Most of the operations of the Resistance were crowned with success and they gave an added impetus to the Movement and stimulated it to further activity. They had decided at this point to stage a big operation which would strike at the heart of the Nazi authorities, stir up the Jewish residents who had been living in a state of lethargy and constant fear and at the same time, would throw confusion into the German camp and would throw it into a panic of fear and instability.
This action took place in cooperation with the PPR. The aims of the operation were:
The coffee houses which were selected for the site of the attack were: Cyganeria, Esplanada and Zakopianka an Officers' Club. The same day, two members of the resistance movement in Warsaw had arrived in Krakow: Lola Follman and Yitzhak Zukerman, to persuade the members of the resistance to open up resistance operations within the ghetto.
The bunker which had been prepared as a hiding place for the fighters after the operation was a house at Skawinska 2. The attack on Cyganeria had been crowned with success. Seven Germans were killed and many were wounded. All the operations were carried out as planned and the Germans were struck by panic. The population of both the Jewish and Polish sections witnessed many German corpses being transported by the German military cars.
The Bunker at Skawinska Street
It was definitely a mistake to prepare one shelter for a larger group of fighters. Before they had even a chance to come back to the shelter, it was surrounded by the Gestapo taking the fighters by surprise. Apparently the fighters had been denounced. The informers were Julek Appel and Nathan Weissman.
On December 24th, the apartment of Dolek Liebenskind was surrounded. At that time, Idek Tenenbaum was also there. They defended themselves and Dolek succeeded in killing two Germans and wounding a few others. Idek also killed one. But their situation was hopeless. Following previous decisions, Dolek shot first Idek to death and then committed suicide. They were not taken alive by the enemy.
The arrest of Laban and the killing of Dolek Liebenskind was considered a feather in the cap of the Germans and consequently, a secret communiqué was transmitted by the Commander of the S.S. in Krakow to its headquarters in Berlin relating the ‘incident’. The original of that cable was submitted during the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem by Gideon Hausner, the Chief Prosecutor in the case. In January 1943, Szymek and Gusta Dranger were also arrested. They were imprisoned until April 1943 when they succeeded in escaping while being led for execution.
The acts of sabotage performed on December 22, 1942 were the culminating point of the Resistance but also its swan song. The greater part of the resistance fighters were arrested and killed and the movement was paralyzed after its leadership had been liquidated. However, it had not been completely silenced. Those who survived were reorganized by Hilck Wodzislawski, and the terrain of the activity had been moved to Wisnicz in the vicinity of Bochnia. Alas, their activities did not last long.
All the girls, members of the movement who were performing liaison duties for the underground, were imprisoned together at Helclow. Gusta Dranger and Gola Mire were detained there too. They were all aware of what their ultimate fate would be. Details of their life in prison are portrayed by Gusta in her Diary of Yustine. The two survivors Pesia Warszawska and Elsa LapaLustgarten, depict their experiences of prison life in their respective memoirs.
Elsa Lapa writes that her stay in prison with Gusta was her most profound experience during the German occupation. Pesia, a member of the group of Heshek Bauminger, portrays her impressions in these words: We did not feel that we were indeed in prison. We share the fate of great personalities (referring to Gusta and Gola). We were facing death but we lived in complete harmony. Each one of us behaved like a heroine, but Gusta and Gola served as shining examples of glorious courage. During the entire war, I have not felt such tingling excitement and such spiritual uplift as I experienced in prison.
In this atmosphere, Gusta wrote her Diary on a roll of toilet paper which was being distributed among the prisoners. The Diary was found after the Liberation and published in 1946. In 1953, it was issued in Hebrew in Israel with an extensive introduction. The Diary is not only a lofty document of humanity and heroism filled with love of Judaism and its
Heritage, but it also has a high literary value since Gusta was not only a teacher, a heroic conspirator and a fighter but also had a sensitive and lyrical soul.
After her escape from prison, she plunged fervently together with Szymek into the whirlpool of underground activities. On November 9, 1943, Szymek was again arrested in Wieliczka. An attempt to escape had failed. He had been recognized at the police station. Kerner, the chief of the Special Section of the Gestapo dealing with Jewish Affairs, went personally to Wieliczka to identify him, since he had known Szymek from previous arrests. After having identified him, Kerner turned to the other Jewish prisoners who were inmates in the cell to which Szymek was brought, with these words: Get up, this is your leader and then said to Szymek: This is the last time I am arresting you. I will not play games with you.
