Age: 94 ½
Birthdate: December 1, 1920
Birthplace: Horodok, Poland (now Belarus)
Religious Identity: Jewish
“We were in a village, and I was walking near a house or a structure with my weapon, I got to the corner and there was a German soldier. We stopped and looked at each other and turned away.”
Moshe Baran was born in 1920 in Eastern Poland (now Belarus) in a shtetl called Horodok. He came from a family of six, himself, his parents, a brother, and twin sisters. The town had about 300 Jewish families living there making up roughly 90% of the population. On September 1, 1939, Poland was attacked by Germany, and on September 17, the Soviet Union invaded Moshes part of Poland. Life as they knew it had vanished. The Soviet Union enforced communism and took control of the town. In June, 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union and within five days they were in Horodok. The seclusion began immediately, posting notices and enforcing restrictions on Jewish life in an attempt to break them down psychologically. Eventually the towns 300 families were forced into a ghetto, living in about 15 or 20 homes, completely sealed off from the outside world. Moshe took advantage of a job he was assigned, working on the railroads, and stole weapons that the Germans were collecting from the retreating Russian army. These weapons allowed him to escape and join the Russian resistance, which in return helped him to save part of his family. After liberation, Moshe was drafted into the Russian army, but they were demobilized after one year. He left Russia with his family and they were placed in a displaced persons camp in Austria. This was where he met his late wife, Malka. They came to the United States together in 1950, and married in 1952. They have two daughters, and six grandchildren. Moshe and Malka came to join their daughter in Pittsburgh in 1993, after moving here they became very involved in the vibrant Jewish community in Pittsburgh and began speaking at schools to share their experiences. They made it their life mission to teach all people around them not to “hate” as hate is just the beginning.
“Language can heal, and language can kill. Do not be complacent.”
Click here to read his full testimony.