After being held in several concentration camps, Edith and Marvin Kozlowski became a “giving and loving” couple, according to their daughter, Ruthie.
WEST BLOOMFIELD — What West Bloomfield resident Edith Kozlowski went through in her life would have left many broken and embittered.
She was a teenager when Nazi Germany invaded her native Poland in 1939.
Kozlowski was one of millions of victims of the Holocaust. According to her daughter, Ruthie, both her parents spent time in several concentration camps from 1939 to 1945.
Ruthie said her parents lost almost their entire family, which was Jewish, in the Holocaust.
She spoke of the horrors endured by so many during the Holocaust.
“Because of their religion, most of them were murdered and gassed. Some of them were saved to do slave labor without food – horrible conditions,” Ruthie said. “My parents were two of those people who were selected not to be cremated and gassed. They had a selection process, and they selected certain people, I guess, who seemed stronger, were children, or whatever.
Marvin and Edith Kozlowski have been married for over 70 years.
Marvin died in 2020 at the age of 100.
Edith is expected to turn 100 on September 20.
Ruthie said her parents met “maybe once or twice” before World War II, but it wasn’t until after that they started a relationship.
“They reconnected after release, developed a relationship and said they would like to get married when they come to the United States,” she said. “My father wanted to find a job so he could support a family. So they made a promise to get married by coming here.
Edith had a relative in Michigan, and she moved to the United States in 1947. Ruthie said her father was “stuck” in Poland and couldn’t get a visa for two years.
After obtaining one, he joined Edith in Michigan in 1949, and the couple became husband and wife in 1950.
Marvin and Edith lived in Detroit before moving to West Bloomfield around 1990.
Ruthie said her father worked in clothing stores, sausage factories and “all sorts of places”.
“He was a tailor by trade,” she said. “He worked for Sears as a tailor, then he opened a shop in Bloomfield Hills – a small menswear shop where he sewed from the back, then later in Birmingham when it went out of business. And my mom worked with him in the store making sales while he was in the back sewing.
Despite the atrocities of the Holocaust and all they’ve been through, Ruthie called her parents “giving and loving.”
“My parents went through unfathomable terror and tragedy. It’s mind-boggling to all of us who know them – not just their family, but everyone they’ve known in their lifetime can’t believe how loving they were. , positive and generous,” Ruthie said. “They weren’t filled with bitterness. They were filled with gratitude. … It was their mission to spread kindness and love.
The time her parents spent in the concentration camps is not something Ruthie heard much about as a child.
“They didn’t like to talk about it. I guess it’s quite common, that they don’t want to share such horrible stories with their children; and also, I’m sure it was painful to relive,” Ruthie said.
Eventually, one of Marvin’s grandchildren, Rachel, convinced him to write a book, which was self-published, detailing some of his experiences during the Holocaust.
Ruthie said her parents were also interviewed for a project by filmmaker Steven Spielberg several years ago for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, located in Washington, DC.
Ruthie discussed part of the message her parents shared during the interview.
“We should all love each other, despite our differences – race, religion, creed, whatever – and be kind to each other,” she said.
Ruthie has two brothers, Jay and Joe. She said Marvin and Edith had six grandchildren – Ben, Max, Julia, Rachel, Anna and David – and two great-grandchildren, Elliot and Sloane.
Edith’s daughters-in-law are Renee and Jill, as well as Linda, who died over 25 years ago.
Edith is currently living in her own home with her nurse, who has also cared for Marvin, helping to care for her. Family members also stay home with Edith.
Ruthie shared how she was doing.
“His heart is broken. She lost half her life,” Ruthie said. ” She is fine. It was very difficult for her without my father.
The kind of marriage her parents had is something that caught Ruthie’s attention.
“My parents had a very romantic wedding,” she said. “They had incredible respect and love for each other. … I’ve never seen that in my life. It’s pretty crazy.
With her birthday so close, Edith described some of the emotions she felt.
“Really happy and sad, because I lost my husband,” she said. “How many couples have lived together for 70 years? The joy and love I had with my husband of 72 years is indescribable, and I wish the same to everyone.
Ruthie has fond memories of her father.
“He got us all into graduate school,” she said. “I don’t know how he did it. He was just a regular working guy. … They never had much money, but he did everything he could to give us a happy childhood and take care of all of us and my mother.
Ruthie said her mother, who is currently not physically active, is a social person who loves to cook and is “always trying to do things to take care of people”.
His attributes were noticed by more than family members.
“Everyone wanted to be adopted by my parents,” Ruthie said. “It’s like a joke – my mom could go out somewhere, like to a restaurant, to the doctor, wherever she is, and she would make like 20 friends.”
Ruthie spent time reflecting on a couple who served as both parents and friends in her life.
“You’ll never meet someone who was more caring, giving and reaching out more than my mom, and (that’s) also how my dad was, too,” she said. “Anyone who knows them will know exactly what I’m talking about. You couldn’t meet more loving people.
Edith said her family wanted to make “all a fuss” for her birthday, but they are not looking for an extravagant celebration.
“Things are going well for the family; just to be with my loved ones,” she said.
Just being with their loved ones is also great business for Edith’s family.
“All of us, children and grandchildren, think my mom and dad have been the greatest blessings to us,” Ruthie said. “When people came into our lives, like spouses, friends and other people, they were like, ‘I never had that; I’ve never had (this) kind of love in my life. So I guess we were pretty blessed.