Gusta and Szymek had an agreement that they would die together if there were no other way out. When the news of Szymek's arrest reached Gusta, she cried that she wished voluntarily to give herself up. On November 11, 1943, agents of the Gestapo brought her a letter written by Szymek. She got up and went willingly with them.
Until the last moment before his last arrest, Szymek went on with his underground activities. After his escape from prison in April 1943, he renewed the publication of Hechalutz Halochem which was the only organ of the Jewish Resistance and which appeared every Friday in about 250 copies. Only five issues of that paper have been recovered. They are now in the museum in honour of Izchak Katzenelson in Kibbutz Lochamej Haghettaoth, in Israel. The last issued, n°35, bears the date of Rosh Hashana, 5704, October 1943 and was permeated with the spirit of resistance, certainty of final victory over the oppressor and the rebirth of the Jewish people in Palestine.
The last leader of the Jewish Resistance, Hilek Wodzislawski, a member of the executive of AKIBA, functioned until Yom Kippur, 1943. He organized a series of wellhidden bunkers in the forests in the vicinity of Wisnicz which served as shelters for the survivors of the movement as well as for the remnants of the general Jewish population. He took care of Gusta who had been wounded while escaping from prison. He provided the survivors in the bunkers with food and other provisions. He had organized attacks on German patrols and actions in retaliation against the peasants that had informed the authorities of the whereabouts of the Jews. He wore the uniform of a Polish policeman. He met death under the following circumstances: In the village, a Jewish child was murdered. (There exists a version that it was Hilek's brother). Hilek, with two other fighters went into the village at night on a retaliatory raid. During the action, Hilek's revolver jammed and one of the peasants wounded him brutally by striking him on the head with an axe. In the bloody struggle which ensued, two peasants were killed and the fighters succeeded in moving Hilek to the bunker where he lived for just a few days more. Gusta nursed him until he died. He was buried in the forest.
Fighting Groups outside the Jewish Fighters Organization
Members of the Hashomer Hadati collaborated with the Jewish Resistance Movement. According to various documents which have been preserved, several members of that organization took part in the operations of armed resistance. Among them were: Naftali Rab, Szalom Meir Grinwald, Salom and Gusta Hirschberg, Rachel Spitzer and Wolf Krabler. In March 1943, their bunker was uncovered by the Gestapo and completely liquidated.
Another group which actively participated in the Resistance Movement and whose soul and heart were: Hesiek Bauminger, Gola Mire and Beniek Halbreich, was the splinter group of the PPR. The active fighters of this group were the Jewish members who performed acts of resistance similar in character to those of the Jewish Fighters Organization under the leadership of Dolek Liebenskind, Szymek Dranger, Maniek Eisenstein and Abraham Laban. Derailment of trains, attacks on the Optima factory, setting fire to a German garage and acts of individual terror were all carried out by this group. They also participated in the action on a vast scale which took place on December 22, 1942.
During the months of February and March 1943, this fighting group had also been liquidated. At that time, Hesiek Bauminger and Beniek Halbreich were killed. Gola Mire was arrested and subsequently shot to death during an attempt at escape from prison at Montelupich on April 19, 1943.
The leaders of the Jewish Resistance Movement were well aware that the road which they had chosen would not lead to individual salvation. There were other ways to assure selfpreservation. One could hide in the villages; change one's identity and await the final outcome of the war in inactivity and fear. They did not choose to walk that path. In their last meeting at Josefinska Street, Dolek defined the aims of the resistance in these words: Once we choose this road there is no return. We are crossing the path of death daily remember this. Whoever desire to live should not look for fulfilment amongst us. We are approaching the end of the day but it is not twilight that we are facing but death.
They never expected to be victorious. They wanted only to revenge in slight measure the shedding of innocent Jewish blood not to be led like sheep to the slaughter. To die with dignity, proudly and without fear defending their life with weapons in their hands. Their only fear was that they might perish
before they would have a chance of accomplishing something worthwhile.
Their courage had no limit. They were not afraid to fight the armed enemy even with their bare hands.
