How St. Louisan Murry Cymber survived 7 concentration camps before meeting his wife


The following story is part of the Oral Histories Project, at the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum. It was told by Toby Cymber Gutterman in memory of her beloved husband, Murry Cymber. Murray passed away in 1973 and didn’t live to do it himself, to tell his story.

Murry Cymber was born on May 26, 1924 in Czestochowa, Poland. His mother died when he was two years old, and from then on he lived with his father, step-mother, brother, and sister.

When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, Murry, age 15, and his older brother, Carl, were taken for slave labor in Czestochowa; they loaded coal and also worked in a metal factory.

In 1941, Murry was deported to Majdanek, near Lublin, Poland. For his first several weeks, he was helping out the carpenters. Then he was transferred to a place where they put dead bodies in a massive grave and burned it. The following day, Murray would cover the grave with dirt. Evidently, the Germans were trying to cover up their tracks after they were finished. Murry knew that they wouldn’t leave any witnesses, so he decided right away to escape. The Germans were shooting after him, but he was able to escape into the woods.

Unfortunately, Murry was soon captured once again and sent to the camp of Plaszow. He was later transported to Gross-Rosen, Barackenbau – where the number 56811 was tattooed on his arm, and Buchenwald – where he was once again forced to do slave labor, and finally the camp of Taucha, where he was liberated by the United States Army in May 1945.

After liberation, Murry returned to Poland, where he was reunited with his sister and her husband, his brother, and his brother’s fiance. He also met Toby Bronner at this time, along with some other people. He helped them cross the border into Germany, where they lived in a D.P. camp, tried to earn money, and learned English.

Murry and Toby got married, and had their first child in 1948, a daughter, Ruth. With the help of family in New York, they were able to come to the United States. They later settled in St. Louis and had two more children, Dorothy and John. Murry worked as a cabinet maker to support the family. Murry Cymber passed away on October 29, 1973.

Listen to Tape 1 / Side 1 of Murray’s Oral History


Click here to listen to the additional taped recordings of Murray’s Oral History

Discover more stories

To view the full St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum Oral Histories archive, click here.