Sam and Regina were born in Poland, she in Warsaw, and he in the town of Slawatycze. They met in the 1930s when Sam went to Warsaw seeking work after serving earlier apprenticeships and being imprisoned and tortured for his political beliefs. The couple married on June 15, 1939—just two and a half months before Germany invaded Poland. Surviving the chaos and bombing, Sam heeded the call of the Polish government for men to move east. He reached Bialystok, which soon fell under Russian control. Regina made the perilous trek through Nazi-held territory to join him.
When the Russians declared that the Polish middle classes were enemies of the state, Sam and Regina were rounded up and transported in cattle cars thousands of miles to Siberia. There they were imprisoned in a labor camp and worked as slaves, felling and shipping trees. They transferred to a different camp, where Sam had to go down into mines that lacked oxygen and contained potentially explosive gases.
When Germany declared war on Russia, the Soviets reversed their policy, converting Poles from enemies to friends in an instant. With thousands of others, Sam and Regina wound up in Samarqand, Uzbekistan. Living conditions were better, but once again Sam was imprisoned, this time for black marketeering, only to be released with Regina's help.
At the end of the war, the couple went back west. Most of their family members were gone, but Regina managed to reunite with her sister Edith, who had changed her name to Maria when she acquired false papers as an Aryan. After a short stay in a DP camp, Sam, Regina, and Maria moved to Vienna, where Sam and Regina's first son, Leonard, was born. By 1948 the couple was able to immigrate to Charleston, where they began a new life.