When on April 29, 1943 Laban was led out of prison on the way to execution, he tried twice to escape. He jumped on one of the soldiers trying to tear him to pieces with bare hands. He fought until the bitter end but finally fell, ridden with bullets.
This is the kind of men they were. They all died like heroes.
Out of 150160 underground fighters in Cracow, only about 20 survived. Most of the survivors now live in Israel and among them luckily are also a few erroneously listed by Shimon Draenger in his famous Yizkor as dead: Leopold Wasserman, Shimon Lustgarten and Elsa LapaLustgarten. Draenger's mistake is easy to understand in view of the situation at that time: the collapse of the whole resistance movement; broken contacts and dispersal of the survivors.
The remainder of the group perished. Some of them are not even remembered by their names; some are presently known by their first or their last names only, sometimes with an indication of which city they came from. Thanks only to the tireless efforts of Shimon and Elsa Lustgarten and the courtesy of Zwi Szner, director of Izaak Katsenelson's Museum of the Ghetto Fighters, Kibbutz Lochamej Haghettaoth, have we been able to obtain the few existing photos of the fighters and Photostats of Hechalutz Halochejm published in this book.
Those who survived insist on not having their own photos put in this book so that nothing should diminish the homage paid to the ones who gave their lives for freedom and dignity of the Jewish People.
None of the seven Resistance leaders has survived. Out of the two leaders who adhered to the communist ideology Golar Mire was shot to death while trying to escape from Montelupich on April 19, 1943 and Heshek Bauminger was killed sometime in March, 1943. Posthumously in 1948, the two were awarded by the Polish Government the highest distinction: The Grunwald Cross.
Out of the five leaders who were Zionists: Aharon Liebeskind, Commander in Chief a man born with qualities of a great leader, intelligent, suave, convincing and able to make people follow him with devotion shot himself to death on December 24, 1942 to avoid being taken alive by the Germans. He also was awarded posthumously in 1945 a Medal of Merit by the then Chief of Staff of the Polish Army.
Shimon Draenger, the activist and genial forger of badly needed documents, was killed in prison together with his wife, Gusta DavidsonDraenger (Justyna), after having been arrested by the Germans on November 9, 1943. Abraham LeibowitzLaban fell to his death on April 29, 1943 hit by 9 bullets while attacking with his bare hands one of the S.S. men leading him to his execution. Maniek Eisenstein was killed in the ghetto. Hillel Wodzislawski, the last leader of the Resistance, died mortally wounded in a retaliatory expedition.
Their ideology did not call for any fighting or killing. They were Zionists and their aim was to immigrate to Eretz Israel, to start a new life as free men, working toward the establishing of a free Jewish Homeland. They were forced by the Nazi aggressors to fight and to kill in self defence driven by their enemies into a trap without escape.
But the reality itself surpassed their wildest dreams and the wildest dreams of other Zionist members of the Jewish Underground organization.
The State of Israel had been created. And to crown the most vivid phantasy they could ever have, the Government of Israel, the free Government of THEIR country created and accorded to each one of these fighters a special distinction:
THE MEDAL OF GHETTO FIGHTERS.
