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A Holocaust survivor honors the woman who saved his life

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

Time now for StoryCorps. In 1941, Rabbi Philip Lazowski and his family were among the Jews banished from their village in Poland by the Nazis and forced to live in a ghetto. Philip got separated from his family. He was just 11 years old. Philip saw the Nazis sending children and the elderly to their deaths, but he noticed they were sparing families with adults who worked, like doctors, tailors and cobblers. Philip, who's now 91, came to StoryCorps with his wife, Ruth, to remember a quick decision that saved his life.

PHILIP LAZOWSKI: I saw a woman standing with two girls and she was a nurse, so I went over to her and I asked her, would you be kind enough to take me as your son? She said, if they let me live with two children, maybe they'll let me live with three. Hold on to my dress. We survived, and even though I saw her only for 15, 20 minutes, I never forgot her face. I was able to come to United States in 1947. I was 17 years old.

RUTH LAZOWSKI: Can you describe life after that?

P LAZOWSKI: Years later, a fellow got married, and I didn't want to go to the wedding. I didn't have fancy clothes. Also I don't dance, but I went. And sitting at the table, I said, I come from the town of Belzyce (ph). A lady was sitting next to me. She says, you know, a girlfriend told me a story. They saved the boy from Belzyce. and we don't know if he's alive. When she finished telling me the story, I realized that I am the boy. I says, where do they live? And I called the lady that saved me. She picked up and I promised to come to visit her. While there, I noticed the two girls. They were 18, 19 years old and grown up.

R LAZOWSKI: (Laughter) That was me. I was the other girl.

P LAZOWSKI: (Laughter) Yes. Your mother saved my life. I then married you, and that's how our family began. We have been together as husband and wife for 66 years. We had three children, seven grandchildren. So all in all, I am very thankful to be alive. God was good to us.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ELLIOTT: That was 91 year old Rabbi Philip Lazowski and his wife, 86-year-old Ruth Lazowski, in West Hartford, Conn. This interview will be archived at the Library of Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.