The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program

Michael Mason

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Born
September 14, 1928 Beregszász, Czechoslovakia

Map of Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia

Immigrated
1948 Toronto, Ontario

When Germany occupied Hungary in 1944, fifteen-year-old Miklos Friedman drew on his wits to survive. Recruited into forced labour, sent to a ghetto and, ultimately, to the Nazi camps of Auschwitz and Mühldorf, Miklos never stopped fighting to change his fate. After the war, he risked everything in order to leave his past behind. Decades later, a chance meeting in Toronto led Miklos, now Michael Mason, to discover the power of his new name.

About Michael

Michael Mason was born as Miklos Friedman in Beregszász, Czechoslovakia, in 1928. In 1948, to immigrate to Canada, he took on the identity of Miklos Moskovits, later changing his name to Michael Mason in response to antisemitic hiring practices. In Canada, Michael worked in a variety of businesses before becoming a denturist in 1973. Michael Mason lives in Toronto.

Photos and Artifacts

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    Adolf Friedman, Michael’s paternal grandfather. Date unknown.

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    Esther Friedman, Michael’s paternal grandmother. Date unknown.

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    Michael’s parents, Gisel (née Weisz) and Ferencz Friedman. Beregszász, Ukraine, circa 1923.

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    The Friedman family before the war. Left to right: Michael’s older brother, Laci; his mother, Gisel; his sister, Magda; his father, Ferencz; and Michael. In front: Michael’s younger brother, Fredi. Sátoraljaújhely, Hungary, circa 1936.

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    Michael and his friends – the “five twins” – in Budapest. Standing: Misi (left); Szusz (centre); and Bandi (right). Seated: Michael (left) and Pista (right). Margit Island, mid-1940s

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    Michael with his family after the war. Left to right: Fredi, Gisel, Magda, Ferencz, Michael. In front: Michael’s youngest brother, George. Budapest, 1947.

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    Michael and his brother Fredi in Paris before immigrating to Canada. Back row, left to right: Michael’s friend Zoltan Freeman and Zoltan’s brothers Hershu and Shiyu. Seated, left to right: Michael, Fredi and Zoltan’s nephew Emil Black. Paris, December 1948.

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    Michael’s parents, Gisel and Ferencz, and his brother George on their first day in Canada. Toronto, 1951.

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    Michael with new friends in early 1950s Hamilton. Left to right: Robert Barany, Emil Black, name unknown, Michael, and Dugyu Sternberg. In back: Jack Rosen.

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    Michael, Fredi and Robert. Hamilton, circa 1952.

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    Michael and his father, 1953.

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    Michael and Ruth (Ricky) on their wedding day. July 1954.

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    Michael with his sister, Magda, and mother, Gisel. Hamilton, early 1950s.

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    Michael's mother, Gisel, with her grandchild Robin. May 1956.

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    Michael with his wife, Ruth (Ricky), and Ricky’s mother, Ray Rosenbaum. Toronto, 1957.

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    Michael's mother, Gisel Friedman, circa 1960.

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    Michael's father, Ferencz Friedman, circa 1960.

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    Michael and Ricky’s children. In back, Robin and Andrew; in front, Tov and Roseanne. Toronto, circa 1970.

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    Michael and Ricky’s children. Left to right: Andrew, Roseanne, Robin and Tov. Late 1970s.

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    Michael and his son Andrew. Early 1980s.

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    Michael's son Andrew the day before he died. Kathmandu, Nepal, September 1983.

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    The Serious Head Injury Ward in Bir Hospital. The plaque honouring Michael's son Andrew is to the right of the doorway. Kathmandu, Nepal.

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    Close-up of plaque honouring Michael's son Andrew at Bir Hospital. Kathmandu, Nepal.

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    Michael in his denture clinic. November 1983.

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    Wedding of Michael and Doreen. March 7, 1987.

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    The Yad Vashem certificate recognizing Michael’s grandson Jacob Wagner for twinning with Miklos Moskovits on the occasion of his bar mitzvah. Toronto, April 2011.

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    Michael holding the soapstone sculpture he made representing “NevMichael holding the soapstone sculpture he made representing “Never Again.”er Again.”

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    A variety of the soapstone images Michael has sculpted over the years.

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    Michael’s miniature sculptures from gold.

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    Michael and his wife, Doreen, (far right) with Michael’s sister, Magda, and brother Fredi. Chanukah, December 2014.

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    The extended Mason and Ray families celebrating Chanukah, 2014. Back row, left to right: son-in-law Robert; Doreen’s daughter, Cheryl; granddaughter Sophie; daughter-in-law Lisa; grandson Adam; Michael’s son, Tov; granddaughter Ruby; Michael’s brother Fredi; grand- daughter Zoe; son-in-law Mark; Michael’s daughter Roseanne; granddaughter Sarah Rachel; granddaughter Danielle; son-in-law Frank; Danielle’s boyfriend, Kevin; and daughter-in-law Marian. Middle row, left to right: Doreen; granddaughter Selma; Michael; Michael’s sister, Magda; and Michael’s daughter Robin. Front row, left to right: granddaughter Emily; grandson Henry; Doreen’s son, Joel; grandson Cy; grandson Jacob; grandson Av; and grandson Andrew.

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    Michael and his wife, Doreen, celebrating Michael’s eightieth birthday.

The Book

Cover of A Name Unbroken

A Name Unbroken

I felt reborn, until I looked in the mirror and could not recognize myself. I was skin and bones. The person who looked back at me in the mirror was a scared-looking, skinny little boy, not the person I thought I was.

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A Name Unbroken

Three Weeks

It was night and the place was lit up with floodlights. I saw German SS troops with machine guns and dogs. We were ordered out of the boxcars without our luggage. It was a cold but clear night and the scene surrounding me was unbelievable. SS soldiers were running with German shepherd dogs, yelling and occasionally shooting at people. The night was filled with thousands of people in total panic. We were ordered to line up five abreast at the side of the boxcars. Some people in grey-and-blue striped clothing appeared. They looked like prisoners and began to remove the dead bodies and baggage from the boxcars. I stood in line by an open car door and one of these men asked me quietly if I spoke Yiddish. When I answered him, he whispered to that I should try to get out of here because our people were being killed. He said I should say I was eighteen years old. As the line moved forward, several people were shot because they stepped out of line or because they were trying to join the rest of their family, from whom they had been abruptly separated. The line slowly moved forward. I found myself in front of a table with two men behind it. One of them asked my name, my age and my occupation. I replied that I was eighteen years old and a farmer. He pointed to my right.

I looked around me and did not see a single person I knew. A panic took hold of me – here I was, alone, in a killing place, unable to do anything about it. I was crying to myself, Why was I here? What had I done to deserve this?