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[Page 187]

Pinchas Baron

Translated by Libby Raichman

When we heard the nickname “Yatsk”, it aroused in us a hint of suspicion that we were faced with a derogatory word, God forbid, but the truth was exactly the opposite! The name was Pinchas Baron and not Pinchas Yatsk, and there was no significance in debating it, for there were many Pinchas's in the small town. It is, therefore, necessary to determine that the “Yatskes” actually brought honor to the Jews of the town, more than any lobbyist, or person of stature, or refinement. A Rabbi, a rabbinical judge, a lawyer, the leader of a community, a scholar, an intelligent person, or simply, an important Jew – all brought honor for themselves, but not Pinchas Baron. “Pinchas Yatsek”. He was not a man of prominence or importance; on the contrary! On more than one occasion, he endangered his life to save the honor of the Jews in the town, and he did this without a trace of hubris, and without philosophizing - traits that were customary among the Jews. He was like a “Nachshon[1], who led by example; he belonged to the category of those who “do” and not those who “listen”.


Pinchas Baron during the Days of Destruction

When the first Jews of the town were rounded-up for labor, Pinchas was sent to the labor camp Mielitz, close to Donbitze[2] where he joined many more of the town's youth. It was not the work in this camp that upset him, rather the humiliating attitude of the S.S. supervisors and their police. He was angered by the gross and shameful injuries inflicted on the workers and was convinced that he could not continue like this. He feared that his inner impulse, as a human being created in God's image, would overcome him and he would be forced to tear one of them apart, and then he would immediately and with certainty, face the death sentence. He therefore took a decision and acted – he escaped from the camp. Two weeks later he returned to Briegl and here he became like a dog, hunted by the police. For a few weeks, he went into hiding, and was never in the same place at night, as he was during the day, until it became clear that he could not continue this life of hide-and-seek that endangered his life, unnecessarily, and therefore presented himself voluntarily to the labor camp “Tzchof”[3] near Briegl. After a while, he regretted his actions and felt ashamed because what he witnessed in this labor camp was a degrading and scathing affront to other human beings. In my eyes, he was a man who saw the extent


Pinchas Baron

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of the insults and hatred towards the Jews, his friends at work, and his reaction to all this was to organize three friends to join him. One of them was Elimelech Kornreich who lives in America today, and the three of them fled from the camp into the forest; thanks to their action, they remained alive. In the forests they dug hide-outs for themselves, deep in the ground, among wild tangled bushes that served as a cover. They moved from place to place to camouflage their hiding places, because from time to time they went out at night to hunt for food from the farmers in the villages. As they did not have any money, they did not want to take free food from the same farmers each time.


Pinchas's Group among the Partisans

As the group wandered from forest to forest, the four of them encountered groups of partisans of the A.K.[4] of the Polish underground. When they found Poles among them who recognized Pinchas from before the war, Pinchas's group thought that that they had found some refuge from their wanderings, but after a few days, they were ordered to leave and to distance themselves from that place. However, after Pinchas pleaded with them repeatedly, the A. K. agreed to give them two handguns and a few bullets, in exchange for two gold watches. Indeed, having these two wooden handguns in their possession, increased the sense of security of Pinchas's group, immeasurably.


The First Jew to Return to the Town

Pinchas was the first to return to the town, without any hesitation or fear. He trusted himself.

On 18. 1. 1945, when the Russians had repulsed the Germans back to the other side of Krakow, Pinchas returned to the town from the vicinity of the Churubah forests, in the Briegl area. On that same day, he evicted the Gentile from his parents' house that was still furnished with his parents' possessions. In the course of time, isolated individuals returned from all kinds of hiding places and concentration camps. All these people found a Jewish house under the patronage of Pinchas Baron; but their numbers were so small that it did not seem apt to re-establish the congregation of Briegl, may the Lord avenge their blood. Although numbers reached a few dozen, and in the course of time a few dozen came from Russia, they all decided that there was no place for them in Briegl. In addition, the Polish government had concentrated the survivors of the Holocaust in “Brutzlav and its surroundings”,[5] at a place where the Germans were passing through on their way to Germany. Then Pinchas married, raised a family and had two daughters, Shoshanah and Tzippora, named after his mother and his sister. Pinchas was not at peace, and he returned to the dream of his youth, the time when he belonged to the left-wing Po'alei Tzion, to realize his ambition of reaching the Land of Israel, that in those days, was an adventure. However, it was also a difficult time for him because he had two daughters to raise.

