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Antoni Dobrowolski RIP….

ImageAntoni Dobrowolski, oldest Auschwitz survivor, dies aged 108.

The oldest known survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp has died aged 108 in Debno, north-west Poland, officials say.

A teacher, Antoni Dobrowolski, prisoner 38081, was imprisoned for giving secret lessons during Germany’s occupation of Poland.

Mr Dobrowolski was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Nazi concentration camp in 1942.

He was later transferred to the Gross Rosen and Sachsenhausen camps in Germany, before being freed in 1945.

“Auschwitz was worse than Dante’s hell,” he said in a video made when he was 103.

Education for Poles was restricted to just four years during the Nazi occupation, in an effort to suppress Polish culture.

Mr Dobrowolski was part of an underground effort to continue education for children.

October 23, 2012 Posted by | Auschwitz, News | , , , | Leave a comment

Franciszka Mann

ImageFranciszka Mann (Franciszka Mann) – 4th February 1917 to October 23 1943 was a polish dancer, who is mentioned in the context of a heroic action in Auschwitz concentration camp.

Before the Second World War she was a young dancer located in Warsaw. She studied dance in the dance school of Irena Prusicka. Her friends at that time included Wiera Granand Stefania Grodzieńska. In 1939 she placed 4th during the international dance competition in Brussels among 125 other young ballet dancers. She was considered one of the most beautiful and promising dancers of her generation in Poland both in classical and modern repertoire.

At the beginning of the Second World War she was a performer at the Melody Palace nightclub in Warsaw. She was a prisoner of Warsaw Ghetto. In several publications she is mentioned as a German collaborator. Her name is associated with the “Hotel Polski affair”. At the same time she is mentioned in the context of heroic behavior in Auschwitz.

On October 23, 1943 a transport of around 1700 Polish Jews arrived on passenger trains at the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, although they had been told that they were being taken to a transfer camp called Bergau near Dresden, from where they would continue on to Switzerland to be exchanged for German POWs. One of the passengers was Franciszka Mann. She had probably obtained her foreign passport from the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side. In July 1943 the Germans arrested the 600 Jewish inhabitants of the hotel and some of them were sent to Bergen-Belsen as exchange Jews. Others were sent to Vittel in France to await transfer to South America.

The new arrivals were not registered but were told that they had to be disinfected before crossing the border into Switzerland. They were taken into the undressing room next to the gas chamber and ordered to undress. Different accounts give different details of what happened next, but what is confirmed is that she fatally wounded the roll call officer Josef Schillinger, using a pistol (many accounts say his own) and fired two shots, wounding him in the stomach. Then she fired a third shot which wounded another SS Sergeant named Emmerich.

According to Tabau, the shots served as a signal for the other women to attack the SS men; one SS man had his nose torn off, and another was scalped. However, different accounts say different things; in some Schillinger and Emmerich are the only victims. Reinforcements were summoned and the camp commander, Rudolf Höss, came with other SS men carrying machine guns and grenades. According to Filip Mueller, all people not yet inside the gas chamber where mowed down by machine guns. Due to various conflicting accounts, it is unclear what truly happened next; the only things that are certain are on that day Schillinger died, Emmerich was wounded, and all the Jewish women were killed.

October 23, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

On This Day…………………

ImageOn 23 October 1943 a transport of 1,800 Polish Jews arrived from Bergen-Belsen to Auschwitz.

They all had passports allowing them to emigrate to South America.

The SS sent them to the gas chambers immediately after selection, men were directed to crematorium III and women to crematorium II. In the undressing room of crematorium II in Birkenau, the antechamber to the gas chamber, one of the women realized the danger they were in and seized SS man Josef Schillinger’s pistol. She shot him and wounded him badly, and also shot a second SS man, Wilhelm Emmerich. This was a signal for other women to attack the henchmen. However, the SS suppressed the mutiny very fast and killed all the women. Schillinger died on the way to the hospital in Katowice. Emmerich survived, but was disabled. 

The identity of the women has not been 100% confirmed, yet some sources indicate, that it was Franciszka Mann.

October 23, 2012 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

2 year stadium ban for Polish swimming hero.

A man has received a two-year stadium ban after he ran onto the pitch at Warsaw’s National Stadium before the Poland vs England match was called off, Tuesday night.

The 41 year-old man, described as Adam D. ran onto the pitch while fans waited for announcements as to whether or not the World Cup qualifying match would have to be re-scheduled due to a five hour downpour in the Polish capital.