by Lydia Wolf. New York
|Gruenwald, Szalom Meir. from Miechow||Leibowicz, AbrahamLaban Roman Dror. Member of the General Staff|
|Gutman, Hesiek. Jewish Literary Circle||Liebeskind, AharonDolek Jan Ropa, Chief of Staff, Akiba|
|Gurenreich, Szaja||Liebeskind, MiriamMirka. Akiba.|
|Halbreich, Benek. P.P.R.|
|Heffner, Leibek. Hacofe||Lieber, Icek.Jedrek Akiba|
|Heit, Oskar||Lieberman, Kuba. Hechalue|
|Hirschberg, Justa. Hashomer Hadati||Lieberman, Zyga|
|Hirschberg, Salek||Lustgarten, Romek.Roman Gwozdz. Akiba|
|Hilfstein, Zyga||Lonek. from Cracow, Hacofe|
|Infeld, Luska.||Mahler, ZygmuntZyga. Akiba|
|Israelowicz, Israel.||Malter, Roman.|
|Israelowicz, Hesiek. Dror.||Menachem. from Warsaw.|
|Joles, Ewa.||Mire, Gola. Lidia. Member of the General Staff.PPR|
|Joles, Wuska from Rzeszow||Michalowicz, EsterIrka. Akiba.|
|Joziek from Warsaw|
|Kanal, Salo. Adas. Akiba.||Monderer, Henek. Akiba.|
|Kalina, MariaRajzia. Dror||Minczeles, Mania.|
|Klausner, Roman.||Michlewicz, EstusiaIrka. Akiba.|
|Kleiner, Janek.||Pariser, Natan. « Nolek ». Akiba.|
|Krabler, Wolf. Hashomer Hadati.||Prives, Adas.|
|Kuntz, Leon.||Rab, Tulek|
|Laufer, Hirsch||Rafalowicz, Moniek.||Reich, Romek from Bochnia.|
|Rubinsk, Halina. Akiba||Tenenbaum, JudaIdek. Czesiek Jodlowski. Akiba.|
|Rubinstein, Dora. Akiba||Tieger, FiszelFisiek|
|Szmajuk, Sala. Stasia. Akiba||Warszawska, Sala.|
|Schreiber, ShalomSzymek. Hashomer Hadati.||Weiss, Edwin. Akiba.|
|Weksner, BaruchBenek. Akiba.|
|Schneider, Kelena||Weksner, Romek|
|Spitzer, Rachel. Hashomer Hadati||Weinfeld, Uszer|
|Wiener, Maniek. Akiba. from Chorzow.|
|Szmerlowicz, Juda. Igna. Hashomer||Wiemberg, Towa.|
|Stockhammer, Giza. Akiba||Wajntraub, Mania. Akiba from Radom|
|Spritzer, Hanka. Anna. Akiba||Wittenberg, Iziek.|
|Spritzer, Luska. Hashomer Hadati||Wortsman, Genia. Akiba.|
|Stark, TowaToska. Akiba||Wodzislawski, Hillel. Antoni Ludwikowski The last Chief of Staff.|
|Sperber, Henek||Wolf, MoszeMoniek|
|Schreibtafel, Israel. Wladyslaw Jewish Literary Circle||Wulf, Josef Jewish Literary Circle|
|Steiman, Cesia||Zellmeister, Danka. Hashomer Hazair from Warsaw|
|Sternlicht, ChaimHarry Histradrat HanoarHechalue||Zuckerman, Moniek|
|Brothers Leibowicz||Family Spira|
|Dawid Draenger||Ignacy Liebeskind|
|Stefania Libeskiend||Abraham Schreibtafel|
|Family Tenenbaum||Rozia Schreibtafel|
… But the Bush has not been consumed!
Through the ages the history of the Jews is the history of tears, sweat and blood. In every generation, somewhere, someone to justify his life, his shortcomings and failures, found escape and glory in sacrificing the Jews. It happened in times of the Bible, in times of the Christian Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, pogroms, killings and lootings until the last but not least, the most cruel, the most organized and the best planned annihilation of our nation by the Nazi.
But there is no use to go back over and over again on our agonies, our path of sorrow and tragedy. Our book: In Memoriam will be kept for ever in the depth of our hearts, but we, the living, must look forward; forward to the new and ever wide horizons and to the light that is shining brighter every day.
From the ashes of our dead and from the handful of the survivors, a new nation has been born. Our men who knew life only in the ghettoes of Europe are building a new country. They are building it from the very foundation in the most unusual for the Jews occupations, as farmers, bricklayers, fishermen, miners, sailors, soldiers, statesmen, judges and ambassadors.
I was never more proud to be a Jew than at the time when I travelled through the Holy Land, over roads lined with philodendron trees in bloom, through the fields changed from parched and barren desert to lush, green orchards, farms and meadows.
As a Jew from Cracow, I am proud that among the builders of Israel are my friends and neighbours. They fill every place where they are needed. They are lawyers, doctors, military advisors, technical aides to underdeveloped countries, envoys, teachers, scientists, merchants and labourers.
