Yehuda Maymon

“The first deportation from Krakow Ghetto was carried out in May 1942. Six thousand Jews were deported. At that time, we had already heard rumors about the mass slaughter of Jews, so the leaders of Bnei Akiva youth movement – which I was I member of – decided to set up an underground movement that would stand against the mass murder. We wanted to show the Nazis and the whole world that Jewish blood would not be spilled with impunity, and that we would not submit to the Nazi atrocities without resistance. On December 22nd, 1942, two days before Christmas, the underground members assembled in a shack outside the ghetto, where we held the last arrangements for our retaliation against the Nazis. Looking back, I can say this was my happiest day during the holocaust, because I felt I was finally taking control of my fate and fighting back.

Our main operation that night was throwing Molotov Cocktails at Cyganeria Café downtown, where we knew senior Nazi officers would come to celebrate Christmas. And indeed, some of them were killed in there. We raised Polish flags on public buildings and stuck posters calling the Pols to rebel against the Nazis. We also set fires throughout the city in order to create chaos and allow for the underground members to clear out safely. Although we did not declare this to be the Jewish underground’s operation, in order to prevent a Nazi revenge on the ghetto residents, it was still an extremely important action which proved that Jewish blood would not be spilled with impunity and that we would not go like sheep to the slaughter.

I still can’t explain how I survived. In so many instances I felt a divine intervention had saved me from immediate death. In one case I was admitted to the Auschwitz clinic. According to the rules, if you hadn’t recovered within fourteen days you were sent to the gas chambers and to the crematorium. Since I still ran a high fever on the thirteenth day, an SS supervisor signaled me out for cremation the next day. Thinking I was the only Krakow underground survivor, I wanted the world to know it was the Jews who carried out that operation, and not the Pols. I saw a tall, blonde, German speaking Arian medic who looked as if he had just stepped out of a Goebbels propaganda film. So I asked him to approach me and told him about the Fighting Pioneer’s operation, hoping he would pass it on. Luckily, it turned out that “German” was a Jew, a Bnei Akiva member, and he told me he knew those commanders who were my comrades back then.

Following our conversation, the “German” told my story to the head of the communist resistance movement in the camp, who was also a Jew. This man came to the clinic and ordered the Jewish doctors to eliminate the note on my transfer to the crematorium. Moreover, he made sure I was relocated to another department, where my altered records showed I was only just admitted for treatment. This way I gained fourteen more days to recover, and I finally received proper care and managed to recuperate. Later I was summoned by this communist resistance commander, who asked me if I would join their organization. I told him I would gladly do so, as long as he remembered I was a Zionist, not a communist. Fate had it that of all the people in the world, it was an atheist communist who made me regain my belief in divine intervention.

Font Resize
error: Content is protected !!