Warning! The text retains the original spelling of surnames and place names by an Israeli researcher; in many cases it may not be correct. Fragments that could contain current personal data have been removed from the interview.

 

Name of Interviewee: Elzbieta Zaks (Itzhaki), b. 14.7.1938 in Warsaw;

Subject of the interview: Elzbieta Zaks;

Father's name: Ignacy, b. 1905 in Warsaw;  

Mother’s name: Maria Tyrmund, b. 1910 in Warsaw.

 

Family

Her father Ignacy was born in 1905 in Warsaw and her mother Maria (nee Tyrmund) was born in 1910 in Warsaw.

Paternal family

Father's parents: Berl Zaks and Pola were born in Warsaw.

Father's siblings: Heniek, Jerzy, Sofia, Fred, Pepek, Edek.

Maternal family

Grandmother Ludwika; (grandfather's name not recalled).

Mother's siblings: Edwarda, Zygmunt, Olek.

Grandfather Berl managed a leather factory in Warsaw and headed a secular family. Her father Ignacy attended the Jewish High School, learned bookkeeping and worked at the razor factory in Warsaw. Her mother was employed there as the manager's secretary. The family lived in the Praga quarter at ul. Waszyngtona 55.

Her mother Maria and aunt Edwarda were active sportswomen in the Jewish sport association “Maccabi Warsawa” [Makabi Warszawa]. In 1926, they made the jump into the Wisla River from the Kierbedzia Bridge in the presence of a massive crowd.

Uncle Fred emigrated to the USA.

WW2: Her father Ignacy and his brother-in-law Seweryn Landau (aunt Edwarda’s husband) went to Bialystok and then returned. The latter decided to take his wife and return there, whereas Ignacy decided with his wife Maria, to remain in Warsaw because of the chaos and bad sanitary conditions in Bialystok as a result of the masses of Jewish refugees. The Landaus continued to travel in the Soviet Union, passed through Archangelsk [Arkhangelsk] and afterwards arrived in Jambul, Uzbekistan. Uncle Seweryn, an architect by profession, worked on a kolkhoz in agricultural and woodcutting plants.

Elzbieta’s family was trapped in Warsaw. Her father worked on building the ghetto walls and became acquainted with a Polish engineer connected to that project. One day in 1942, following a decision made with the engineer to rescue Elzbieta, her parents hid their little daughter in a trashcan which they handed to a garbage worker, who passed it over to the Aryan side of the ghetto. The engineer's wife was waiting for her. Elzbieta would live at her rescuers’ home over the following years, except for the several weeks of the August-September 1944 Warsaw Uprising, when they moved to a nearby village. In July 1945, the gentile woman took Elzbieta to the "Dom Dziecka" orphanage in Zatrzebie. However, since she did not identify herself on that occasion, Elzbieta has never been able to find out who the woman, who had saved her life during the war, was.

Post WW2: During her stay at the orphanage there were occasional visits of American Jews who came to adopt orphans. One lawyer was ready to do so with Elzbieta, when on August 1946, her aunt Edwarda appeared. She had returned from the Soviet Union and was already living in Wroclaw. She found her niece on the lists of the Jewish committee in Warsaw. Being her closest relative after her parents who had perished, she took Elzbieta with her. By the way, the American lawyer arrived two years later in Wroclaw and asked after her.

Uncle Jerzy who returned from the Soviet Union settled in Krakow and immigrated to Israel in 1957. Her other uncle Heniek, survived Auschwitz and went to Italy from where he immigrated later to Israel.

The Landaus adopted Elzbieta officially. Stepfather Seweryn was employed in his profession as an architect at the plant D.B.O.R. (Dyrekcja Budowy Osiedli Robotniczych) in Wroclaw. He was also a boxing referee at international competitions.

Elzbieta attended the second and third years of a grade school and then the TPD grade and high school (two years), continued at the Wroclaw Liceum Felczer [Państwowe Liceum Felczerskie] which she graduated in 1957 on the eve of their immigration to Israel. (Felczer gives a medical degree between nurse and doctor).

In Israel, Elzbieta attended an Ulpan (a Hebrew language school), which almost all newcomers went to. She then began to work as a nurse at the central Tel Hashomer Hospital. Later she moved to an industrial clinic where she was employed for the following years until retirement.

Stepfather Seweryn decided not to work in his profession as an architect and instead earned a living in textile marketing. He passed away in 1981.

Elzbieta is married, mother of two and grandmother of four.

Print