Holocaust Survivor and Righteous Gentile

Story from Dix Hills Patch, November 26, 2010:

In 1943, Rachel Mitzmacher and Sara Marmurek were two Jewish girls among many who met in a Polish ghetto and then were taken to the Szkolna slave labor camp to work in an Austrian-owned ammunition factory.

The owner of the factory also owned a rabbit farm. Polish teenager Wladyslaw Misiuna was a Catholic who worked at the rabbit farm and was appalled at the treatment of the Jewish girls at the factory. He would sneak them food and medicine when he could, and then was able to get five of them transferred from the factory to work on the farm with him, where he knew conditions would be more favorable for them.

In August 1944, the camp was liquidated and the girls were sent to Auschwitz, where the majority of new arrivals went straight to the gas chambers. But because the girls looked stronger and healthier than the others—because of Misiuna—they were admitted to the camp instead of going to the gas chambers.

This saved their lives and the five friends were liberated in May 1945. Rachel eventually went to Palestine with two of the five girls, and the other two went to Canada. In the late 1950s, Rachel, her husband and their children moved to the United States and made a home in Dix Hills, where her son Akiva Mitzmacher, 64, still lives today.

Mitzmacher said that his mother, Rachel, Sara (who he refers to as “Sucha”) and the other three girls saved by Misiuna kept in touch throughout the years until Rachel died in 1997.

Mitzmacher still keeps in touch with Sucha, who at age 88 is still “fluent and articulate,” said Mitzmacher.

And this Thanksgiving, for the first time, Sucha, who still lives in Canada, has been reunited with the boy who saved her. Misiuna, who is in his 80s as well, has remained in Poland all these years. It’s the first time they have seen each other in 65 years. Sucha has come to Dix Hills to spend Thanksgiving with Mitzmacher and his family in Dix Hills. Mitzmacher thinks that Sucha is the only one of the five girls who is still alive.

“I call Sucha every holiday and have visited her many times,” Mitzmacher said. “My family normally has about 35 people for Thanksgiving and this year we have 40. Just a few extra.” Mitzmacher has lived in Dix Hills since 1976. “We are Dix Hillians,” he said proudly.

Sucha and Misiuna were reunited after the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous in New York contacted Mitzmacher and asked him if he knew if any of the five women were still alive, and Mitzmacher put them in touch with Sucha. The organization started in the late 1980s and its goal is to provide assistance to Christian rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust, who they call “Righteous Gentiles.”

Mitzmacher said he met Misiuna in 1994 in Poland, when he went there on a trip with his sister. “My parents spoke about the Holocaust every day of their lives,” he said. “They were liberated but not freed. I knew the story of Misiuna and wanted to meet him.”

Rachel also got to meet Misiuna once before she died, back in 1991. Misiuna had come to the United States to visit Esther, another of the five girls he had rescued who at the time was living in Los Angeles. On his flight home, there was a problem with the plane, and it had to stop in New York landing at Kennedy International Airport, Mitzmacher said.

“Misiuna looked up my mother in the phone book while he was waiting at Kennedy and he was able to get in touch with her. My parents went to the airport to meet him during his 10-hour layover. I am glad they were able to meet before my parents died,” he said.

And now Misiuna has been reunited with the only survivor of the five girls, Sara “Sucha” Marmurek, and they are celebrating the Thanksgiving weekend together with Akiva Mitzmacher in Dix Hills.



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