Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel.
Testimony # 03/1383
Archives # 931/76-K
Name: Dr. Korenhauser Stefan
Date of Birth: 1914 in Krakow, Poland
Present address: 5 Jabotinsky St., Tel-Aviv, Israel
Interviewer: M. Lustgarten
Date of testimony: July, 10, 1959
Testimony's language of origin: Polish.
Translation and commentary by: I. Zelinkovsky
The following is the testimony of a holocaust survivor - Dr. Korenhauser Stefan. In this testimony the witness tells about a Jewish hospital which existed in ghetto Bochnia, Poland during the second world war. The escape from the ghetto/ a Polish refugees camp in Hungary/ Escape from Hungary to Czechoslovakia/ A battle field hospital of the Slovakian rebels/ Generosity of an SS man/ and hiding in the mountains with the surviving rebels. The part of the testimony following is the one that deals with ghetto Bochnia or aspects related to this subject.
|Partial testimony (pages
1 to 11)
A Jewish Hospital in Ghetto Bochnia
The Jewish hospital was erected at the end of 1941 by the Germans as an epidemic hospital for the treatment of typhoid patients. According to the Germans the Jews were the source of all diseases in the world. Reality showed that from the day the hospital established 44 out of 45 beds were occupied by Aryans.
The hospital's director was Dr. Anatol Gutfreund, who prior to the war ran his own private clinic in Krynica, and I was his deputy. Among the staff there was a medical student named Schonfeld from Czechoslovakia. After the deportation from Czechoslovakia he resided in Bochnia and got killed during the war. The staff included a head nurse Mrs. Deutscher from the eastern territories, three female nurses, three male nurses and a cook. None of them survived the war. We did not have any Jewish surgeons and in the hospital there was no surgeon and no surgery room. In emergencies a Polish surgeon from the Aryan section of Bochnia was brought in and he operated on an office desk in primitive conditions. In the hospital there were no appropriate tools to perform surgeries.
In time there were no more epidemic ailments and the hospital turned
into a general hospital. During all its existence there was only one case
of birth in the hospital. I want to emphasize that Jewish women were forbidden
to get pregnant and bear children. This case was obviously handled without
the knowledge of the German authorities. Every few months the hospital was
inspected by German medical council. They used to search in the basement
but never entered the wards out of fear of catching a contagious disease.
Medications we used to get from the J.o.i.n.t. through the distribution center
in Krakow. These medicines were sent by Jewish organizations from abroad
and the center was
|distributing them to different hospitals and Jewish clinics. Ghetto
Bochnia was divided into two sections: ghetto "A" for working Jews and ghetto
"B" for non working Jews. The hospital was located in ghetto "A" on SolnaGora
St. In ghetto "B" there was only a clinic that operated two hours a day.
After the ghetto was sealed there were no more Polish patients in the hospital. During the first liquidation in August 1942 the Germans proclaimed that all Jews who failed to obtain a special validity stamp on their work certificate have to report at the military base in Bochnia. They specified that the hospital is exempt and as a result many Jews who wanted to avoid deportation were admitted to the hospital as patients. Among them was the mother of the hospital director Dr. Gutfreund. Obviously the Germans did not keep their promise. On the day of the Aktion they took all the patients from the hospital. These patients were not taken to the military base but to a nearby forest where they were all shot to death. All the hospital staff obtained the validity stamp on their work certificate allowing them to remain in the ghetto. In spite of that the people with the validated documents were told to report to the military base. There a selection was carried out and 50% of them were added to the transport. Upon completion of the first Aktion from 5000 Jews only 500 remained in the ghetto. Some Jews were hung after the Aktion when they were identified as escapees from other towns.
I would like to mention here a German man named Kurzbach. Every day he used to take Jews from the ghetto to work in his workshop and in the evenings he brought them back to the ghetto. During the Aktion he kept all his Jewish workers in the workshop and even the workers' families were brought there as well. I know that this German was participating in a German underground organization and a Jewish kappo informed the authorities about him. His fate is unknown and there were many rumors about it. The amount of Jewish collaborators with the German authorities was very limited in Bochnia. One day arrived at Bochnia a Jew who served as a German agent. On the pathway between ghetto "A" to ghetto "B" he was strangled to death. This action was preplanned and it was done in such a way that the Germans did not even realize that it was committed. There was a very active German agent in ghetto Bochnia called Reich Alfred who came originally from Krakow. He was a member of the Ordnungsdienscie organization (the Jewish police) and acted against the Jews. I was informed that the Jeudenrat bribed German police officers and while they were drunk they shot Reich Alfred to death in the Jewish cemetery.
The head of the Judenrat in Bochnia was Mr. Symcha Weis. He survived the war but passed away two years ago in Belgium. Among the members of the Judenrat were the brother of Gutfreund, the director of the Jewish hospital, Richter, Rosenowa and others. The head of the Ordnungsdienstu (the Jewish police) was Dr. Rosen who was a lawyer from Bochnia.
The second Aktion took place in November 1942. During this Aktion all
the patients in the hospital were shot in their beds. Before this Aktion
I escaped out of the ghetto and hid with my family in the Aryan section.
When I returned after the Aktion to the hospital I saw only blood puddles
on the beds. Upon
|completion of this Aktion a labor camp was formed in Kowalska St.,
Solna Gora St. and part of Kraszewska St. At this time the division of ghetto
Bochnia to ghetto "A" and ghetto B took place. There was more freedom in
ghetto "B" and the guard was not as heavy. It was easier to get out from
ghetto "B" into the Aryan section of the city.