A Facebook page – Free Heroes of National Swimming Pool – was set up after Adam D. was arrested on Tuesday night and spent the next two nights in a police cell.

The Facebook page had nearly 60,000 fans at the time of writing this article.

The man emerged from the stands and made for one of the goals, to see, he told the district court in Warsaw, Thursday, whether the pitch was in a condition to allow the Group H match to go ahead.

Adam D reportedly told the court that he was not aware of the legal penalties against what he was doing and that he thought his actions would ease a growing tension in the crowd, as kick off time came and went with still no announcement made by the National Stadium.

Adam D. who was one of several males who invaded the pitch, was ordered to pay a small fine (around 25 euros) as well as having to serve a two-year stadium ban.

The re-scheduled match was finally played on Wednesday night when Poland and England drew 1 – 1.

Meanwhile, the National Sports Centre, which manages the National Stadium and the Polish Sports Ministry have set up two different investigations as to why the match had to be called off on Tuesday. The National Stadium, which was opened this year at a cost over 500 million euros, has a roof which can be closed when rain is forecast for an event.

On Tuesday night, the roof remained open as the pitch turned into a swimming pool.

October 18, 2012 Posted by | News, Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

Ryszard Horowitz

Of late I only seem to have news of  the deaths of Auschwitz survivors, here’s a happier story.

The renowned photographer and Auschwitz survivor Ryszard Horowitz has received an honorary doctorate from the Fine Arts Academy in Wrocław, south-western Poland.


In his thank-you remarks, Horowitz, a Krakow contemporary to Roman Polanski who now lives in the US, said he could not believe he gained such a prestigious distinction considering that, as he put it, “not long ago I left communist Poland with a five-dollar banknote hidden in the heel of my shoe”.

His luggage included a folder with his drawings and paintings which were supplied by an official with the stamp reading “the articles do not have any artistic merit”.

Horowitz, who emigrated to the United States in 1959 after being born in 1939 and enduring time in concentration camps with his parents while under Nazi occupation, also told those attending the ceremony, who included President Bronislaw Komorowski, that he has not forgotten Poland and has not changed his name into Richard.

“It was thanks to very hard work and a little of bit of talent that I managed to achieve something,” he said.

Ryszard Horowitz was four months old when he and his family were ransported to Nazi German concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He was one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz when it was liberated in January 1945.

As a student at the Fine Arts Academy in Kraków, he developed an interest in photography, which he continued in the United States. He studied at the Pratt Institute in New York City. Upon graduation, he worked for several film and design companies, before opening his own photography studio in 1967. He has earned a reputation as a pioneer of special effects photography prior to digital technology, and has updated his techniques as technologies have changed.

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Auschwitz, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shlomo Venezia, who survived being an Auschwitz Sonderkommando, dies


Shlomo Venezia, a Holocaust survivor who wrote about his experiences in an Auschwitz Sonderkommando unit and spent years bearing personal testimony to the Shoah, has died.

Venezia, who was born in Salonika (Thessaloniki), Greece, died Sept. 30 in Rome at the age of 88.

Deported to Auschwitz in 1944, he was one of the few survivors of the notorious Sonderkommando units – teams of prisoners forced to move and cremate the bodies of those killed in the gas chambers. His mother and two sisters were killed in Auschwitz. He wrote about his experiences in a memoir, “Sonderkommando Auschwitz,” published in 2007.

Venezia was very active speaking about the Holocaust at schools, public events and in the media, and he accompanied Italian student groups on study trips to Auschwitz.

His death “leaves a vacuum and great pain,” said Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno.

Nicola Zingaretti, the president of Rome province, said: “It is difficult today, and it has always been difficult, to find the words to thank Shlomo for all that he has given us and all that he has taught us, and it is difficult, maybe impossible, to comprehend the depth of his suffering, his courage and his generosity.”

The Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, Irina Bokova, also paid tribute. “Shlomo Venezia was an exceptional and tireless witness of this dark period of history,” she said in a statement. “He dedicated many years of his life telling his story in Italy and throughout Europe to serve as a warning for the future. He influenced a whole generation of young people, teachers and historians, thanks to his deep loyalty to the memory of the deceased. All those who knew him were struck by his modesty and his strength of character,” she said. “His death is a call to intensify efforts for educating and transmitting the history of the Holocaust around the world.”

October 3, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment


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