David Waldshan (Dawid Waldszan) - born on the 28th of February 1928 in Białowieża, son of Benjamin and Tania. He had two sisters: Hinda and Mindel. He lived on Stoczek street number 1. His parents had a confectionery and fruit store. His family arrived to Białowieża from Prużana /Szereszów around 1925, and lived there until August 1941 when the Germans liquidated the whole Jewish population of the city, and transported several families to Kobryn. As he wrote: "In October 1941 the Judenrat (the Jewish Council ) in Kobryn informed the resettled people (including my family) that those people who had relatives in Pruzana would be allowed to move to Pruzana ghetto. Since we had relatives in Pruzana, we got a permission to leave Kobryn. I am sure that the German SS approved the relocation. (...) In January 1945 the German guards evacuated the Auschwitz camp and transported the prisoners to other concentration camps in Germany and Austria. I was among those who were taken to Mauthausen, Gusen 2 and Gunskirchen (in Austria) where I was liberated by the U.S. army on May 5, 1945. I lived in Austria for 5 years and in 1950 I immigrated to the U.S.A. I am currently married [to Sara Berman] and I have 3 children and 6 grandchildren"
On the website of the project "Still Here" by Brian Marcus, David Waldshan says: „I was miraculously pre-destined by a Higher Authority who had a purpose in His mind to save me from a living hell. The purpose is a great mystery to me. Maybe it was to bear witness and honor my towns of Bialowieza and Pruzana, Poland where 9,200 Jews, 84% of the Jewish population, perished within 4 days of the liquidation of the Pruzana ghetto”
Thanks to Brian Marcus we were able to contact David Waldshan a few days before the launch of this website.
According to the documents he gave in 1946 during the registration in the Central Comittee of Polish Jews in Bielsk Podlaski, in 1941 he found himself in Pruzhany, was relocated to Pruzhany ghetto, and in January 1943 was deported to the Concentration Camp in Auschwitz. As reported by Białowieża citizens, before he was deported to Auschwitz, he ran away from the execution of Białowieża male Jews in the Gravel Pit (Żwirownia) but was caught later. As Alexander Krawczuk said: „One of the Jews, Srul Malecki, ran away from the execution place, and survived. I talked with him after the war, and he confirmed the fact that all of the men and boys of the Jewish nationality were murdered by Germans in that gravel pit. (…) Srul Malecki left for Israel after the war. He didn't give any closer details about the execution”. Włodzimierz Dackiewicz, who worked for a year after the war with Malecki, also recalls that Malecki escaped the execution by jumping on the embankment, and that he was caught later.
In Auschwitz he was recorded on the transport which came from Pruzhany on the 30th of January 1943. He received the prisoner number 98037. He survived, and he returned to Białowieża straight after the war. He got some help from the tailor Naumnik, a friend from his apprentice days before the war. Włodzimierz Dackiewicz, who also was a tailor under Naumnik says: „Srolik Malecki came back in 1946. 180 centimetres of height, and 36 kilograms of weight. My master [Naumnik] said: „there's a room in my place, you will sleep here, and work here. I will take work from the clients, you will do it, and you will take the money for yourself.”. Srulik lived at his place and ate. When he came, he was skin and bones. Here, he got better.”
Later, according to Dackiewicz, Malecki met Sarenka. Dackiewicz mentions that Malecki and Sarenka sold some houses (the Malecki family had a number of houses in Białowieża), were married, and left for Israel.
Earlier, however, Malecki traveled to Bielsk to register himself on the 14th of July 1946 as a survivor in the Central Commitee of Polish Jews. He gave the residence address in Bielsk, on Mickiewicza 60 street, where he lived for some time before moving to Israel. We managed to track down the Israeli address of Malecki – in 1956 he lived in Ramat Gan, close to Tel Aviv. Unfortunately we weren't able to find any descendants.
Zina Buszko tells the story: "After the war one of the Jews returned, Herszko, or maybe he had a different name, I don't remember – he was a bachelor. He came back to Białowieża. He was walking together with our youth, they were friends. When someone died, he went to the chapel together with us, and when they cried, he cried, but he also cried after his people, that everybody died, that no one survived, that there's no one left in Białowieża, that all of the Jews were beaten up [killed]. Maybe he was in the army? Or maybe he was hiding out somewhere? Either way he came back here after the war, and lived here for long. And he was flirting with all of these girls, but none of them wanted to marry a Jew. He was here at least two years. And then he moved to Bielsk Podlaski. In Bielsk, he found himself a Jewish woman who had survived too. And he got married, and settled there. And when someone from Białowieża was going to Bielsk, they were going to him, like to a hotel. He was welcoming everybody, and everybody treated him like a cousin."
