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Avraham Karmi (Stohlbach) (born Sept 22nd 1928) about live during WW2 (in Warsaw, Budzyń labor camp, labor camp in Radom and Dautmorgen), about his way to Israel

An English resume of an interview in Hebrew that took place in Israel, as a part of the Polish Roots in Israel Project. Interviewee name: Avraham Carmi

 

Avraham Karmi, born on September 29th, 1928 in Krzeszowice near Kraków, was his parents' only child. His parents were Bezalel and Leah Stohlbach-Weinber Leżajsk. His father had two last names because he was born while his mother was too young to marry; she registered him with the authorities under her own last name. This changed only when his mother was 20 years old, at which age she was allowed to marry and so could have her children named after their father.

He went to the local school for 4 years. A day before the onset of Wold War 2 he traveled with his mother to Otwock because they had been advised to leave Krzeszowice before the Germans arrived. After Poland had been overtaken by the Germans, they moved to Warsaw and stayed with his uncle Avraham Moshe Posner, who was the manager of the Warsaw Jewish cemetery. During this period he studied for two years in "Tarbut", an underground school in the ghetto, that was run by Dr. Nathan Ek, who was later among the founders of "Yad VaShem". During his stay there he used to perform odd jobs in the cemetery. He and his mother hid there until on Sept.6th, 1942, which was called "The Boiler (Kocioł) Day", they were forced to move to the ghetto and hid in the part nicknamed "Dzika Ghetto" (that is, "The Wild Ghetto"). The Jews that stayed behind in the cemetery were executed. Avraham and his mother hid in the basement of 2, Wolinska st., then moved to 17, Fabia st., and finally to a bunker at 42, Muranowska st., a building that was located just opposite the Umschlag Platz. They lived until the onset of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in April 19th, 1943.

On April 28th, 1943, the Germans collected them from the bunker and transported them to Treblinka, the next day to Majdanek, and finally on April 30th they ended up in the Budzyń labor camp, that had been originally established to contain Jewish soldiers who served in the Polish army. He was sent to work in the Heinkel aircraft manufacturing plant. His job was to paint airplane wings, and he also worked in GKMOT (Grosskraft Motor) tank repair plant.

During his time in Budzyń, he got very ill. A Christian Pole he was working with asked him if there was any way he could help him. Avraham asked him to go to Warsaw and bring him his mother's jewels which were hidden in the Jewish cemetery. His uncle, Avraham Moshe Posner, who was also prisoner in the camp, provided him with the cemetery plans; but the exact location was pointed out to him by Jurek, one of the children that stayed hiding in the cemetery. The jewellery was duly delivered and he exchanged it piecemeal for bread and food with the local Polish workers. Years later, in Israel, Avraham met Jurek for the first time. As they were exchanging stories from the camps, Jurek revealed to him that the Gentile that had risked bringing them the jewellery was, in fact, Jewish, and was living in Israel. The following day Avraham met his savior. His name is David Lieberman, and lives in Tel Aviv.

In the spring of 1944 he was transferred to a labor camp in Radom, where he was employed in making bolts in a rifle manufacturing facility. In the summer of 1944, all of the camp inhabitants were moved on foot to Tomaszów Mazowiecki via Przytyk, where they were held in an artificial silk manufacturing factory, and then transported by train to Birkenau. After a selection process which involved having to pass under a horizontal stick which served as an improvised height-measuring construction. Those that did not reach it stayed in Birkenau and were sent to the crematoriums. The others got back on the train. It took them about a week to get to Stuttgart, and then they were transported to Weihingen, and finally to Dautmorgen (while others from the same shipment ended up in Flossenberg).

On April 19th, 1945 their German guards marched them into the nearby woods. The next day the German soldiers took off their uniforms, put on the striped dress of the Jewish prisoners and disappeared into the woods. The prisoners were left alone. They were afraid and spent the ensuing night on the trees. The next evening they met a group of French POWs (prisoners of war) that had worked in surrounding German farms, and together with them they walked to the Swiss border. Avraham and the other Jews were not allowed to enter Swiss territory, so the Frenchmen somehow put them in the hold of a truck that was about to cross into Switzerland. They parted with the truck at a Red Cross camp in the town of Saint Margaret. From there they continued their journey across Switzerland until they crossed the French border. When they reached Toulon, they boarded "Mataroa" – a cargo ship in the service of the British Army, sailing to Israel.

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