נחמן נולד בעיירה אוסטרוב מאז, בפולין באחד בפברואר שנת 1921. לאחר מלחמת העולם השנייה עלה לארץ ישראל מגרמניה בשנת 1948. הוא התגייס לפלמ"ח ב-22 באוגוסט שנת 1948. במהלך החודש היה בבסיס הקליטה והחיול. בחודש ספטמבר 1948, הצטרף כלוחם לגדוד השביעי של חטיבת הנגב. הוא שרת בפלוגה א' של הגדוד. מספרו האישי היה: 54642.
עם סיום הקרבות השתחרר נחמן מהשרות הצבאי.
בשנת 1957 החליט להצטרף לאמו ולמשפחתו אשר התגוררו באותה עת בארצות הברית. נחמן גולדווסר היה איש עבודה כול ימי חייו. הוא מתגורר בארצות הברית.
פרטי חיים מפורטים באנגלית מפיו של הבן הוארד:
Background Information for Nachman (Norman) Goldwasser, written by his son, Howard Goldwasser:
My father was born on February 1, 1921 in Ostrow Mazowiecka, Poland, a town that, more or less, sits halfway between Warsaw to the west and Bialystock to the east. He was the eldest of three sons; he had two older sisters and one younger sister. His father was Herschel Goldwasser, a dry goods merchant who owned a dry goods store in the center of the town, where the family also lived; his mother was Lecha (Modrykamien) Goldwasser. His father passed away in the early 1930s from cancer, and, after that, but before the onset of World War II, his mother and his eldest sister emigrated to the United States, where they settled in New York, leaving my father, his two brothers, and his other two sisters in the care of his grandparents and aunts and uncles.
My father's childhood was very colorful. His mother was a traditional orthodox woman, who was quite religious, but did not live within an orthodox community. His father was also observant, but, by all accounts, open to secular ways, and he seems to have flirted a little bit with the Bundist labor movement and socialist ideas. He shaved his beard, donned a "cap," rather than a yarmulke or a more traditional hat, and seems to have been open to a more "modern," assimilated life. My grandfather certainly inspired my father to question and challenge traditional religious belief and to identify himself as a "working man" - something that, at 94, he still does today; as a cultural, rather than a religious, Jew; and in the post-war years, as a secular, socialist Zionist.
In November of 1939, the Nazis took Ostrow Mazowiecka (when my father was 17), and his life was thrown into turmoil. (At the time, his mother and eldest sister were well-settled into the United States.) Shortly after the Nazis arrival, they committed their first massacre of Ostrow Mazowiecka's Jews. My father survived it (by, literally, "playing dead" among the corpses), and the next day he, his brother Yosef, his elder sister Libby, and their grandmother fled east toward Russia. His youngest brother, Shlomo, and his youngest sister, Rachel, who were still children, remained behind with relatives who lived on farms outside of town, and they were never heard from again. It is assumed that they perished in the Holocaust, but my father - and I - still maintain hope that we will one day discover that that was not what happened to them, and that they survived and lived - or still live - lives unknown to us.
My father, his two siblings and their grandmother made it across the "new" Russian border, where they were quickly apprehended by the Russians and sent to a labor (timber/logging) camp near Archangelsk in the north, not far from Finland. There, my father and his remaining family were worked hard but - it seems -- sheltered from the worst fury of the worst parts of the war's eastern front. Frankly, their detention - as difficult as it was -- probably saved their lives. At some point later in the war, they were able to leave the camp (I am assuming that coincided with the beginning of the advance of the Red Army westward against the Germans, but I am not sure). However, by that time, their world was utterly decimated, and nothing remained of the life that they once knew. My great grandmother past away before the end of the war somewhere in the Soviet Union, and my father and his two siblings, after returning to Poland, ended up spending time in a DP camp in Germany. As I understand it, it was there that they were approached and encouraged by Zionists to emigrate to Palestine and, before that, to be trained to fight for Israel in southern France.
From the DP camp, my father and his siblings went (were taken?) to southern France. According to my father, they settled for a time in a small town not far from Marseilles, and from there they embarked for Haifa upon the ship Campidoglio in the earlier part 1948. Upon arrival outside of the port of Haifa, they were met by, presumably, the Palyam, and brought to shore.