Leibel Feldbaum, born in 1907 in Szereszewo, son of Cyna (Tzina) and Nachman Feldbaum, lived in Białowieża with his wife Methel and kids. He was a mechanic and he had a prosperous shipping company that he was running together with an associate (name unknown). From the book of Moishe Kantorowicz, the neighbour of the Feldbaum family from Szereszewo, we even know what Leibel looked like: "Leibl was a bachelor in his mid-thirties, a broad shouldered robust man who at his age had a fair amount of life experience". From the same book we also find out that he was visiting his family in Szereszewo every few weeks. Moishe Kantorowicz describes an occurrence from the 1st of September 1939 when Leibel came to Szereszewo to inform his family about the break out of the war: "The next morning Friday, September 1, 1939, the sun shone bright in the sky. Everyone went about his or her business and did whatever they had to, but the lack of enthusiasm was visible all around. The men called up to the army were on the way to the railway station. I am sure that their families did not sleep that night and now their womenfolk were sitting home in tears. My father went to open the store at eight as usual. My mother was busying herself in the kitchen and my sister Sheva was helping her. It was too early to start visiting my friends, so I walked out into the yard. A few minutes later, I saw our neighbor's son, Leibl Feldman, pull up to his parents’ house on a bicycle, which was surprising. (...) He lived in Bialowieza where he and a partner had a trucking business. There were rumors that he was well to do. He would visit his parents in Shershev every couple of weeks, but it was not his way to come on a bicycle. He would come in one of his vehicles. I went into the house and told my mother, who was also a bit puzzled. We did not have to wait long for the reason. Within minutes, our neighbor, Leibl’s father, came in and in a quiet voice asked if any non-family members were in the house. When we assured him that there were not, he told us that his son just came from Bialowieza, which was bombarded early that morning. When Leibl wanted to take one of his vehicles to go to Shershev, the police would not allow him. They had orders to confiscate all private vehicles for the army so he came on a bicycle."
Lejb's family was deported to the Pruzhany ghetto. His wife Methel and kids died buried alive during the march to the train station, from where they were supposed to leave to Auschwitz. Leibel, together with his sister Sara from Szereszewo, left with the transport to Auschwitz on the 31st of January 1943, and arrived there on the 2nd of February 1943. He spent two years in Auschwitz and survived. After the war, he left for the United States, to find his brother Aaron Feldbaum. He re-married with a woman named Mary and they had a daughter called Tina (or Tzina, name after Lejb's mother), but he lost them too (we don't know the details). As his Białowieża family reminescences, everybody remembers Lejb as a very warm and caring person, despite his hard experiences such the murder of his parents, his wife and children by the Nazis, the Auschwitz experience and the loss of his new wife and child in the States.
Rozencwajg – a woman coming from a Jewish family in Białowieża, born in 1923 according to Nina Szpakowicz, (they were the same age). Her name is unknown. Her brother died shot by the Germans in Białowieża. Rozencwajg, thanks to her „un-jewish looks” (blonde), survived living in a village close to Siedlce, in a Catholic family, where she herded cows. After the war she returned to Białowieża for a brief moment, to sell her brother's house located on Stoczek (currently Waskiewicza number 200) to Nina Szpakowicz and her husband who were arleady living there, and then leave again.
The Central Committee of Polish Jews was registering the Jews who survived the Holocaust in Poland in 1945-1950. In the archives of the Jewish Historical Institute there are people who stated Białowieża as their place of birth and residence:
- Izrael Malecki (see above)
- Nikołaj Pstyga – born in 1922 in Białowieża, chauffer. Adress from 1st of September: Białowieża. Survived the war fttthanks to escaping to the USSR. After the war he registered at the Committee in Wrocław, in 1946. The surname „Pstyga” is familiar to the oldest citizens of Białowieża, although not as a Jewish name. Perhaps, as happened often after the war, a survivor took this surname to avoid disclosing themselves as Jewish in the post-war reality.
- Ludwik Zdaniecki, born in 1898 in Warsaw, address of residence from 1st September 1939: Białowieża. During the war he was hiding on the aryan side in Warsaw, later he found himself in France, serving in the French army between 1944-1946. He registered in the Committee in Łódź in 1946.
- The Berman’s family website: http://www.genealogy.com/ftm/f/e/l/Lisa-Feller/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0072.html
- The "Still Here" project: http://stillherebook.com/david-waldshan/
- Letters of David Waldshan to Katarzyna Winiarska from May-June 2016;
- Symcha Burnstein’s testimony, Zez. 301/1970 ŻIH Archive, 28th of October 1946, Białystok;
- Zofia Skotnicka’s testimony, Michał Romaniuk’s testimony, Lucjan Berg’s testimony (all Hajnówka inhabitants); IPN Archive Bi 1/1946;
- Włodzimierz Dackiewicz, interview by Katarzyna Winiarska, 9th of June 2015
- Włodzimierz Dackiewicz, interview by Katarzyna Winiarska 2th of July 2015;
- Włodzimierz Dackiewicz, interview by the Holocaust Museum in Washington, 11.10.1998, RG-50.488*0051
- Żydzi polscy w KL Auschwitz: wykazy imienne [Polish Jews in KL Auschwitz: name list], ed. S. Mączka, M.Prokopowicz, (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, 2004.);
- Piotr Bajko, Białowieża zarys dziejów, (Białowieża 2001);
- Aleksander Krawczuk’s testimony, IPN Archive, DS 296/68;
- Zinaida Buszko, interview by Katarzyna Winiarska, 24th of March 2016;
- The Feldbaum Family Chronicles, http://www.feldbaumfamily.net/Home.ae
- Moishe Kantorowicz, My mother's bequest: from Shershev to Auschwitz to Newfoundland, 2004, 173-174;
- Nina Szpakowicz, interview by Katarzyna Winiarska, 15th of June 2016;
- ŻIH Archive, The Registry of Jewish Survivors, CKŻP WEiS sign. 514;