Michael Mark is a man of few words who works with his hands.
So when it came time to unburden himself of the memories he had kept to himself, he let his hands start the conversation.
Mark, 83, was born Mischka Margierowicz. He came from the city of Brody in what is now the Ukraine.
His children, Anne Benzachar of Fair Lawn and Benjamin Mark of Long Branch, like many children of survivors, didn’t hear his stories growing up or even later. Not until shortly before their mother’s death in 2008 did they convince her to tell her story to her children and grandchildren.
On a recent Sunday morning, Michael Mark sat at his kitchen table with his daughter Ann Benzachar and a reporter from the Jewish Standard and talked about his life as a teenager after the Nazis had conquered his town from the Soviets. He and his father, Benjamin, a sheet metal worker, lived in the Brody ghetto with special privileges that allowed them to come and go. His older brother was shot by the Ukrainians and his mother and sister had disappeared. As a talented craftsman, Benjamin was in charge of turning railway cars into mobile kitchens for the Germans and Michael was his apprentice.