05.08.2019 | Redaktor

Teichtal family

Yitzhak Teichtal was born in Brzesko Okocim in 1879 to Samuel Teichtal and Ryfke nee Stern. Yitzhak got married to Chaja nee Mendelbaum, they had at least 4 children: Gittel Towa (1905), Jozef (1908), Roza (about 1910) and Leibisz Arie (1917). At some point after 1910 the family moved to Krakow. Gitel Towa got married to Menachem Blum; Jozef – to Rachel Klagsbald, Róża – to Chaim Vincelberg and Leibisz – to Lula. Yitshak and Chaja Teichtal, their children, spouses of children and grandchildren Tzwi (1939, son of Jozef and Rachel), Basia (1927, daughter of Gitel Towa and Menachem), Arie Leib (1939, son of Gitel Towa and Menachem) as well as many other more distant relatives were murdered in the Holocaust – in Krakow, Bochnia, Bełżec… Meir Blum, son of Gitel Towa nee Teichtal survived and still lives in Izrael. Some time ago he contacted me and asked to write down his testimony in Polish – the story of his escape from Bochnia ghetto. He still speaks Polish. One of few surviving shatters of a huge family.

“We lived in Krakow in 4 large rooms, and when we were forced to move to the ghetto, we found ourselves in a three-room flat with two more families.

We lived in  ghetto at Lwowska 18. The street was partitioned by wires – half of the street was in the ghetto and the other half outside. I was 8.5 years old then. I remember watching the tram going across the street from the ghetto, children going to school. They were laughing and I was locked up in the ghetto.

In 1941, when the ghetto had not been yet closed and it was possible to leave it, we went to Brzesko – there was no ghetto there at that time. We lived in a house on Mały Rynek, at the corner of Glowackiego street. But in 1942  ghetto was also established also in Brzesko, so we returned to Krakow.

We were in the Krakow ghetto for about 1.5 years, and when the actions started there, we fled to Bochnia, where it was still relatively safe. (During one of such actions, my uncle was caught in  Krakow  and sent to Bełżec.) My parents, my older sister, me and my younger brother – we were all together then.

The ghetto in Bochnia was closed, it functioned as a gulag. There was such a camp-fuhrer there, a German from the Gestapo. He used to walk the streets, he could shoot and kill without any reason. Everyone was afraid of him. I remember how he walked with a great German Shepherd. This dog jumped on me, bit my leg. It was very hard, but I managed to survive.

One evening, my mother came up to me and said that they had decided to send me to Hungary. There was such a possibility, but it costed a lot. Unfortunately, my parents did not have enough  money to pay also for my sister and brother. But my younger cousin was supposed to go with me.

During the night from Saturday to Sunday it was very dark. My mum accompanied us to the exit from the ghetto, a man was waiting for us there. I was 10.5 years old then. I held my cousin’s hand. Mama kissed me and said that we would meet in 3-4 weeks. My parents had a plan on how to get out of Bochnia with the help of the Red Cross. But it turned to be the last time I saw my family. In three weeks, the final liquidation of the Bochnia ghetto took place.

When we were out of the ghetto, the man said: “You have to walk 10 meters behind me.” But it was so dark that there I couldn’t see anything. However, we managed to reach the railway station. There the man said: “I will enter one wagon, and you –  the other, so that no one will know that we are together.” And that’s exactly what we did. In Tarnów we had to wait for over 1.5 hours. We were so afraid that they would catch us. My mother bought me a big kasket so that I could hide my Jewish nose under it. At some point  Germans entered our compartment, lit the spotlights, but me and my cousin pretended to be asleep. We were lucky – they didn’t catch us.

Later the train stopped in Krynica and Piwniczna in the Tatra Mountains. It was already close to the border with Czechoslovakia, we got out there. The guide took us to the forest, where another guide was waiting for us. We crossed the border to Stara Lubownia. But our further journey to Hungary is a separate story…”

Yitzhak Teichtal in Kraków (picture taken from Yad VaShem database)
Yitzhak Teichtal in Kraków (picture taken from Yad VaShem database)

Jozef  Teichtal, son of Yutzhak, in Kraków (picture taken from Yad VaShem database)
Jozef Teichtal, son of Yutzhak, in Kraków (picture taken from Yad VaShem database)

©Anna Brzyska, 2019