But time took its own course. After three years the State of Israel was established, and this gave him the opportunity to fulfil his idea of emigrating to Israel, although, even then, the path was sown with obstacles. In spite of all, he succeeded in reaching Israel in 1950. Even there, Pinchas remained devoted to his town, and there was never a memorial event in which Pinchas did not participate.

We bow our heads to Pinchas's memory, the proud Jew, thanks to whom, Jews were saved, and as a partisan, destroyed an element in the ranks of the frontlines of the Nazi army, may their names be erased, in his battles with them in the forests of Poland.

Honor to his memory!

Details were given by his wife Miriam, may she have a long life.

Written by the coordinator of the book.


Translator's footnotes:

  1. A Nachshon is a daring person. The legend is, that Nachshon, leader of the tribe of Judah, was the first to plunge into the Red Sea when the Israelites left Egypt. Return
  2. An alternate spelling for Mielitz is Mielec; an alternate spelling for Donbitze is Dębica. Return
  3. An alternate spelling for Tzchof is Czchów. Return
  4. A. K. stands for Armia Krajowa, the Home Army – the armed wing of the Polish underground. Return
  5. An alternate spelling for Brutzlav is Wrocław. Return

[Page 189]

The Catholic Edek and the Jewish Mala
(Or: A Love from Life until Death)

Translated by Libby Raichman

Auschwitz was a prison camp not only for Jews, but also for Polish adversaries of the Nazi regime. In the years 1940 until 1944, Poles were also deported to Auschwitz. One of these Polish patriots, a young activist named Edek, was brought to Auschwitz with the first Polish transport on 14th June 1940. The people in this transport received the first numbers that were tattooed under the skin of their left arms, numbers ranging from 11 to 758. Edek Galinski, the Catholic, received the number 531, and the girl of Jewish parentage that he later loved, Mala Tzimmetbaum-Hartman, received a much higher number – 19880. She arrived in Auschwitz in 1942, with the transports from Belgium. In 1929, her parents left Poland for Belgium, but the long arm of the Nazis had already reached the Jews of Belgium in 1940. Transports of Jews from Belgium had been in force since June 1942, but not specifically with Belgian born Jews who had Belgian citizenship. No, the Belgian Jews were actually taken last. The “foreign Jews”, the refugees who fled Germany from their country and came to live in Belgium, were taken first. Polish Jews, German Jews, Austrian Jews, were Jews of a second category, in a foreign country, and when the Nazis began to take the first Jews to Auschwitz, they took the “foreign Jews”. The same process took place in France, in Holland, and in other European countries. (I will dedicate a special chapter to Belgian Jewry).

The young Edek, who was in his early twenties, worked in the base camp in Auschwitz, as a locksmith and plumber. A tradesman of this nature would roam around the whole camp with his box of tools on his shoulder because in one area, a door or a window needed repair, and in a second area, it might be necessary to fit doors to the toilets. Sewer systems had to be installed, taps in the barracks needed repair, or externally, water pipes needed attention. As Edek wandered around the camp, he became familiar with all the important people, and all the officials.

Mala was a very beautiful girl, also clever and agile. She was chosen by the S.S. as a “courier”. The S.S. women were also very fond of Mala because of her fine appearance, her good manners, and for “faithfully fulfilling orders” that the S.S. administration decreed. Mali would visit all the women's camps and also the men's camps. She was even permitted to approach the crematoria, as far as the gate, but was not allowed to enter, because no one ever leaves there. Nevertheless, men came from the crematoria to the ramps, luring the Jews from the trains – leading them to the “washrooms” – to the crematoria. Mala would also visit the women in the “Unyan” factory where they worked with ammunition and explosive material. Edek liked Mala a lot – and fell in love with her.

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It is not known how long Edek was in love with the Jewish girl, because he kept it a secret for a long time, even from his Christian friends in Auschwitz, with whom he was on good terms. Edek was not an overseer; he worked independently, sometimes alone, and sometimes with a group of tradesmen.


The Polish Underground Movement in Auschwitz

A large number of Polish Socialists from the P. P. S.[1] were taken to Auschwitz as opponents of Fascism and Nazism, or simply, to prevent them from organizing an uprising in Poland itself. Jews also belonged to the Polish Underground movement in Auschwitz; they were known Socialists or Communists, who had been imprisoned, even before the war. The Polish Underground movement was interested in being in contact with Jews who spoke Polish freely and knew German. Some of them would steal documents from the offices where typewriters were used, files were kept, and reports were prepared. These were mostly Jews from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia who also knew good German and Polish. Jews from Shlezia,[2] knew good German and assisted in this regard too.

