After being held in multiple concentration camps, Edith and Marvin Kozlowski became a “giving and loving” couple, according to their daughter, Ruthie.

After being held in multiple concentration camps, Edith and Marvin Kozlowski became a “giving and loving” couple, according to their daughter, Ruthie.

Photo provided by Ruthie Kozlowski

Woman reflects on love her parents have spread, despite enduring multiple concentration camps

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 5, 2022


WEST BLOOMFIELD — What West Bloomfield resident Edith Kozlowski has experienced in her life would have left many people broken and embittered.

She was a teenager when Nazi Germany invaded her native country of Poland in 1939.

Kozlowski was one of the millions of victims of the Holocaust. According to her daughter, Ruthie, both of her parents spent time at multiple concentration camps from 1939-1945.

Ruthie said that her parents lost nearly their entire family, who were Jewish, during the Holocaust.

She discussed the horrors that were 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 eating — horrible conditions,” Ruthie said. “My parents were two of those people who were selected not to get cremated and gassed. They had a selection process, and they selected certain people, I guess, that looked stronger, were kids, or whatever.”

Marvin and Edith Kozlowski were married for more than 70 years.

Marvin died in 2020 at the age of 100.

Edith is set to turn 100 on Sept. 20.

Ruthie said her parents met “maybe once or twice” prior to World War II, but it wasn’t until afterward that they began a relationship.

“They reconnected after the liberation, developed a relationship and said they would like to get married when they came to the States,” she said. “My dad wanted to get a job to be able to support a family. So they made themselves a promise that they would get married when they came here.”

Edith had a relative in Michigan, and she moved to the United States in 1947. Ruthie said her dad 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 dad worked at clothing stores, sausage factories and “all kinds of places.”

“He was a tailor by trade,” she said. “He worked for Sears as a tailor, and then he opened up a shop in Bloomfield Hills — a small men’s clothing shop where he tailored in the back, and then later on in Birmingham when that went out of business. And my mom was working with him in the store doing sales while he was in the back doing tailoring.”

Despite the atrocities of the Holocaust and all that they went through, Ruthie referred to her parents as “giving and loving” people.

“My parents went through an unfathomable terror and tragedy. It’s mind-blowing to all of us who know them — not only their family, but everyone they have known in their lives cannot believe how loving, positive and giving (they have been),” Ruthie said. “They were not filled with bitterness. They were filled with gratitude. … It was their mission to spread kindness and love.”

The time her parents spent in concentration camps is not something Ruthie heard much about as a child.

“They did not like to talk about it. I guess that’s kind of common, that they don’t want to share such horrific stories with their children; and also, I’m sure that it was painful to relive,” Ruthie said.

Eventually, one of Marvin’s grandchildren, Rachel, convinced him to write a book, which has been self-published, detailing some of what he went through during the Holocaust.

Ruthie said that her parents were also interviewed as part of a project by filmmaker Steven Spielberg several years ago for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which is located in Washington, D.C.

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 good to one another,” she said.

Ruthie has two brothers, Jay and Joe. She said that Marvin and Edith have 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 more than 25 years ago.

Edith currently lives in her own home with her nurse, who also looked after Marvin, helping to care for her. Family members also stay in the home with Edith.

Ruthie shared how she is doing.

“Her heart’s broken. She lost like half of her life,” Ruthie said. “She’s doing OK. It’s been very difficult for her without my father.”

The kind of marriage that her parents had is something that has captured Ruthie’s attention.

“My parents had a very storybook marriage,” she said. “They had unbelievable respect and love for each other. … I’ve never seen it in my lifetime. It’s pretty crazy.”

With her birthday being so close, Edith described some of the emotions she has been feeling.

“Really happy, and sad, because I lost my husband,” she said. “How many couples are around for 70-some years together? The joy and love I had with my husband of 72 years is indescribable, and I wish the same for everyone.”

Ruthie has fond recollections of her dad.

“He put us all through 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 whatever he could to give us a happy childhood and to take care of all of us and my mom.”

Ruthie said that her mom, who is not currently active physically, is a social person who loves baking and is “always trying to do things to take care of people.”

Her attributes have been noticed by more than just family members.

“Everybody wanted to be adopted by my parents,” Ruthie said. “There’s like, a joke — my mom could go out somewhere, like to a restaurant, doctor’s office, wherever she was, and she would make, like, 20 friends.”

Ruthie has spent some time reflecting on a couple who have played the role of both parents and friends in her life.

“You’ll never meet anybody who was more caring, giving and extending of themselves 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 that her family wanted to make a “big deal” about her birthday, but she isn’t seeking an extravagant celebration.

“Just the family’s fine; just to be with my loved ones,” she said.

Just to be with their loved ones is also a pretty good deal for Edith’s family.

“All of us kids and grandkids feel that my mom and dad were the hugest blessings to us,” Ruthie said. “When people would come into our lives, like spouses, friends and other people, they would be like, ‘I never had this; I never had (this) kind of love in my life.’ So I guess we were pretty blessed.”