To them, to their living memory, to their work and achievements, I dedicate these few words.
by Ben Geizhals
|Fleisher, Sonia Living in Israel|
|Friemer, CeskaKarmieli Living in Israel|
|GoldwasserOtter RozkaWiener Living in Israel|
|Hertz, DusiekDavid Living in Germany|
|HirschbergNordlicht, Gusta Living in Germany|
|Klingberg, RajziaKohen Living in Israel|
|Lapa, Elsa now Lustgarten Living in Israel|
|Lustgarten, Szymon Living in Israel|
|Lieberman, Kuba Living in Israel|
|Liebeskind, Wuska now Kupper Living in Israel|
|Szajn, Salek Living in Israel|
|Schipper Hela now Rufeisen Living in Israel|
|Schreiber, Pola Living in Israel|
|Schreiber, Szalom Living in Israel|
|Schreiber, Szymon Living in Israel|
|Tieberger, Frycek now Globerman Living in Israel|
|Wasserman, Poldek now Maymon Living in Israel|
|Warszawska, Peska now Kaluszyner Living in Israel|
|Wolf, Joel Living in Israel|
|Wulf, JozefJozek Living in Germany|
|Lieber, Mania Living in Belgium|
The Founding of our Society
The New Cracow Friendship Society has a short but impressive history. It is just celebrating its third anniversary of inception. It was conceived by a handful of people, 13 to be exact, who are the actual founders of the organization. These people, whose names are listed on the following pages as the founders, had the foresight, wisdom and awareness of the great need for such an organization. The aims and purposes of the Society are clearly outlined in the preamble of its constitution ….uniting Jewish Polish survivors of the district of Cracow….developing and elevating the mental and moral character of the people of our faith; of promoting the principles of philanthropy, honour and patriotism. To strengthen our ties with our Brothers throughout the world and particularly in Israel; to help the poor and needy; to bring cultural and social events to the members.
The first founders' meeting took place at Steven Morrow's residence on February 7, 1965. This date is considered the day of birth of the New Cracow Friendship Society.
The many weeks of planning culminated in the first meeting of Jews from Cracow on March 14, 1965 at the Jewish Centre of Kew Garden Hills in Flushing, Queens.
The enthusiastic masses attending that historical meeting, happiness and tears brought on by outbursts of emotion, were proof of the necessity for their long awaited realization of such a society. The enrolment of members then began. Thus, the New Cracow Friendship Society became a reality.
A second General Meeting followed on May 2, 1965 at the Fraternity Club in New York City. The agenda was to hold elections. On the suggestion of the Nominating Committee, those assembled gave the founders a mandate for one year. This prompted a standing ovation. Hence, the first Board of Directors was elected.
The Board consisted of a group of very capable people dedicated to the proposition of successfully building a society based upon friendship and mutual understanding. The envisioned plans for the growth and development of the organization were implemented by the forming of several committees. Here is an account of the duties and activities of all the committees, some which came into being during the various stages of our development:
The Membership Committee: To solicit membership and keep records containing vital information of all members. To organize membership meetings.
Social Committee: To plan, organize and execute social events serving the entire membership.
Israeli Committee: To maintain close ties with Israel and to celebrate Israeli events.
Welfare Committee: To help members in need.
Newsletter Committee: To prepare, collect and edit news items in a monthly newspaper.
Gemilat Chesed Committee: To manage funds for the purpose of lending money to members in need.
Sunshine Committee: To bring sunshine into the hearts of members in times of distress.
Public Relations Committee: To make the Society known and to promote good will.
Club House Committee: To take charge in maintaining the club house.
Cultural Committee: To promote and organize cultural gatherings.
Grievance Committee: To mitigate and possibly settle grievances and complaints brought to their attention by members of the Society.
Cemetery Committee: To make acquisitions and keep records of cemetery plots.
Journal Committee: To solicit memorials and prepare material for a Memorial Journal.
The idea to issue a memorial journal was conceived in June, 1965 and was promptly acted upon. The first chairmanship was entrusted to Roman Gunz who organized a working Journal Committee with Jacob Halpern in charge of the literary part. They collected substantial amounts toward the Journal. In May, 1966, Beno Sonenschein succeeded Mr. Gunz as chairman. Under his chairmanship, the committee made great strides in the collection of material for the literary part of the Journal and a forthcoming book. At the same time, Max Hilfstein served as chairman in charge of fund raising. In October, 1966, after Mr. Sonenschein resigned from the chairmanship, Henry Schreiber was appointed to take his place. He approached this task with initiative and vigour. Together, Mr. Schreiber, Mr. Hilfstein and a hard working committee of Philip Buksbaum, Tola Dizenhaus, Sol Dreier, Fela Friedman, Arie Friedman, Regina Gingold, Carola Greenspan, Frieda Immergluck, Roman Klinger, Ed Mosberg, Nathan Offen, Eugenia Radwan, Erna Rosner, Henry Schwartz and Edith Werthem brought the fund raising campaign to a successful conclusion.