In his memoirs, Levental accuses the Polish underground movement led by Tzirankowicz, the man who later became the Prime Minister of Poland, of taking large sums of money from the Jews in Auschwitz to fund their activities, in many different currencies: in Zlottes, in Marks, in Dollars, and in other currencies, as payment for the work of the Polish Underground movement. (The Polish patriots deny this). However, Levental also says that the Polish intelligence and the Socialists, did help Jews to escape. The fact is, that Edek escaped together with the Jewish girl, Mala, thanks to the help of the Polish Underground movement. In the same way, Mordkowicz and Rozin escaped from Auschwitz on the 27th May 1944, with help from the same organization. They reached Slovakia, where they joined a partisan group. Yosef Maizels and others, also escaped, thanks to our help. (Page 147 of Levental's diary).


Edek Plans to Escape from the Camp

Edek acquired an S.S. uniform and a revolver, understandably, with a little assistance from Mala. She helped him to procure these items, both in the laundry where the Jewish girls worked, and from the tailors who helped to repair German uniforms. With the money from the Jewish ZonderKommando,[3] the Polish underground even bought weapons from a few S.S. personnel.

[Page 191]

In 1944, the S.S. men searched for gold for themselves and wanted to become rich in their own right. They did not want the gold to be melted into gold bars and sent to the German Reich's bank. This occurred at the time when the transports to Auschwitz were fewer, and the S.S. personnel had enough time to wander around and search in every corner of the camp. Edek had a Polish friend who was a “Shtuben-eltester[4] and had the task of counting the prisoners during roll-call.

Edek had planned to escape with him to Krakow and had already acquired an S.S. uniform. The plan was that Edek would take his friend to work outside of the large guardhouse. That required written permission from the German “office” stating that an S.S. man is escorting a prisoner to work. The kapo (overseer) of the block, made contact with a Jewish courier, a Slovakian Jew, who had access to the “office”, and stole this type of permit for him.

Edek told his secret only to his friend with whom he wanted to escape. Once, when Edek returned from the dentist, he decided together with his friend, to discuss the matter. (Incidentally, Jews had no right to go to a dentist). Doctor Mengele contrived this ruse: during selections, he would call for a qualified doctor, or a qualified dentist to step forward. Doctors and dentists stepped out of their rows and presented themselves. Mengele ordered that they be taken to a specific place. The specialist dentists were taken to the crematoria 1, 2, 3, 4, and there they “professionally” pulled out the gold teeth from the gassed Jews. Mengele also called for goldsmiths. They had no idea that they would be working with Mengele in the “ZonderKommando” and would be melting the gold from the teeth into gold bars, weighing them, and sending them to the German Reichsbank in Frankfurt.

As a Christian, an older prisoner, and a good worker, Edek was allowed to visit a dentist when he had toothache. When he returned, he discussed the plan of escaping from Auschwitz, with his friend; he also began to talk about the women's camp, and about Mala. He had never spoken so much about the women's camp, as today, and particularly about the Jewish girl, Mala, to whom he was very attached, and whom he knew for some time. He said that they had a lot in common, and that it would be difficult to part from her. Mala is suffering from malaria, and sooner or later, as a Jewish girl, she would have to die. Edek was embarrassed to tell his friend the truth, that he is in love with the Jewish girl. Edek says that he has not yet told her that he and his friend were planning to escape, yet he wants to tell her, and suggest that she escapes together with the two of them. Edek told about his plan, that he alone would be disguised as an S.S. person and would escort Mala as a male; she would however need a permit from the office to which she has access.

[Page 192]

His friend asked: do you believe that a weak girl like Mala, who in addition, is suffering from malaria, will be able to undertake such a difficult journey, climbing very high mountains? It is a march of tens of kilometers! On the way we will not be able to receive assistance from any Christians because they would notice her Semitic facial features and recognize that she is Jewish.

Edek did not allow himself to be dissuaded. He stands by his decision, because when one truly wants something, one will overcome all the difficulties. With this the discussion ended. A couple of days passed, and Edek brought a painting of Mala that a certain artist had painted in Auschwitz. The friend hid the painting for Edek. He must surely have received it from Mala. However, what difference does it make now?

The friend, the “Shtub-eltester”, secretly sent a letter to his Christian sister in Zakofanne,[5] saying that he is planning to escape with friends and will need to stay with her for a short while. Regarding Mala, he wrote that she was a hardworking girl and that she had acquired a permit. Mala was very happy that they were taking her along. Edek was very pleased, but his friend spoke little: I am of the opinion, that a woman brings setbacks.

