Survivor Testimony: Plonsk Jews in Auschwitz

Barbed wire fences in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp

David from Plonsk appeared as soon as I arrived in Birkenau. As in the Plonsk ghetto, in the camp he was able to ease his conditions and that of those close to him. Here in Birkenau he worked in the "sauna," a place that gave those that worked there a position of power. In a short time, he had secured me work sorting clothes. It seemed as if he performed a very simple act on my behalf: he bribed a kapo. In fact, in doing so he took a great risk, but one that was part of life in the camp. I viewed it as the continuation of our old friendship, as well as part of the obligation of Plonskite solidarity.

I worked with Rosa Roberta. Rosa decided to take part in the uprising planned  by the Sonderkommando. Because I knew Rosa and worked in the "Union" [munitions factory], I was privileged to be among those that helped provide the raw materials for the manufacture of the weapons. With a heart beating hard with the weight of responsibility, I gave Rosa a few granules of dynamite, but the men were not happy with the quality of the material. Batsheva gave me a cylinder containing rolls of explosive material. That impressed the men more. It was the material they needed, our contact Rosa told me.

The rolls of explosive material were passed to me as I left the factory. I hid them on my body, and passed them to Rosa. Luck was on my side and that of Ella Gärtner  who smuggled the explosives together with me; for months we weren't caught... almost every day we handed explosive material to members of the underground to make bombs or other weapons.

David gave me my final orders, which filled my heart with a mix of impossible fear, excitement and pride that I had been part of it all:

When you see the shacks in the men's camp burning, immediately take the weapons from the hiding place and pass them to the fighters at once.

Disastrously, on the day it all happened nothing went to plan... the bodies of those killed were scattered between the blocks. I saw how some of the men had tried to escape but were shot and fell down on the spot. Among them was Yosef Bornstein, who came from my town.

Haya Krojn, K'chi Oti Itcha [Take Me With You], p. 66 onward