If I release you from hospital today, you will go to work and you won't be able to manage. Therefore, I'll keep you here as long as I can so that you can regain your strength. Eat well and rest so that you will be able to keep going when you leave.
Dr. Simon Lubicz, an inmate at Auschwitz III (Buna-Monowitz) said these words to Siman-Tov Mahel (later Zvi Michaeli) from Thessaloniki. Dr. Lubicz saved his life.
Shimon-Simon Lubicz was born in 1912 in Grodno, Poland. He moved to France, where he lived in Bordeaux and studied medicine. He served in Africa as a doctor in the Foreign Legion, and then returned to France. In 1942, Lubicz was caught in Bordeaux and imprisoned in the Compiègne camp. On 20 July 1942, Lubicz was transferred to Drancy, and on 23 September, he was deported on Convoy 36 to Auschwitz. He passed the selection, was marked as prisoner #65685, and was sent to work as a doctor in the hospital in Buna-Monowitz, where he met Michaeli, who arrived at the hospital suffering from pneumonia.
On 2 April 1943, the Mahel family was confined in the Baron Hirsch ghetto in Thessaloniki, and deported to Auschwitz on 7 April. The journey took seven days. After arriving at the camp, Michaeli never saw any of his family members again.
Remembering his decision to go to the hospital, Michaeli recalls:
One day I felt […] that I had no strength left. I said to the person next to me: 'This evening I'm going to the clinic, so that the doctor can prescribe me 2-3 days' off'. He warned me: 'Don't go to the clinic. Don’t start with doctors. You know what they say: 'Whoever enters the hospital is never seen again’.
Returning from work that day, Michaeli couldn't decide what to do. In the end, he went to the clinic and was sent to hospital despite his opposition. The doctor who examined him in hospital was Dr. Lubicz. Lubicz took good care of him, and after Michaeli recovered, Lubicz kept him in hospital another two weeks so that he could regain his strength.
After two weeks, a selection was carried out at the hospital, and patients were told that the next day they would be returning to work. Michaeli wanted to join them, but Dr. Lubicz prevented him from doing so, and thus saved his life a second time. The patients were taken the next day to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Zvi and another patient under Dr. Lubicz's care remained at the hospital and survived.
Lubicz was transferred to the Dora camp, and from there to Magdeburg, where he also worked as a doctor. On 30 April 1945, Lubicz was liberated at Lübeck, Germany, and returned to France in June.
In January 1945, Michaeli and his fellow Auschwitz inmates were sent on a death march. He was liberated at Bergen-Belsen on 15 April. In 1949, he immigrated to Israel after a period of recuperation in Sweden, and married Elvira Matza, a survivor from Thessaloniki whom he met in Sweden.
In 1994, Michaeli succeeded in tracking down his rescuer, Dr. Lubicz, and met him in Paris, when he found out that Lubicz had saved more Jews. They remained in contact until Lubicz's death in 2000. "I send him boxes of oranges and red grapefruits, and every 2-3 weeks, I call him, or he calls me," said Michaeli in his testimony. "It's unbelievable. 50 years later, I met the doctor who saved me."