The friend became confused at rollcall and could not count the people, and as a result, all the people had to stand an hour longer at the assembly place. His superior, to whom he reported, did not punish him, because they had schemed something together. However, the S.S. man Grafat, slapped him for that, and he was transferred to another unit.

Earlier, Edek had already arranged, with the Jew Chamek – Chaim from Melave, who was the “big-wig” in the “Shtrassen- Kommando”, in the women's camp, that his friend would work there. He became a clerk in this unit (and did not do physical work again). “And show kindness to a senior” … (written in a Biblical verse). As Levental said in his memoirs, that he who holds a stick in his hand, in Auschwitz, and is in command of others, has prospects of surviving at the expense of others.

The next day, Edek's friend was working in the women's camp. (One must be able to maneuver and have protection).


Edek and Mala Escape from Auschwitz

The young couple set the deadline for their escape on Sunday at 12 noon. Edek's friend and another detainee called Yurek, would escape on Monday, on the same route. The friend would be the S.S. person and Yurek would be the prisoner. Edek and Mala would remain in the village of Kozi and would hand over their permits and the S.S. uniform to Shimlak, the civilian, who would then return these items to Auschwitz and leave them at the place where Yurek worked so that he and Edek's friend could use them for their escape the next day.

[Page 193]

Edek cut a key for himself giving him access to the potato camp, that was not far from the women's camp. The next day, his friend gave him the S.S. uniform and the revolver that he had hidden for him. This was all well planned. Edek looked good in the S.S. uniform. The next morning, the weather was fine; by midday, it was very hot, and the S.S. guards sought refuge in the shade, and took a nap.

Edek and his friend entered the women's camp. There, Mala was waiting in the barrack with two young Slovakian Jewish girls who were also couriers, like her. Mala was pale and irritated. A map lay on the table and the Slovakian girls were pointing out the Slovakian border on the map. The girls persuaded Mala not to stay in Poland, but rather to cross the border into Slovakia.

The two Slovakian girls embraced Mala, kissed her, cried, and wished her success. The parting of the three girls took some time, as they could not tear themselves away from each other. Mala took leave of Edek's friend. Her hand was moist, she was trembling and began to cry. Edek's friend had the feeling that Mala would not be able to endure the difficult path ahead, because such a weak girl would not be able to climb the mountains.

Edek wore the S.S. uniform under his clothes. He was self-assured and always counted on a positive outcome. Between sections A and B of the women's camp, Edek and his friend parted, and did not even shake hands. Edek's friend then said: we will wait for you in Kozi.[6] Edek lifted his toolbox on to his arm and left through a side exit of the women's camp. He reported to the guard and walked along the ramp. His friend Yurek,[7] approached Edek, and the two of them carrying their toolboxes on their arms, arrived at the potato bunker, and there, with the duplicate key, opened the door and went outside.

Mala walked quickly through the women's camp. She carried a heavy toilet basin on her head. Yurek accompanied her to Edek who was now dressed as an S.S. man. Yurek stands up “beware” of “the S.S. man Edek” … The S.S. man Edek, told Mala to walk ahead and he walked a few steps behind her, according to the directive … they still had to pass the large guard-post, and from then, freedom beckoned them. They passed through the turnpike where an S.S. man stood guard, and in this way, they left the camp.

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Until evening, no one knew that two prisoners were missing in Auschwitz. The Auschwitz musicians are in the meantime, playing a merry march. One work unit after another, is returning to the camp. Edek's friend's unit comes into view, about to march past the guard. The music is playing to the beat of the pedestrian march. The work-unit of the plumbers, where Edek worked, stood to the right, and waited. They had never worked together as a close group, rather in small separate groups, in various places in the camp. Therefore, it always took longer for the whole plumbing group to reach the assembly point. They are counted a few times, and one is missing.

Edek is missing from the group of plumbers. Tadek Piyekarski[8] asks Edek's friend: Where is your friend Edek? I don't know, he answers. I saw him today in the women's camp, says Tadek, who was suspicious of both of us – implying that we know something, and he asks, that we not cause any trouble for him, because he is responsible for each person in the group, will receive a strong lashing from the S.S. and will be thrown into the bunker. He could not imagine that Edek would escape without his best friend. Piyekarski informed the S.S. man that one member of his group was missing. The S.S. man then slapped Piyekarski, the overseer, in the face.

