17.01.2024 | Redaktor

Moshe Gross, doctor in the Brzesko ghetto

On November 22, 1940, the Jewish Council in Brzesko published an announcement about the search for a doctor in the “Gazeta Żydowska” (“Jewish newspaper”).

Announcement in the “Jewish newspaper” about the search for a doctor for the Jewish community in Brzesko. This newspaper was published in Krakow during the occupation, from July 23, 1940 to August 30, 1942. Photo from https://cbj.jhi.pl/documents/789030/0/

Doctor Moshe (Maurycy) Gross responded to this appeal. Moshe Gross, son of Markus Hirsch Gross and Róża nee Bornstein, was born in Kraków on August 19, 1909. He studied medicine in the Jagellonian University in Kraków and having completed his studies, he opened a medical practice in his hometown.

In February 1941, Dr Gross still lived in Kraków on Miodowa Street with his wife Złata née Weinstein, parents, brother Izak Natan and his family: wife Jochwet and children Israel Emanuel (born in 1930), Szymon (born in 1935). ) and Dorotha (born in 1938). Moshe Gross moved to Brzesko because he was hoping that it would be easier to survive in a small town.

The form filled by Moshe (Maurycy) Gross in the beginning of 1941, when he was still living together with his entire family at Miodowa street in Kraków. Photos from USHMM database

Dr Gross managed to survive the war; in 1958, he submitted his testimony to Yad Vashem, and due to this document we can learn what life in the Bresko ghetto and his work as a doctor looked like.

“There was no Jewish doctor in Brzesko, and German laws forbade Jews to be treated by Polish doctors. Moreover, in Brzesko and the surrounding villages there was an epidemic of typhus, both among Jews and the Polish peasantry, and the German authorities designated the Jewish hospital in Brzesko for general infectious disease hospital, thus protecting Aryan hospitals from the plague. I was appointed the head of this hospital.

Before the war, Brzesko had approximately 2,000 Jewish inhabitants; at the time when the Krakow ghetto was created, this number increased by about 1,000 people, recruited from Krakow Jews who were afraid to be locked the ghetto.

In the spring of 1942, the previously open Brzesko ghetto was closed. I survived two extermination operations in Brzesko and escaped in the fall of 1942, two days before the final liquidation. I worked in the hospital until the end…

The second action began with the appearance of 8 trucks at one o’clock in the afternoon. One had the SS. They started shooting people on the streets, whoever they could reach… I escaped to a bunker I had previously prepared. I stayed in this hiding place with my wife for two days. After leaving, I was forced to issue death certificates for all murdered Jews, identify the partially decomposing bodies and certify that they died of various diseases. I walked among the corpses and had to diversify death certificates…

The third action took place before Rosh Hashana, it was liquidation” (Yad Vashem archive, testimony of Moshe Gross, #3557831)

The building that housed the Jewish hospital in Brzesko during the war.

This hospital, managed by Dr. Gross, was located in the building at the corner of today’s Żwirki i Wigury Square and Uczestników Ruchu Oporu street. In Burlikowski’s “Chronicles of the Town of Brzesko” there is a shocking testimony of how the Germans murdered hospital patients during the action on June 18, 1942: “They did not spare anyone. They murdered mothers with children, they shot women expecting children, the elderly, everyone without exception…”

Moshe survived the war. He escaped from the Brzesko ghetto two days before its final liquidation. He was hiding on Aryan papers in various towns, and in 1944, after a very long and complicated journey, he managed to get to Palestine. Only his wife managed to escape together with him. All his other relatives were murdered. A few documents and photos – that’s all what remained of them.

Father of Moshe Gross, Markus Hirsch Gross, 1940.
Mother of  Moshe Gross, Róża Gross nee  Bornstein, 1940.
Brother of  Moshe Grossa, Izak Natan Gross, 1940.
Sister-in-law of  Moshe Gross, Jochwet Gross, 1940. Photos from the website  https://cbj.jhi.pl/

“I keep seeing their faces…”

Moshe Gross lived and worked as a gynecologist in Tel Aviv. He was very reluctant to talk about his experiences during the war. He believed that “revisiting these memories is an unnecessary nerve racking; neither the hecatombs of millions of victims nor the efforts to exhaustively describe the history of crimes and martyrdom will stop humanity from going through the next round” (from the testimony in Yad Vashem). He died in 1959 and is buried in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv.

The grave of Moshe Gross. Photo from  https://bezikaron.co.il

© Anna Brzyska, 2024