Before the War

Pajeczno, Poland

Sidney Finkel was born Sevek Finkelstein in Piotrkow, Poland on December 19, 1931. For the average boy, let alone a Jewish boy, to be born in the early 1930s. Hitler would become the Chancellor of Germany in 1933, the Great Depression was at its peak, and winter was extremely rough when Sidney Finkel was born. Surviving the winter during the 1930s isn’t the same as surviving the winter today. Sidney’s father, Lieb Finkelstein, struggled to provide food and housing for his family. When Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933 conditions for the Jewish community in Poland began to become difficult for them. Anti-Semitism was spreading which lead to obstacles towards equality of the Jewish community in Poland. Sidney Finkel’s first experience with Anti-Semitism was when Sidney’s mother, Faiga Finkelstein, sent Sidney to the store as a kid to pick up some threads at the store. When Sidney arrived at the store many customers called out that Sidney was a Jew and not to serve him. Sidney’s father owned a flourmill and a sawmill located in Pajeczno. In the summer of 1939, when Sidney was eight he and his family moved there. While there, one of his fathers workers, poured a full bag of flour on Sidney’s head. The worker then laughed at Sidney and said, “Get out of here you little Jew or I will put you in the grinder.” Sidney ran home to his mother and sister where they both laughed at how Sidney looked. Sidney told his brother Isaac what had happened as he worked with their father and was one of the managers of the plant. His brother’s response to the situation was that, “Listen, (Sidney) I have enough trouble with these Jew-hating workers and I am not going to start any more trouble on your behalf.” This was the first time that Sidney had experienced mistreatment due to being a Jew and felt humiliated of the situation.