At roll-call, they call out: one is missing! One S.S. man runs to the guards, the alarm is activated, and soon the howl of the siren is heard. Everyone stands tense. The Russian prisoners look cross-eyed at Edek's friend and smile. Yekl is standing next to Edek's friend, looks at him, and squeezes his hand. The siren has ceased to howl, as if ending its lament. The camp leader, Shvartzhuber,[9] goes on guard. The S.S. calls Denish, the camp elder who runs to the guard. The sensational news spread quickly through the camp.


A sensation in Auschwitz – Mala the courier has escaped

A Jewish girl, from the women's camp, the courier Mala Hartman Tzimmetbaum, number 19880, has escaped, and Edek Galinski number 531, from the men's camp. Shvartzhuber wondered that a long-term prisoner of his, escaped. It is no use looking. “The loving couple has escaped”. After the evening meal, Edek's good friend ran to Yurek Baron who was the last to be with Edek and Mala. All the acquaintances shake his hand from joy, that his friend managed to escape. It was mostly the Jews who were happy, writes the friend; the Jews invited me to them and honored me with food and drink. In every camp site, one hears only one topic: “Edek and Mala”.

[Page 195]

Yurek told the friend, what took place at the block-house. Mala was lucky, because the S.S. man Pershl, happened to ride off on his bicycle, and the female overseer who remained, was a stranger. They told her that they were on their way to repair the rim of the toilet lock that had broken off. (Edek broke it). Yurek escorted Mala into the toilet, dressed her in the overalls of a Polish worker, put the heavy basin on her head, took her out of the toilet and led her in the direction of the potato bunker, where Edek was waiting dressed in his S.S. uniform. Mala walked slowly. Her entire body trembled, as if she was having an attack of malaria. With their permit in hand, Edek left with Mala, through the chain of S.S. guards. Everything went according to plan, without event.

In the “work unit” the friend stood in the first row, together with Chamek, the Jew. When they passed through the women's camp, the chief overseer said to Edek's friend: don't play the same game with me today, that your friend Edek played yesterday with the “glazier”, the main overseer. He managed to get by without a hitch, but I am a Jew, and my head will roll, because of you. Give me your word of honor that you will not escape.

A courier, small in stature, gave a sign to Edek's friend that she wanted to talk to him. This small Slovakian girl was overjoyed. She proceeded to describe the scene at roll-call. Dreksler, the S.S. report administrator, thought that Mala had taken ill somewhere, in a corner of the camp, and that was the reason that she was not present. Everyone in the camp searched in every nook and cranny.

The friend then went to Shimlak[10] and asked him to bring back the S.S. uniform from Edek, so that he would be able to use it to escape the next day. Shimlak, however, did not arrive the next day, as planned. Instead, a civilian came, looked at the number on the friend's arm, and winked to him to approach him. (The numbers were those that the S.S. tattooed on the left arm of every prisoner, numbers that were there forever. Each prisoner must die with his number on his arm, and each one must live with his number).

Shimlak would not be coming today, he said, but he had something to give me. The Gentile removed his hat and took out a note from Edek. The message in the note read, that they had advanced without any problems. Edek and Mala reached the little village of Kozi in the evening. Mala feels well and they are continuing.

The Gentile adds that Edek and Mala were unable to find Shimlak's house in the village of Kozi where they were supposed to stay the night. They asked the peasants where Shimlak's house was located. An S.S. man and a girl were wandering around in the vicinity, so Shimlak did not allow Edek and Mala stay over because he was afraid that the women would betray him to the Gestapo, so he sent them to an unknown Christian. That man

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sent them to a haystack in the field where they could spend the night. Edek did not send the S.S. uniform back, because Shimlak did not want to take it. It appeared that we expected too much of Shimlak. Edek also did not want to put Shimlak in danger and he left the village.

A day later, again two Polish prisoners escaped – Kostek Yogiella[11] and Tomek Sabinski, and later Rishek Kordel, Micholok, and Papuga. A few days passed and news arrived that Edek and Mala had been caught.


Edek and Mala Captured

How could it happen, that after so many days, they allowed themselves to be caught? Now they will be brought to the political section in Auschwitz, and they will be tortured at the investigation. I shudder - said the friend, that if they will not be able to endure the torture, they will disclose who helped them; what will happen then? Also, Yurek is in a terrible state of fear and wants to escape from the camp as soon as possible. To flee tomorrow - was their decision. The friend “Kosiber” soon receives a secret letter from Edek. He writes that they were caught in the mountains of Zshivyetz,[12] when they ran into a border patrol. They were taken into captivity from Bilesko.[13] Their captors were unable to identify them because Edek was wearing the S.S. uniform at all times. They were interrogated every day by the Gestapo. They were treated well and even received coffee and cake every day. The Gestapo only wanted to know, how they escaped from Auschwitz, and who gave Edek the S.S. uniform. They did not disclose this information.

