Josef Siwek, his history during WW2 in Myszków, Birkenau and Dachau
The head of the German village refused the soldiers’ request and a big commotion began. In the middle of the quarrel, a senior officer in the German air-force arrived- It was the officer whom Josef, Hershel, and their friends visited earlier. The officer ordered the commander of the soldiers to return the prisoners to the train, without hurting them. After arguing and shouting, he obeyed and saluted.
When they arrived at the train tracks, they met other groups of Jewish prisoners that were running with their hands up, under a shower of yelling and cursing. The commander of the soldiers, ordered the prisoners to run and enter the wagons, and then he shot the backs of the people running and killed two people.
In the train wagons, squeezed in a mix of prisoners, Salonikan, Hungarian, and S.S. guards who threw away their weapons and ran away. The track was fixed meanwhile. The guards took their places guarding the prisoners. The train started moving slowly, and arrived at Munich.
Suddenly, and surprisingly, German Red Cross representatives showed up and started giving out food in the trains. The train kept going south to Austria. American planes showed up. The S.S. guards started shooting at them, and then the planes dives and sprayed the trains with bursts of gunfire. The train stopped, a terrible disorder and confusion was all around, and a number of prisoners and guards were killed from the plane’s shells. The train continued with its route, until arriving at the next station, where it stopped. The manager of the station informed the train manager that it isn’t possible to continue the ride, because there are Americans in the next station.
The train moved to park in a nearby track. The prisoners were locked up in the carriages. The tension was horribly difficult. They waited till morning, without any food or water. Afraid that right now, a second from the end, the Germans would shoot everyone out of revenge and frustration, and to eliminate evidence for their war crimes.
Early morning on the 28/4/1945, they heard loud rattling of tanks’ engines. The prisoners peeked out of the carriages and saw the S.S. soldiers walking with their hands up towards two American tanks.
The trains’ wagons burst open from the inside and the prisoners poured out screaming happily. Many attacked the S.S. guards and started beating them, ripping their uniforms and skin, with their teeth and nails. The women’ carriage also burst open and the prisoners threw out one of the female S.S. guards, and almost killed her, if the Americans wouldn’t have intervened.
The American soldiers led the Jewish prisoners and the German captives, to a nearby town,” where they quickly built a living facility, on the remains of an old training camp of the Hitler Jugend.
The survivors took off their awful uniforms, and received new cloths. They were put in rooms with beds, sheets, and blankets. They received kitchenware and food portions. In the dinning room, Josef hid in his cloths several pieces of bread. An American soldier who was watching him, approached him gently and told him he doesn’t have to worry, he will be given food tomorrow as well.
Josef and Hershel were put in the same shack. They stayed up till late at night, in an electrically-lit room. They decided to celebrate from now on, from this date- 28/4- their renewed birthday.
In this refugee camp they gathered Jewish prisoners from all around. Hershel talked to several survivors, and found out that his brothers stayed alive and are in Poland. He decided to go back to Myszków to look for them.
Josef refused to join him. He was decisive, that when he recovers, he will go to Palastina. There was no one left in Poland from his close family. In Israel lived his aunts Malka and Tzipora, and his uncle Yeoshua Ben-Tzvi. He sent them postcards from the camp and told them he was saved.
Josef Siwek’s journey to Palastina took a year. He arrived as a “Maapil” in the “Biria” ship, spent time in the refuge camp in Atlit, and was released before the braking of the War of Independence. He met his aunts and uncles who arrived in Palastina before the war, and built their homes here. Their whole wide family in Poland was killed in the Holocaust, and Josef was left the sole member alive. Firebrand saved from the fire.
Josef fought in all of Israel’s wars, married his chosen love, and finally got to see children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Growing up free, and proud of their Jewish identity, in the independent State of Israel. He is living today in Hod Hasharon. His fascinating life story, his survival in the holocaust, and all the events that he was involved in, are compiled in his Autobiography “It’s My Brother I Ask For.”
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