Beniamin Zylberberg

This is me at age 10. The photo was taken in Krasnik in 1926.

My official name is Boleslaw Janowski, but I was born Beniamin Chaim Zylberberg on 19th February 1916 in Krasnik, Lubelski. I changed my name after the war to make my life in a non-Jewish society easier. 

My earliest memories go back to 1920, when during the Polish-Bolshevik War the Bolsheviks came almost into Krasnik. The people in our town made themselves all kinds of shelters. In our house we made our attic into a shelter. I remember waiting in the attic with my family for the front to pass. 

I know Yiddish not from cheder but because we spoke Yiddish at home. When I was 16 or 17 I read an awful lot in that language. And I started to read when I was about eight or ten, with the Yiddish classics: Mendele Mokher Seforim, Sholem Aleichem, and Isaac Leib Peretz. To this day I read and have a lot of books in Yiddish at home. It was thanks to elementary school, where I started going in 1924-25, that I learned some Polish. \

I completed seven grades of elementary school. Already at age nine or ten I started working at my father's workshop. He was a poor Jew and couldn't afford to pay any assistants. So when I started work in the workshop, Mr. Pytlakowski agreed that I could attend evening classes at the elementary school. So in the mornings I worked in the workshop, and in the evenings I studied. I went to school until March 1935, with two short breaks.