When David Lenga shares his story, he tells his audience that “if you see evil lifting its ugly hand, do something. You could be the next victim.”
David was born in 1927 in Lodz, Poland. Lodz was home to the second largest Jewish community in Poland, making up 30% of the city’s population. His father owned a tannery in the nearby city of Styrkow. Soon after Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland in 1939, David and his family were relocated to Strykow, where they lived in a ghetto for the first two years of the war. In 1942, the Nazi authorities deported large groups of Jews from Strykow. David’s father was sent to a labor camp, while he, his mother and brother were sent to the larger Lodz Ghetto. Eventually, his mother and brother were deported. The emotional toll this took on him was so great that he contemplated suicide. Life in the Lodz Ghetto was horrific and people were only kept alive if they were strong enough to preform slave labor, as the Lodz Ghetto was economically profitable to Nazi Germany. David remained in the Lodz Ghetto until its final liquidation in August 1944. After trying to hide in the remnants of the Ghetto for as long as possible, he was sent to Auschwitz. From Auschwitz, he was transferred to Bavaria where he labored in the Kaufering Concentration Camp complex. In an effort to flee advancing American forces, the Nazi authorities evacuated David and other inmates on a train through the forest. Unaware that there were prisoners, American planes bombed the trains, which killed many of the inmates. David escaped from the train and hid throughout Southern Germany until they were liberated by American troops in May 1945. He soon made his way to Sweden where he married Charlotte Katz, a Survivor from Czechoslovakia. A few years after the war, he discovered that his father had survived. David eventually settled in Los Angeles where he and his wife raised four children.