Yurek thinks, that if the Gestapo cannot extract this information amicably, they would inflict the most terrible torture to break them down. Despite this fear, both friends decided to escape the next day. The Gestapo began beating Edek with iron rods on the soles of his feet, but Edek did not reveal from whom he received the uniform.

On the second day, Edek's friend goes out to work. At the gate, they see dead prisoners lying “shot while fleeing”. Among the dead was Yurek. The S.S. command “eyes right!” so that everyone should observe the concentration camp inmates who had been shot. The S.S. is satisfied.

A short letter is again received from Edek, and this time a very tragic one. He informs that they are awaiting their sentence … They did not betray anyone, and Mala is holding up admirably. They will not come out alive from these executioners' hands.

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The Gallows for Edek and Mala in Auschwitz

We are returning from work accompanied by the orchestra playing a military march. In the space near the kitchen, we see gallows. Often, there were two or three structures of this kind, but this time, only one. This time the friend knew for whom it had been designated. The friend who had been informed that Edek would be hanged behind the kitchen, was forced to observe how Edek was hanged. Yup, the overseer, tied Edek's hands with wire.

The S.S. block leader, Grafit, is wearing a tin badge on his chest, indicating that he was serving in the camp today. The senior block-leader recommended him. All the prisoners stood in a quadrangle, with the gallows in the middle. The door of the cell opened, and Edek was brought out. Edek conducts himself admirably. His steps can be heard scraping in the sand as he walked towards the gallows. Yum, was the hangman and he walked behind Edek. Edek's friend moved to the front row, so that he would see Edek as he passed by. Edek walked proudly, his face was pale and swollen from the beatings. Edek passed by his friend and went up onto the raised section, and stood at the noose under the gallows, and the noose of the rope touched his head.


Edek's Tragic Death

The shout of the S.S. is heard: Attention! One S.S. man steps out with a paper in his hand and begins to read the judgement. At that moment, Edek wanted to push his head into the noose of the rope, to hang himself. He kicked the stool away from under him with his feet and remained hanging in the air. This is how Edek hanged himself and did not wait for the S.S. hangman to do it. Edek kept his word. The S.S. men raised a cry and forced the overseer to hold the hanged man by his feet, so that he should still live, because for the Germans, there must be order, even at a hanging. The overseer grabs Edek's legs, sets him back on the raised section and loosens the noose of the rope.

The S.S. man finished reading the verdict in German and began to read it in Polish. Edek waited calmly until he finished reading. When it became quiet, Edek shouted out: Long live Pola … . He did not complete his sentence: the hangman Yum, pulled the stool out from under Edek's feet, and Edek remained hanging. All the prisoners were shocked and paid their last respects to Edek. Soon a shout was heard: Everyone step away!

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At that moment, the place became empty. Only Edek's dead body remained there. The Russian prisoners try to calm me down. They slap me over the shoulder and say: Schreiber, calm down, the Nazis will pay for everything! Edek's friend was called away by a courier.

The kapos: Denish, Yup, and Kozyek Zus, feel that they should say something to Edek's friend. They say: “Edek was your friend; he did not betray anyone”. They also told him that when the camp kapo bound his hands, Edek handed him the postcard. They add, “With God's help, when you return home in good health, take this little package and give it to his father”. The head kapo, Denish, gave him a small package and told him to go back to his block. He added that he should not tell anyone about it, because Edek was a good comrade.

In our block, in the presence of Yenkl, and the Jewish barber, the friend opened the package to see what it contained. On the card were the names of Edek and Mala – Edvard Galinski number 531, and Mala Tzimmetbaum number 19880, and wrapped in a piece of paper, a bunch of Edek's hair and a colorful gold lock of Mala's hair. We looked and we cried.


Mala also dies at the gallows

The next day, Edek's friend meets the small Jewish courier from Slovakia, a friend of Mala. She told him that Mala did not allow herself to be hanged by the S.S. either. When Mala stood on the platform under the noose and heard the judgement that the S.S. read in German, she cut her veins with a razor blade.

