Name: Mendel (Manny) Chulew (1924 – )
Birth Place: Rymanow, Poland
Arrived in Wisconsin: 1952, Kenosha
You can't go on living the rest of your life hating.
— Manny Chulew
Mendel (Manny) Chulew was born on January 5, 1924, in Rymanow, Poland. Its pre-war population was more than 90 percent Jewish. Manny was the son of a small business owner. As war approached in September 1939, Manny's family fled east into Russian-occupied Poland to escape persecution. Late in 1940, Soviet authorities shipped the Chulews' to work camps in Siberia along with over 50,000 other Polish Jewish refugees.
When the Germans attacked on Russia in June 1941, the Siberian refugees were released. The Chulew family made their way to Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, where they lived until 1946. On their return trip to Poland, Manny's mother died in Lublin. They continued their journey only to find that every Jew in their city had been killed. The family reached a displaced persons camp at Steyr, Austria, and spent nearly five years in various camps before immigrating to New York in December 1951.
Manny's uncle convinced the family to join him in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the summer of 1952. Within a month of their arrival, the family opened Chulew Furniture. In 1960 they acquired Barr Furniture, which they operated for the next several decades. Manny became a well-known member of the Kenosha business community and married Lenore Shain of Chicago in 1956. The couple had two daughters.
Audio and Transcript Information
Below are the highlights of each tape. They do not list all topics discussed. Recordings of only one tape side are marked: (no Side 2). Documents may be printed or downloaded at no cost. See Rights and Permissions
Listen to Manny's testimony and view transcript
Tape 1, Side 1
- Family background and Jewish community in Rymanow, Poland, 1920s
- Religious life and education before World War II
- Jewish sports teams and Zionist organizations
- Pioneer Polish immigrants to Haifa, Israel
Tape 1, Side 2
- Jewish refugees from Germany flee to Rymanow, late 1930s
- Outbreak of war and German occupation of Rymanow
- Family flees to Lesko and Ustryyki Dolne (Poland) and Lvov (Ukraine)
- Deciding to return to Rymanow rather than become Soviet citizens
Tape 2, Side 1
- Chulew family is forced to board train to Siberia instead of returning home
- Living conditions, religious life in Siberian labor camps
- Released in summer of 1941, Chulew family goes to Tashkent
- Flees train, ends up in Dzambul (Kazakhstan)
Tape 2, Side 2
- Polish Jewish refugees number 50,000 in Dzambul, 1941-1946
- Manny returns to Europe in the spring of 1946, learns the fate of Jews
- Deciding to leave Europe, living at displaced persons camp in Steyr (Austria)
- Social and religious life in various displaced persons camps
Tape 3, Side 1
- Employment with Jewish Distribution Committee helping refugees emigrate
- Sponsored by uncle in the U.S., Manny arrives in New York Dec 1, 1951
- Uncle helps Manny reach Kenosha, Wisconsin, in July 1952
- First years in Kenosha, marriage, and children
Tape 3, Side 2
- Chulews family life and parenting
- Jewish community in Kenosha in the 1950s and 1960s
- Manny's reaction to American Nazi demonstrations
- His thoughts on American culture and politics
Tape 4, Side 1
- Anti-Semitism in the U.S.
- Manny's visits to Israel and Poland
- Value of survivors speaking out
- Manny hopes for peace in Israel
About the Interview Process
The interview was conducted by archivist Sara Leuchter during two sessions at the Chulew home in Kenosha on October 8 and 9, 1980. The first session lasted two hours. The second session lasted one hour and five minutes.
During each session, Manny was quite apprehensive about speaking into the microphone. He was reluctant to provide any details or make any comments that he felt might jeopardize his reputation in Kenosha's Jewish community. His interview, therefore, is shorter than many others conducted by the project. It proceeds largely in chronological order.
Audio and Transcript Details
- Interview Dates: Oct 8, 1980; Oct 9, 1980
- Interview Location: Chulew home, Kenosha, Wisconsin
- Interviewer: Archivist Sara Leuchter
- Original Sound Recording Format: 4 qty. 60-minute audio cassette tapes
- Length of Interviews: 2 interviews, total approximately 3 hours
- Transcript Length: 79 pages
- Rights and Permissions: Any document may be printed or downloaded to a computer or portable device at no cost for nonprofit educational use by teachers, students and researchers. Nothing may be reproduced in any format for commercial purposes without prior permission.