The Memorial Journal in its present form and content was prepared and edited by the Literary Committee consisting of: Max Steig, Lydia Wolf and Giza Wortman.
Special recognition is hereby given to all the people, some of whom are not members of the Society. They, in one way or another, were instrumental in this great effort. Through their tireless efforts, selfless devotion and dedication to the job, they have contributed to the success of this Memorial Journal, as well as to the growth and development of the New Cracow Friendship Society, Inc.
|Richard Abrahamer||Max Hilfstein||David Twersky|
|Elias Friedman||Victor Lewis||Manek Werdiger|
|Ben Geizhals||Sigmund Morrow||Sam Wertheim|
|Roman Gunz||Steven Morrow||Larry Zellner|
|Vice President||Richard Abrahamer|
|Sol Dreier||Leo Liebold|
|Louis Fagen||Simon Mandelbaum|
|David Fishman||Dr. Richard Ores|
|Elias Friedman||Julius Ross|
|Ben Geizhals||Edward Steiner|
|Max Hilfstein||Emil Siegman|
|Viktor Lewis||Manek Werdiger|
|Vice President||Richard Abrahamer|
|Tola Dizenhaus||Victor Lewis|
|Sol Dreier||Simon Mandelbaum|
|Elias Friedman||William Rosner|
|Ben Geizhals||Julius Ross|
|Max Hilfstein||Beno Sonenschein|
|Ann Kandel||Dr. Albert Tilles|
|Roman Klinger||Sam Wertheim|
|Dr. Naum Wortman|
|Vice President||Richard Abrahamer|
|Sol Dreier||Sigmund Morrow|
|Tola Dizenhaus||Nathan Offen|
|Elias Friedman||William Rosner|
|Frieda Immergluck||Julius Ross|
|Roman Klinger||Max Steig|
|Victor lewis||Dr. Albert Tilles|
|Simon Mandelbaum||Sam Wertheim|
I have often wondered, even since the idea was conceived at the first meeting of the Journal Committee of our Society, what the purpose of a Memorial Journal would be and whose interests it would serve.
I don't think that we can honestly say that in order to remember our lost ones we must memorialize their names in a Journal. I would venture to say that those remembered in our Journal have been named at other times, in synagogues and in our own homes. The memory of those whom we love will never die and we will not remember them more because their names are inscribed in the pages of this Journal.
I look at the history section of this book and as I read, I find myself nodding along thinking the history before the words from the page strike my eyes. I know this history and I think we all do. Except for putting the facts in their proper perspective and organizing it in proper language, each of us could recite the history. Even more than that, we each lived through that history and each of us probably has different facts which stand out in reference to any specific event.
This book has not been formulated for us, that is, for us who lived through the Holocaust. This history is written for the future with the hope that what we experienced will never be seen again on the face of the earth. In our homes, this book will serve as a book for our children and generations to come to read and try to understand. They will learn the history in school, but at home, they will associate the history with the family names which are familiar to them. They will see the little things that can only be seen why you study one specific community. Faces of people killed while working for the underground will mean something different when they think that their parents went to school with and grew up with them. Often, history as such, is unbelievable, yet when it becomes personal, it becomes more believable and meaningful.
The history which we lived through must become meaningful and believable to coming generations so that they may learn from history. Future generations will see that life was quite the same and that it was only several orders and several feet of brick wall that destroyed the Jewish community of Cracow. They will ask what the inside of the buildings which are pictured looked like and they will want to know where in the ghetto their parents live. This all is meaningful to them because it is small, specific and personal; not a huge history.
This is important and this is the role of the Journal. It is a memorial and we will all think of many things when we read and remember. But this Journal is meant for the future so that our children and their children will not see what we saw. Many questions will be asked as this book is read, and you will answer as best you can and try to make them understand. There will be times when your own memory will become blurry but as you read and think about it, you will remember and answer the questions.
Because of its personal value, this book will find an honoured place in every home it reaches. I hope that it can serve as both the Journal of Memory and the Journal of Hope, and that its value and role as both will be realized, understood and ultimately successful.
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