Felix Kestenberg was born on August 24, 1921 in Radom, Poland to Samuel and Tauba Kestenberg as the youngest of four children. Kestenberg was eighteen years old when armed forces of Nazi Germany captured Radom in 1939, carrying out executions and imposing severe restrictions upon the Jewish community. The following year, Kestenberg was taken to a forced labor camp, where German officials ordered him to help construct a defensive wall surrounding the border with Russia. He was then transferred to Majdanek, located on the outskirts of Lublin. Kestenberg was later sent to Sakoomomstrit and Blizyn before arriving at Birkenau, a subcamp of Auschwitz, in 1944, where German troops tattooed “B-2369” on his left arm—a mark he carried for the rest of his life. Kestenberg endured malnutrition, although his most vivid memories of the concentration camp were the selection process and constant odor of burning flesh. In early 1945, as Russian forces advanced toward Auschwitz, Kestenberg and other prisoners undertook the Death March as per the German officials’ order. They arrived at a railhead fourteen hours later and were transported to Dachau and later Waldlager. A few months later, German troops planned to take Kestenberg and other prisoners to the Alps to carry out a mass execution, but were thwarted by American forces. After liberation, Kestenberg was taken to a displaced persons camp in Feldafing, Germany, weighing only seventy-five pounds. He emigrated to the United States in 1949 and later married Vera Salazar, also a Holocaust survivor. Kestenberg passed away in 2008.
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