My message to "GOMBIN EMAIL EXCHANGE FORUM" 2.9.97
RE: Philip Zielonka and the revolt in the Konin Concentration Camp.
The story of what happened in Konin is told in the famous book of "Konin a quest", by Theo Richmond, and Harold Boll reported to our forum about this unique book, IBSN 0 09 940981, Chapter 48, page 322-325.
I have tears now when I continue to write to you. I don't know how to tell you, but you have to know that Philip Zielonka died as a Jewish true hero! He took his own life, in a collective act of victory of the human spirit over evil, after setting the camp on fire. For me, this is true heroism, and not told enough by history books. Not less than the Mezada myth 2000 years ago!
I quote form that book, page 323:
A group of plotters planned a revolt, whose objective was, in the words of one prisoner, 'to behave like Samson. Towards the end of July 1943 Moshe Aaronson wrote his last entry:
... "yesterday the Gestapo men came and made a list. The signs are the same as they were last year, for those taken to the valley of the shadow of death at Chelmno. We all have the impression that they will soon come to take us. Our question is whether we are finished and about to perish. But our own wills are as naught before the will of the Most High, the True Judge."
After the war, a survivor, Shmulek Mottel, wrote his own account of the camp's last days, published in The Memorial Book of Gostynin:
"On 7 August 1943 the Gestapo returned and we understood straightaway that there was to be another 'selection'. We knew well enough what this meant. It meant yet more torture, suffering and death. We decided not to allow ourselves to be led like sheep to the slaughter, and that as the last choice open to us - if it were to become clear that the end was near and that we were to be martyred as Jews - we would join together to destroy the camp by fire.
On 9 August the uprising broke out. Tabaczinski and Kleinot from Gostynin, and Kamlazh from Gombin, set fire to the sheds and hanged themselves in the blaze. In the main barracks, Seif from Gostynin and Philip from Gombin hanged themselves. The same fate befell Nusenowicz and Shlomo Michelski from Gostynin and Dr. Knopf, a Jew from Germany. The bloody nightmare of that event will stay with me all my life.
... After firemen put out the blaze, we miraculously remained alive, surrounded by a strong guard. The Germans ordered us to drag out all the dead, the burned and the hanged, and asked me and an elderly Jew from Gombin to deal with the corpses... As it happened, the first body was that of a young friend of mine, Shlomo Michelski. My brother cut him from the rope, and kept the rope in order to hang himself - such was the suicidal psychology that swept over us that day.
When we cut Shlomo down, he was still alive, and an SS man put a bullet through his eyes.
I went up to the dead man, and despite all that had happened to him, the hanging and the shooting - and with it all he had always been a weak lad - he, to my great shock and distress, opened the other eye and recognized me. I could not stand the heartache. I approached the German and begged him to shoot me. As usual, they refused a request... The bloody spectra of those hard days in the Konin camp whirls round and round in my head like a demon, wherever I look or turn.
The tragic occurrence made a powerful impression on the people of Konin. We, the fortunate survivors, stood with bowed heads before our heroes who would not allow the name of Jew to be shamed.">>>
Footnote 8 to this chapter, page 504:
8 - There is also some discrepancy between these eight names and those given by Zvi Szner. On p 108 he names seven prisoners who lost their lives by suicide (Theo Richmond) have added forenames in brackets): [Fleivish] Kamlazh, [Philip] Zielonka, [Abraham] Seif, Getzel Kleinot the gardener, Kamlazh's father-in-law- Abraham Neudorf, Dr Hans Knopf of Berlin, and Zalman Nusenowicz...'
Szner interviewed the survivors, including Rabbi Aaronson, and the Ghetto Fighters' House judges his list to be the more accurate.
The end of quote from the Konin book.
Ben Guyer, dear old friend of my family and my relative, recorded this revolt in his testimony, which I scanned 4 months ago and is put now in our WEB site in this location:
Ben Guyer wrote:
"There was in our camp a young rabbi from Sanniki, named Arunzon, who was a very refined person. We saved his life by "making" a cobbler out of him. the rabbi kept a diary which unfortunately, disappeared."
Rabbi Yehoshua Moshe Aaronson (Ben Guyer refers to him as Rabbi "Arunzon" ) did survive the Holocaust and his diary was FOUND and is still kept in Lochaemi Hagetaot (Shoa and Fighters Museum) Archive since 1958!
I wrote this to Ben Guyer, and while my father was in California, Mel Wruble, asked him 3 times to ask me to find the diary, which I am trying to do already 3 months anyway. Izhak Weicman Kerber now helps me with this, as he himself met the Rabbi in Petach Tikva in the 50s, taken there by Zolna from Tel Aviv, as he needed a witness in order to get compensations from the Germans.
He met the rabbi who after one minute, opened his diary, and found in a matter of seconds, Izhak Kerber name. All were recorded there, whoever arrived to the Konin camp after deportation form the ghetto.
This notebook is so important and will be photocopied by me, for all of us, shortly.
The revolt in the Konin camp is heroic and should not be forgotten, as the men who set fire to the camp and hung themselves in an act of defiance, while doomed in any case, saved the Jewish and human dignity, in the darkest times of mankind history.
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