sobota, 13 maja 2017

Julius Madritsch in William Kornbluth's book "Sentenced to remember"


            The author of the book "Sentenced to Remember" was an eyewitness to the events that took place during the Holocaust. His memories begin with a period, when he was a small boy deriving from a Jewish family.  He lived in Tarnow, a city in southern Poland and went to school there. Already at that time he felt the reluctance from the people to the Jews, when his peers ridiculed him or even hit him. Horror began only, when in 1939 German troops entered to Tarnów.
             Kornbluth very accurately describes his experiences and the fate of his and his family. He has included in his memoirs numerous references to Julius Madritsch.
             After transferring the Kornbluth family to the ghetto, his brother Natan - a skilled craftsman - was employed by Madritsch, a manufacturer of uniforms for the German armed forces. Soon the author was accepted to work too. To get a job at Madritsch, it was enough to show only the skill of sewing.  Kornbluth describes that this place has proved to be essential in their long-term survival. Whereas, in the short term, it allowed for continuation of dangerous but essential practice - returning to the ghetto with food.
              He also mentions that Madritsch's employment gave temporary protection his sister Bronka. She avoided the selection process at the time. Without identification, there was no chance during the detention.The employment certificate was sometimes all was decided about life or death. Therefore, to protect Simon, who was beaten in the ghetto , starved and sentenced to hard work, it was organized ID for him and employment at Madritsch.He was an expert on sewing machines, and that made him valuable to Madritsch and kept him alive.
             In September 1942, during the liquidation of the Ghetto in Tarnów and the export of Jews from Tarnów to the concentration camp in Plaszow, all those, who worked for Madritsch had a separate selection. Many women have been separated from the main group. The SS guards ordered to Madritsch to choose the workers who are to be sent to the ovens of Auschwitz and he felt, that he would not be able to do so without them. After the second selection, people working for Madritsch were loaded onto a train for cattle, several dozen on a railway wagon and taken to Płaszów. This issue was discussed at the Yad Vashem Institute during the considering Madritsch's candidacy for the title of "Righteous Among the Nations," but Madritsch's behavior was considered independent of his will in these circumstances.
           William Kornbluth, Natan and Simon continued to work for Madritsch, since the factory was also founded in Plaszow. At this point, their fears diminished. They knew they were supposed to work, not wait for death. Those, who worked for Madritsch, were treated more mildly than prisoners, who were sent daily to other posts in Płaszów or Kraków. Unlike them, his staff worked less brutally in the barracks. They were also beneficiaries of the unwritten law in Płaszów, that Madritsch's workers were not subject to shootings. Otherwise, they would be run the normal camp mode. They suspected, that Madritsch bribed Goeth or the camp commander was his quiet partner.The factory produced about twenty thousand uniforms a month and was extremely profitable. Madritsch paid the German authorities 7.50 marks a day for every man and 5.00 marks for a woman. The profits of all involved were enormous.
          Raymond Titsch - Madritsch's co-worker, humanitarian and decent man, oversaw the plant. He was in charge of delivering additional bread slices to the factory barracks in Kraków, to supplement the modest food rations in the camp. It was a crime, for which there was a severe punishment. The life in the camp was very heavy. Often lacked food ration and people starved. There was no access to additional dishes. Some prisoners smuggled food into the camp, putting their lives at risk. Kornbluth claims, that only the Madritsch factory was different, and the people were "happy" there.
             Using the latrines in the camp in Płaszów was a real torture for them. To get to them, you had to go through the lake of urine at a depth of a few centimeters. All the latrine spaces were covered with excrement from the many prisoners with diarrhea.  There was no paper and not enough space. The employees of Madritsch had much better conditions, because the latrines at their barrack was better kept than the camp latrines.
               William Kornbluth repeatedly mentions Madritsch in his book. He had a direct connection with him, as Julius saved him and his immediate family, and with them many other prisoners. This is an eyewitness testimony about Madritsch as a man saving Jews from extinction.


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