Phil was born in 1929 in Czeladz, Poland. Aware of impending danger, Phil’s parents sent him and his brother to relatives in Wolbrom, Poland. When the war started in September 1939, the Jews of Wolbrom were attacked in the streets. Afraid for their safety and for their parents, Phil and his brother secretly took a train back to Czeladz. Phil soon found a job working as an apprentice in a furniture factory that had been taken over by Germans. In 1942, he was sent to a prison, and then to the city of Sosnowiec. In Sosnowiec, the Nazi authorities selected Jews to be deported to concentration camps.