocery store in one of Winnipeg’s most notorious neighborhoods. Although he was often beaten and robbed, Morris always said that nothing was as bad as what he had lived through during the war. In Winnipeg, he married and had children who now have families of their own. He was dedicated to his brother and sister-in-law, visiting often especially in their later years. Morris became president of the General Monash Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. He regularly volunteered as a speaker for the Jewish community as well as travelling with the March of the Living recounting his story to thousands. Morris Faintuch’s story of survival has become legend.

Helen Kesten

Shelley Faintuch

Jack Faintuch

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