Escape from the
In the middle of 1943 we heard rumors about the possibility of crossing the border to Hungary. My mother in law, Helena Lichtig, used to own a fruit processing factory at Czerwienc St. in Bochnia before the war. While residing in the ghetto she still worked in this factory and she had a special permit card to exit the ghetto and move freely in the Aryan section of the town. My mother-in-law started to explore the possibility of a move to Hungary. She began to organize an escape from the ghetto. A cousin of mine, an engineer from Krakow named Stefan Kornhauser, had Aryan documents. He owned a truck and used to transport people from Bochnia to the Slovakian border. This truck was arranged like a bunker. Which means that wooden planks were laid on the truck's platform (truck bed) attached to the side walls (the wooden planks were raised from the floor) on which construction materials were loaded. People were transported lying down under the construction materials. My cousin was travelling beside the driver and was of course equipped with the appropriate permit documents allowing him to transport his cargo (construction materials). Stefan eventually managed to escape to Hungary by himself. He survived the war but passed away two years ago in the United States.
Prior to our escape we obtained citizenship papers from Paraguay which
allowed us to move about in the Aryan section freely without the arm band
(identification as a Jew). One evening my wife and I exited the ghetto and
we arrived at my mother- in- law's factory. There waited my mother- in- law
and the luggage which was prepared ahead of time. Five more people joined
us later among them was a three year- old child. At one o'clock at night
my cousin arrived with his truck and let all of us (8 people) into the bunker
truck. At one thirty we were on the move in a laying position through the
whole way. Suddenly we heard the call Halt (stop in German). It turned out
the a group of German soldiers needed a ride. They entered the truck and
sat on top of the construction materials and we were lying underneath them.
We continued our way accompanied by the Germans for more than an hour. The
young child was given a sleeping pill prior to our trip and he slept through
the whole way. It was the Molkner family, father, mother and their son. At
dusk, about 5 a.m. we arrived at the town of Osielec near Jordanow.
|In Osielec we waited until dusk then a guide arrived and led us
through the night to the Slovakian border. At about 2 to 3 a.m. he handed
us over to the Slovakian guides. These guides led us up to the road passed
Jablonka and left us there to face our own fate. Immediately after the
disappearance of the guides we were surrounded by Slovakian police who took
us to the police building. Later we found out that the whole Slovakian police
force was paid off by Jewish organizations from Sweden. The officers searched
us and held us for a short time. The head of the local police force issued
the command to feed us and we were taken to prison in the town of Terstena.
The local Jews helped us and brought us food in prison. 24 hours later we
were transferred to prison in Liptovsky Svaty Mikolasz where the allegation
papers against us were presented. I submitted my reasons for my escape from
Poland but as instructed by the guides I left one dollar in my pocket and
as a result was punished for possession of foreign currency. The verdict
was 24 to 48 hours imprisonment. I was released later after I signed a commitment
to leave the Slovakian territory. I remained in this town a few more days
and then with the help of Jewish organization I was transferred to Preszew
on the Hungarian border.
In a Polish refugees camp in
As a physician I received three salaries. One from the Polish organization, one from the Hungarian authorities and one from the Red Cross. All together I made 500 penges a month and for this amount I could have lived wonderfully. I lived there without any worry and was not lacking a thing.
This camp did not resemble a refugee camp. We used to reside in different
apartments with local families and the treatment from the local authorities
and the Hungarian population was bearable. I lived in this village from Sep.
1st 1943 to Apr. 19th 1944. Every one knew me by my Aryan name Dr. Lacheta
Ignacy. The Polish organization gave me this name in order to confuse the
Hungarian authorities. From the day the Germans entered Hungary in 1944 we
started to search for ways to get out of the country. Now we had to obtain
Hungarian documents. One of our friends Jozef Tepper who came from the town
of Stryj (Poland) provided us with the required documents. He resided with
the city hall guard in Szakmar and he had access to the city hall building.
One day during lunch, when all the staff left the building Tepper and I went
there. Tepper entered through the window and stole 20 to 25 Hungarian
identification documents and at the same time stamped them all with the official
city seal. I was standing outside on guard at the time. These documents were
given to Jews in the camp. On the next day I left the camp and set sail on
the river Dunaj to the city of Budapest. There I searched for contacts that
would help me to exit Hungary. There were two possibilities: one to go to
Rumania and the other to go to Slovakia. We chose the way to
|The escape from Hungary to
We crossed the Slovakian border with the help of a guide who gave us train tickets to the town of Mikulasz. We were 13 people on the train. One of us by mistake submitted a Hungarian ticket to the conducter insted of a Slovakian one. The conductor realized immediately that something was wrong and handed us over to the police in the town of Wrotkach located near our next train stop. One of us managed to slip away from the police and arrived at Mikulasz. On the way to the police headquarters we gave the officers two watches (as a bribe). After a short interrogation when the local police commander found out that we were Polish Jews and not Hungarian Jews he ordered to send us back to the train station. The Slovaks treated Hungarian Jews worse than Polish Jews. Meanwhile our train had proceeded on its way and we were left at the station. We were taken to a hotel awaiting the next train. During that time our friend managed to reach Mikulasz and informed the local Jewish organization about us being held by the police. Telephone calls and negotiations with the police took place. A few police men arrived at our hotel and returned the watches. They were afraid of being accused of taking bribes. We left on the next train to Mikulasz accompanied by police officers that were there supposedly to prevent us from being arrested again. We of course did not have a clue of what was going on behind the scenes. Upon arrival to Mikulasz the Slovak police was waiting for us at the train station but we managed to elude them. My wife and I proceeded to the designated gathering place.
In the rebels'