Oral history
History witnesses

Moshe Tirosh

Interlocutor name:
Interlocutor surname:
Krzysztof Bielawski
Przemysław Jaczewski
Catalogue number:
Recording date:
27th April 2017
Recording location:
Recording duration:
Recording language:
Recording copyright:
POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews
Holocaust Survivors

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Interlocutor biogram

Moshe Tirosh (Mieczysław Kenigswein) was born before World War II in Warsaw. His parents were Regina and Samuel Kenigswein. His father was a carpenter by profession, but he was successful as a famous boxing champion. Moshe had four siblings, two were born after the war.

In October 1940, the Kenigsweins had to move to the ghetto, to Nowolipki Street, where after some time they fell ill with typhus.

One time Regina Kenigswein decided to go to the Aryan side in search of food and was approached by some blackmailers. She was saved by Zygmunt Piętak, who from that time helped the Kenigswein family by bringing them food. He also organized an escape from the ghetto for them in 1943 and the possibility of hiding with the Raczek family at Karolkowa Street in exchange for money. The Kenigsweins could not stay there long, however - the Raczek family were more and more afraid for their lives and demanded that the Kenigsweins move out. They had nowhere to go. Finally, they decided to go to the Warsaw zoo. Regina Kenigswein’s father supplied food for animals before the war. The director of the zoo, Jan Żabiński and his wife Antonia, hid them in the zoo as long as they could. After leaving the zoo, they went to their father's friend from before the war, Feliks Cywiński. After a while, they decided to separate. Moshe was entrusted to the care of a certain woman. However, during the bombardment of Warsaw, he separated from her in the ruins and was left alone. He met some insurgents who directed the boy to an orphanage. The orphanage moved from Warsaw to Stankowo. The children lived in very bad conditions, they did not have appropriate clothes, enough food. Moshe, being the only Jewish child, was tormented and ridiculed. Father Andrzej, who shared his food with him, always supported him.

His mother found him after the war. He did not recognize her and only agreed to go with her when she told him about his father whom he remembered.

Samuel Kenigswein took part in the conspiracy in the Warsaw Ghetto and commanded one of the units in the Warsaw Uprising.

The Kenigswein family moved to Dzierżoniów, where Samuel Kenigswein opened a few prosperous workplaces. He died of a heart attack in 1948. After his death, his mother broke down and was unable to support her five children. She gave the oldest children to a Jewish orphanage in Śródborów. Every day, Moshe Tirosh went to school to Warsaw. He suffered great hunger. After a while he wrote to his mother: “If you want me to become a bandit and my sister a prostitute, then leave us in the orphanage”. The mother agreed to take them back to Dzierżoniów. Moshe started to work by repairing radios in nearby villages.

In 1957, the whole family emigrated to Israel. Moshe worked in the army for 20 years.

Recording summary

  1. The earliest memory - hunger and the terrible living conditions in the ghetto, 00:00:20
  2. His mother going to the Aryan side and being saved from hooligans by Zygmunt Piętak, Zygmunt Piętak bringing food for the Kenigswein family; 00:02:30
  3. Repression in the ghetto; the brave attitude of his father whom everyone was afraid of; 00:04:38
  4. The necessity of hiding, the birth of his brother in the ghetto, Zygmunt finding a hiding place on the Aryan side; 00:06:38
  5. Hiding in an apartment; relationships with the hiding family; the necessity to find a new hiding place; the night crossing to the zoo; 00:08:37
  6. The child's intuition that Antonina Żabińska is an angel; the conditions of hiding with his younger sister; missing his parents; 00:12:27
  7. Hiding in Feliks Cywiński’s one-room flat; 00:15:45
  8. The need to separate the family members in order to increase their chances of survival; 00:17:55
  9. Memories of the bombardment; the interviewee's separation from the woman who took care of him; 00:19:33
  10. The orphanage, moving to an orphanage in the Stankowo Monastery, terrible conditions; 00:21:45
  11. Harassment of the interviewee by other children for his Jewish origin; defence of the interviewee by Father Andrzej; 00:25:30
  12. Meeting Father Andrzej after many years; 00:26:48
  13. His father’s post-war businesses; the mother’s search for her children; 00:28:45
  14. Departure to Silesia to Dzierżoniów; his father’s death in 1948; his mother’s breakdown; 00:30:50
  15. The orphanage in Śródborów; 00:32:40
  16. Determination to study; daily trips to Warsaw to school without a ticket; the kindness of the teacher; 00:34:55
  17. Hunger; taking up a job in a shop; 00:37:10
  18. Return to Dzierżoniów; 00:39:45
  19. Emigration to Israel in 1957; working in the army; 00:41:25
  20. The interviewee’s family - wife, children, grandchildren; 00:42:20
  21. The interviewee's pride in surviving; 00:42:55
  22. His father's participation in the conspiracy in the Warsaw Ghetto; building bunkers; 00:43:65
  23. His father's participation in the Warsaw Uprising; hiding in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto; 00:45:45
  24. Hiding in Żabiński’s villa; memories of Antonina and Jan Żabiński; 00:47:30
  25. Birth of the younger brother in the ghetto; 00:49:30
  26. The influence of the traumatic experiences on the further life of the interviewee; lack of trust in people; 00:51:30
  27. Silence about the war and post-war experiences; 00:53:10
  28. Contact with Zygmunt; 00:54:35
  29. Life in Israel; finding the first job, 00:55:55
  30. Relationship with Poland because of his father’s and Zygmunt’s graves; 00:58:30
  31. Evaluation of the book and film about the Żabiński family; 00:59:47
  32. Information about the father; 01:02:12
  33. Religiousness of the grandfather who renounced his son when he became a boxer; 01:02:54
  34. Relationship with his mother; 01:04:10
  35. Meetings with tourists and groups in Israel; 01:05:10
  36. Knowledge of many foreign languages; 01:06:45
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