Murray and Helen Fersztendig were Holocaust survivors from Poland. Both came from families of eight and both were the sole survivors. Murray spent part of the war in an Ukrainian internment camp, and part of the war in hiding. Helen survived the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and death camps at Auschwitz, Madjanek, and Bergen-Belsen. They met after the war, married, and raised two daughters.
For as long as he was able, Murray swam each day. When he fled Poland, mid-winter, he encountered a group of refugees at the banks of the Bug River, swam across at night, and secured passage for the others from a boatman on the other side.