Tuvia’s life was full of changes and difficulties, along with joys and rebirth, symbolizing a very significant chapter in the history of our family, and our nation. We have decided to share with you some of the fascinating episodes of life, and we hope that in this way you will become more familiar with the person who symbolizes so much to us, and join us in fulfilling his most important will – preserving the memory.
Tuvia Bezalel Klein was born on January 27, 1924, in the town of Munkács, Czechoslovakia, to a wealthy Haredi family of seven. His father, Yehoshua, was a very successful textile merchant, who owned several shops and commercial houses. It can be assumed that he inherited the developed business sense and entrepreneurship, which characterized him in his later life.
His childhood was comfortable and wealthy, culturally rich, full of learning and curiosity, in the pastoral green landscape of the mountains around Munkács and the Latorica River flowing through the town. He was a member of the Bnei Akiva movement in the town, where he studied Hebrew history, sang Hebrew songs and discussed Zionism, all hidden from his father, who firmly opposed it. When he was 20, the Germans broke into the town, and soon all the Jews were concentrated in the ghetto. A group of Jewish youths, including Tuvia, were taken from the ghetto to humiliating work in a pig farm. As ultra-Orthodox Jews, they had no idea how to do the job. But with bribes, the boys managed to cover up their mistakes. One day Tuvia received notice of his grandfather’s death and that his funeral would take place the next day. Due to his great respect for his grandfather, and despite the risk of life, Tuvia fled the pig farm into the ghetto, to accompany his grandfather on his last journey. This was the last time he saw his parents and brother, Zvi, who were taken to Auschwitz a few days later and murdered there.
From the pig farm he was transferred to Auschwitz and from there to the construction of a small and terrible camp called Dora. During the period in which he was held in Dora, he was forced to perform very difficult physical tasks, such as digging subterranean tunnels for German missiles and carrying entire prefabricated walls to build camp barracks, while he is in poor physical condition. Over the years he told numerous stories about that period, when he displayed incredible courage and incredible originality, to save himself, time after time, from the claws of death. From the Dora camp he was transferred to Bergen-Belsen, until the liberation of the camp by Allied forces.
After the liberation he was transferred to Sweden with many Jews, where he was given medical treatment, food, a place of residence, and, most important, humane treatment. In Sweden, he met Olga, also from Munkacs, whom he remembered from his childhood. In 1948 they immigrated to Israel and in 1949 they married and began their life together in Ramat Gan, where they had two children: Zvi and Pnina.
When he arrived in Israel, Tuvia began working as a production worker in the Hamat factory for faucets, which belonged to the worker’s union and “Koor”. With his usual diligence, he studied engineering in evening studies, parallel to his work. As time went by, he became the CEO of Hamat, and later a manager of one of “Koor” divisions. After his retirement, he worked tirelessly as a volunteer in the Pensioners’ Organization and in the organization of immigrants from Carpatho-Rus.
Words are not enough to describe what Tuvia had experienced in his life, and his special character. For us he was and will remain a symbol of stubbornness, diligence, curiosity, courage and great wisdom. His story is engraved in our hearts and passed from generation to generation in the family.