Beth-El Archives Oral Histories
Oral History interview with R.D. Moses,
Max Pila (1920-1999)
Survivor of Auschwitz, Birkenau, Nazi Death March
Date of Interview: May 12, 1996
Polish-born Max Pila, his wife Rosa, and her son Harry, survived the Holocaust and in the early 1950s forged a new life in Fort Worth. Beloved by Sunday school students, Max worked in the catering department at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. After “Holocaust: the mini-series” aired on national TV in 1978, he began to speak openly about the hell he had endured under the Nazis. In this oral history he describes his upbringing in a small Polish village, how he witnessed the hanging of a brother, the inhumane work details at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi Death March in the snow, and his happy marriage to Rosa in Belgium after the war. In 1922, his stepson Harry Pila, who lives in New Jersey, wrote the memoir, The Journey of a Hidden Child, which is available through Amazon from Amsterdam Publishers.
To read more please click on this link: Oral History with Max Pila
ORAL HISTORY with MYER MEHL
INTERVIEWER: Faye Berkowitz
Fort Worth Jewish Sesquicentennial Committee
Date of Interview: November 10, 1985
Myer Mehl, (1907-1991) was the owner of Mehl’s Shoeland for 41 years. His parents, Annie and Israel N. Mehl, and his three uncles were active at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. Myer remembers watching a Ku Klux Klan parade downtown during which many of the masked Klansmen called out to his father, “Hello I.N.” and “Hello, Israel.” Myer mentions surnames of many still-familiar merchants and prominent families. An area with fresh produce stores and vendors was referred to as “Cabbage Row.” He recalls that when he and his teenage friends walked to Temple Beth-El during the High Holidays, they were not allowed in.
To read more please click on this link: Oral History with Myer Mehl
ORAL HISTORY with SAM REZNIKOFF
INTERVIEWER: R. D. Moses
Date of Interview: July 10, 1998
Sam Reznikoff (1921-2014) On Thanksgiving Day of 1946, Sam Reznikoff, who was born and raised on New York’s Lower Eastside, came to Texas to obtain an Aviation Mechanics License. He wanted to work on airplanes. He ended up in the insurance business, with a sterling reputation and a successful office that he passed down to his son-in-law. He was an independent scholar as well as a part-time farmer who raised his children in rural Parker County. Reznikoff served as Men’s Club president at Ahavath Sholom and was active in many aspects of the Fort Worth Jewish community.
To read more please click on this link: Oral History with Sam Reznikoff