Shortly thereafter, my father and his brother were whisked into service in the Palmach, where they both served under Yitzak Rabin as their commander throughout the Negev campaign of 1948. My father tells stories of having lost many friends - European "survivors" like him - in battle, and he weeps every time he recalls those friends. (He also tells stories of requesting special treatment from his officers for his younger brother, Yosef, to minimize the risk that they would both be killed in battle. At least on one occasion, that special treatment was granted, and Yosef remained behind while my father and others were sent into battle. )
To be honest, my father sometimes expresses anger toward what he - rightly or wrongly - perceives to have been the "Sabra" leadership's willingness to put him and his emigrant friends at risk, before other "Sabras." The war in Europe - understandably - left him quite scarred emotionally, with feelings that his life and the lives of other European immigrants like him were not equally valued - even in Israel, even among his fellow Jews. My father has always been and remains a man of strong opinions. He is a survivor in the most essential sense of the word, but he is also someone, deep down, who feels as if life has not treated him and his cohort fairly. With a mix of humor and a tinge of anger, he tells a story (often!) of playing chess with a fellow soldier in 1948 while they were encamped in the Negev. According to my father, Yitzak Rabin, along with others, watched the game. My father won, and, when the game ended, Rabin slapped my father on the back and said something like, "Nice game, but we should never make YOU an officer!" When my father asked why, Rabin replied, "Because you're too willing to sacrifice your pawns." Always quick to make a barbed joke (and with a smile on his father), my father replied, "And how is that any different from what you do with us?"
On or around Yom Kippur 1948, my father was wounded in battle. He was hit with shrapnel in his back, and he was sent to Tel Aviv to recover. My father still had scars from the wound in the 1970s and 1980s. He may still have them now. After his recovery, he returned to his unit.
When the Palmach was disbanded, my father did not remain in the military. From there on, his life in Israel was unremarkable, and full of the struggle simply to make ends meet and to live "normally" as an adult civilian for the first time ever. According to my father, his first home as a civilian was an illegal (?) squat
in an abandoned Arab house in Jaffa. When my father then got his first civilian job, assembling refrigeration equipment at Amcor, he and his brother moved to a small basement apartment in Tel Aviv on Rehov Hebron, near Trumpeldor. They remained there for about ten years, and, all the while, my father kept his factory job. He did not enjoy his work (it was simply a paycheck to him), but he loved his life - that of a single man with friends and a sufficient number "special" friends of the opposite sex -- in the cafes and on the beaches of Tel Aviv. He remembers those days with a sparkle in his eye and fondly. Throughout those years, while he lived in Tel Aviv, his mother and eldest sister - who had married, started a family, and opened up a dry-cleaning business in New York - begged him, in letter after letter, to leave Israel and to move to New York to rejoin with them. In 1957, he, his brother, his sister, her husband and their young children finally did. They moved to America, and - after getting a high-school equivalency diploma in night school - my father became a tailor and a dry-cleaner. A working man again. This time, in America.
Mostly because he could not afford it, and then because he was simply too proud to allow others to pay his way, he never (until now) returned to Israel again. That being said, next to his family, it has always been Israel and the memories (happy and tragic) of his years in Israel that he has held closest in his heart.
In New York in 1960, my father was introduced to my mother, an American woman born to Ukrainian-Jewish immigrants in 1928. In less than a year, they were married. They had two children, my brother Sam in 1962 and me (Howard) in 1965. My father now has four grandchildren (one through me and three through my brother) and one great-grand-daughter (through my brother's eldest daughter). Throughout his "American life," he has been an utterly devoted family man, and a tireless laborer. He worked as a tailor and dry-cleaner all of his life, always as someone else's employee, never as the owner of his own business, never having been able to muster up enough capital to strike out as a businessman on his own. Initially, he and his family lived in small, rented apartments in New York City, but, in 1970, with the help of some family money from my mother's family, he and his family moved to a new tract development house on Long Island (in the town of Port Jefferson Station, about 60 miles east of Manhattan). There, he raised his children; there he retired; and, there he - at 94 - and my mother still live - with a great deal of assistance from home-health-care attendants - today.
He is thrilled to be returning to Israel this month.