The S.S. did not allow Mala to die as she wanted, only at their command. The S.S. man Taube, jumped towards Mala, to lift her body so that she would still be alive, but Mala, with her bleeding hand, slapped the S.S. man Taube in the face.

The S.S. men were so angry with the Jewish girl who had the courage to slap an S.S. man in the face, before she died, that they took her down from the gallows and began to trample on her with their feet in the presence of all the girls standing around in the women's camp. The death sentence was carried out, but as not as “precisely” as the S.S. would have liked, and as their directives demanded.

[Page 199]

The S.S. did not hang Mala. They put her on a cart, and her friends took her with the cart, to the crematoria. On the way, Mala died. The small Slovakian girl, who recounted this story, was one of the girls who accompanied the beautiful Mala Tzimmetbaum on her last journey; now the small Slovakian girl is wiping the tears from her eyes with the sleeve of her camp garment. Edek's friend could not find any words of comfort for the small friend of Mala Tzimmetbaum.

The friend left Auschwitz on 27th October 1944, for the Oranyenberg camp and took the picture of Mala with him, and the samples of hair belonging to her and to Edek. The picture of Mala Tzimmetbaum is now in the museum in Auschwitz, as a sign of the heroism of the young couple, Edek, and Mala.

The friend of Edek Galinski was Vi'eslav Kyellar. Edek was supposed to escape with him, but exchanged him for Mala, and faithfully died with her.

Translated from Polish by Tuvia Friedman

Head of the Institute for Documents in Haifa,
P.O. Box 4950.
Tel. 511192.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. P.P.S. stands for Polska Partia Socjalistyczna – the Polish Socialist Party. Return
  2. An alternate spelling for Shlezia is Silesia. Return
  3. Zonderkommando – special units Return
  4. Shtuben-eltester – a long term detainee of the camp. Return
  5. An alternate spelling for Zakofanne is Zakopane. Return
  6. An alternate spelling for the village Kozi is Kozy. Return
  7. An alternate spelling for Yurek is Jurek. Return
  8. An alternate spelling for Piyekarski is Piekarski. Return
  9. An alternate spelling for Shvartzhuber is Schwarzhuber. Return
  10. An alternate spelling for Shimlak is Szymlak. Return
  11. An alternate spelling for Yogiella is Jagiella. Return
  12. An alternate spelling for Zshivyetz is Żywiec. Return
  13. An alternate spelling for Bilesko is Bielsko. Return

[Page 200]

The “Lustigs” and the “Yatzkes”

Translated by Libby Raichman

There were two families in the small town who, with all their might, defended Jewish honor. On a personal level, they might have thought less about their deeds, but their deeds in daily life, spoke for themselves. Without words and without superfluous explanations, they acted, and for this we must mention them and mark their specific characteristics, as much as memory permits.


The Lustigs

The Lustig family, did not really live in Briegl itself. They lived on the road to Bochniye,[1] and for Jewish pedestrians, their house created an illusion of security, because the road to Bochniye was unsafe and put fear into every Jew; there a Gentile boy would approach and beat them. The fear and the feeling of insecurity accompanied them the whole way, until they drew close to the peak of the mountain, from whence, they could see the Lustig's house in the distance. Then – as one says – it lightened the heart, and the closer one came to the house, the more at ease and assured one felt, because here was a Jewish home where one would find protection.


The House of Our Father Jacob[2]

Although this family lived about 6 kilometers from the town, they were regarded as Briegl residents. In truth, they also felt that they were part of the town, because a few times in the week, the two youngest brothers of the family, spent time in the town. We focus only on two brothers, because in our years, their father had already passed away, and the ten older brothers had left the home of their parents and created their own homes. The only daughter Dina, and the two youngest brothers remained with their mother. The older of the two, made an impression with his deep bass voice that could be heard from a distance. In addition, his Yiddish sounded strange, and was half Polish. He would play billiards quite often at Yashe Shnur. He would arrive late, as late as 11 o'clock at night. For him, fear did not exist. He was always accompanied by his short stick that did not suit his height, but it suited and served his job.


Shai Lustig on the Big Market Day

In Briegl, there were two market days in the week: Tuesdays and Fridays. These were normal markets. Again, every second week, there was a “big market”. On that day, the farmers brought cattle, horses, and pigs to sell. Shai Lustig was no more than an intermediary for the horse

[Page 201]

traders. For this role one needed a good stick and agile hands; and even more: have no fear. And Shai Lustig had all these qualities. Quite often, there were serious disputes among the horse brokers, whose disputes often ended with stick language, and Shai Lustig had good control over this “language”.


