Howard Kaidanow was born in 1929 in Łódź, Poland to Elliot and Sarah Frieda Kaidanow. Older than his brother by three years, Kaidanow spent his childhood traveling back and forth between Poland and Dokshytsy, Belarus, where his grandparents lived so he could pursue a Jewish education. The family relocated to Krivichi shortly after the USSR invaded their hometown in 1939, and lived there until the Nazis forcefully took over in 1941, enacting severe restrictions against the Jewish people. The “Einszatzengruppen,” or Mobile Killing Squads, frequently rounded up and shot Jews in surrounding towns. Both Kaidanow’s mother and father were killed on the same day in 1942, when Kaidanow was thirteen. He and his brother narrowly escaped the squads by hiding under hay in the barn for a few days before joining their relatives in Kurenec. They spent the remaining years of the war in hiding while Kaidanow served as a messenger and spy for the Partisan movement. He was in Belarus when the Soviets liberated the region in 1944. After the war ended, Kaidanow traveled throughout Eastern Europe studying and working for various jobs before he joined his brother in the United States in 1954. He met his to-be wife, Esther—also a Holocaust survivor—in 1959 while on a blind date. The two married in 1961.
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