Genrykh Zinger began a tailor apprenticeship at the age of 14 in his hometown Velykyi Bereznyi, then in Czechoslovakia. His father worked as tombstone carver, glazier and frame builder. He was drafted into the Czechoslovak army in 1936 and served for three years. During World War II, he was a forced laborer for the Hungarian army from 1940 to 1943. After the Red Army defeated the Hungarian army, Zinger was captured along with other POWs and sent to a gulag in Voronezh, Russia, where he worked as tailor. He returned to his hometown in 1946, but joined his sister in Uzhhorod soon after.

Other Interviews:

From Hungarian to Russian Forced Labor
Communal Matzo Baking

Carving Tombstones

Uzhhorod, Ukraine

Genrykh Zinger remembers fondly in his clip, how his father took him out the to large Jewish cemetery of Velykyi Bereznyi. Throughout his childhood, Genrykh assisted his father, who was a skilled artisan in the shtetl. Carving tombstones was more on the creative side, along with making klezmer music, among the Jewish professions in prewar Ukraine. Typical Jewish occupations included merchants, glaziers and tailors. The more artistic professions were often accompanied with a less stable income. Genrykh's father, accordingly, worked as frame builder and glazier during the winter.