A Fear among the Jews of the Small Town

On such a market day, “stick language” evoked a fear among the market shopkeepers. The “stick language” lasted for almost two hours, and the sound of the fighting spread among the farmers who immediately expressed their rage in antisemitic utterances that caused distress to the shopkeepers, who then began to pack up their shops. However, the police chief and eight policemen succeeded in calming the fighting at the so called, Pig-Place. Then the outcome of the fighting was revealed. Shai Lustig stood with his stick, badly beaten, with blood trickling from his head and his face, but he stood with his stick. Also, his youngest brother, recently discharged from military service, a powerful boxer and one accomplished in “Ju-Jitsu”, stood half-comic, with a black eye, and blood dripping from his ear. This is what the two Lustig brothers looked like. And among the Gentiles, lay more than 30 older and young Gentile youth, bashed, bleeding and screaming from their wound; and when the surrounding Gentiles requested that the police chief arrest the Lustigs, he answered that he was embarrassed to approach the judge in court and complain that the two brothers fought with you, in your hundreds. This is how the confrontation at the place ended, and in disgrace, the Gentiles swallowed their defeat. This is what happened when the Jews spoke in their “stick language”.


The “Yatzkes”

This family had two branches: the old Yatzke's two daughters married and created their own families. The older daughter's residence was at the market-place, and the younger daughter remained living with her old father, Aharon Yatzek, from whom the nickname “Yatzek”, originated. This name could be traced back to the time of the old Reb Tuvyele. Two camps were created in the town: one was called “Achdut” [Unity], and the second “Yashkes”. Reb Aaron Baron, the father, and the grandfather of these children, was also the father of the nickname “Yatzkes”. Reb Aaron Baron was sitting with his friends, resting after a steam-bath. They were discussing the actual internal community politics, as there was indeed a problem of “Achdut” [Unity] and “Yashkes”. Unintentionally, Aaron Baron expressed himself using the word “Yashkes” – and the name “Yatzke”, no longer

[Page 202]

appealed to him. There and then, his friends attached the name “Aaron Yatzek” and if he is “Aaron Yatzek”, then his children and grandchildren are “Yatzkes”.


The Orientation Day in the Town

Every year, the same event: the enlisting of the youth for military service; as usual, the Jewish youth did everything, to avoid the military. That required money, and the ordinary people had neither money nor influence. This was contrary to the view of the Poles: their parents brought their sons to the enlisting center with beautifully adorned wagons, and it was a day of festivity for them. Of course, there was a means of increasing their joy with “a little alcohol”, and with that, they went through whole bottles of Vodka and “all the abundance is praiseworthy”, as most of them became as drunk as Lot[3]. In this state, they had to show the Jews what they could do. And they immediately made a dash for the shops, where the owners had unpacked their merchandise on market day. The two Yatzkes families occupied stores at the edge of the market-place, and there they displayed earthen and stone pots, enamel pots, and other kitchen wares.


Pots and Heads are Broken

The Gentile youth went immediately to the earthen pots and began to kick them. Of course, the pots were cracked. At that, the first to answer, was the young wagon driver, Burke, the wagon driver of the older daughter of Aaron Baron, who in a short time became one of the Yatzkes. After a bash to the mouth of one Gentile youth, the lad could no longer see. And another of the sons of the older daughter, who ran the shop with his mother, set his two large, strong hands on a second youth whose face was immediately covered with blood from his nose. And these two sons of the older daughter, Burke and Pinchas Yatzek, slowly and quietly, each tore off a “swingletree” from a wagon (part of a wagon) and beat them over their heads. On one side of the market, the shopkeepers packed up their merchandise, and on the other side, the Yatzkes were beating heads.


The Police

The police who were mobilized to maintain order on that market day, managed to stop the fighting. If not for the police, who knows what level the fighting would have reached. Then the police began making their investigations and writing their account of events. Here Jews and Gentiles became involved, together with the police, so that they could come to an agreement. But the “Yatzkes” agreed to abandon a court appearance, but by no means, the cracked pots. The discussion to resolve the issue, lasted long hours and ended with the Gentiles paying for the cracked pots and returning home with cracked heads.

Author undisclosed.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. An alternate spelling for Bochniye is Bochnia. Return
  2. This title “Father Jacob” refers to the refers to the father of the Lustig family, who like Jacob, the forefather of the Jewish people, fathered 12 sons, and one daughter, also named Dina. Return
  3. Refers to Lot in the Bible, the nephew of Abraham whose drunken state is described in Exodus chapter 19. Return


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