Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel.
Testimony # 03/7107
Cassette # 033C/2805
           Name: Bronya (Koshitzky) Shapiro
           Date of Birth: 1910 in Sosnowiec,Poland
           Present address: 1431 58 St. N.Y. 11219 U.S.A.
Interviewer: Ronit Vilder
Date of testimony: August, 17, 1993 In Jerusalem.
Testimony's language of origin: English.
Testimony Summary:

The following is the testimony of a holocaust survivor - Bronya (Koshitzky) Shapiro. In 1929 she immigrated to Berlin, Germany. In 1938 her family was deported back to Poland. They settled in Lodz until the break of the Second World War. In December 1939 she moved to Krakow and resided there until April 1940. She moved to Debica and then for a large sum of money received permission to settle in Bzesko. After the German invasion of Russia she travel to Lvov to help friends using her German passport. She transferred a few Jewish families to different places using her German identity. In June 1942 she was caught as a spy but was released later on. A few days before the liquidation of Bzesko she managed to escape with her children and two nephews to Bochnia. In September 1942 during the big Aktion in Bochnia she was selected to work in a group of 280 people. She managed to buy work certificates for her nephews. She made an attempt to receive forged documents as foreign citizens for all her family and identified herself as such and as a result was taken to the Montelupich prison in Krakow and later to Bergen-Belsen in Germany to participate in a prisoner's exchange. ..... The part of the testimony following is the one that deals with ghetto Bochnia or aspects related to this subject.

Partial testimony (pages 23 to 30)

Interviewer: So what are you doing at that time?
B. Shapiro: I went to Bochnia with the kids and the next day was out.

Interviewer: Did you know anyone in Bochnia?
B. Shapiro: Yes. I had friends there.

Interviewer: But why did you think that if they are liquidating Tarnow and Bzesko, why wouldn't they liquidate Bochnia?
B. Shapiro: We ran.

Interviewer: You knew it is temporary?
B. Shapiro: Yes. We knew that it is temporary. Now starts the hell, how I had been staying with the kids.
1 Erev Rosh Hashanah - The Jewish New Year's eve.
2 Aktion - round up, liquidation action (German)
3 Fogelfrei - free for hunting (German), open-season, at the mercy of their killers.


Interviewer: You came to Bochnia.
B. Shapiro: On Erev Rosh Hashanah.1

Interviewer: September 42?
B. Shapiro: September. About. I have been with four kids. My children didn't need nothing. They didn't have the right to live but I had the twins. The twins, their mother and sister had been liquidated. Their father was in Israel. These girls were born on December 29 in Berlin. The age was to give them up and I didn't want. This was the last of my family. There started, you have to look for papers. You have to look for help. I tried. How was it possible to hide them? They started Aktions2 . One Aktion came. Everybody had a bunker but I didn't have where to hide with the kids. My son was really out of it. One day we had to go down to a selection with all four kids. There was me. The Sheinfeld's uncle was helping. Came Madrisch. There were two Germans - Madrisch and the other was ..... Was buried here in Jerusalem. I forgot his name now. The SS was marching. The commissar was there. I was dressed and the kids were washed and I went directly to the German commissar and told him: Listen, I am here with my kids. My family is in Israel. That was the first start with Eichmann for transfer and I don't know what shall I do. I spoke fluently in German and dressed with the kids. He said go.

Interviewer: Just like that?
B. Shapiro: Just like that. Go. I went and started right, left, left, right. So Madrisch came in and saw us. He said he wants so and so many people to work. There had to be five in a row. I had my two boys but the little one was in my arms, and two girls and myself. So we had been four. This Landau came and in the meantime I didn't know how and where and he said Koschitski come. He took my little one and we made five in a row and we marched 280 people out to leave to the Madrisch part. There are two that are still alive with us, friends. One is Moshe Bronfeld with four kids and I myself with four kids. Over 15,000 went too. This was my first survival without any documents, without nothing. Now we have to start with the girls' papers.

Interviewer: This was in Bochnia?
B. Shapiro: This was Bochnia already.

Interviewer: Where were you taken to?
B. Shapiro: To a work place and he says, this Madrisch says to us you are saved. There outside are "fogelfrei"3 . You know what it means "fogelfrei". If you are hunting, they are free. They came with bread, marmalade and (in) 68 hours we came out. We came back, it was snow, cold and we went on. (unclear) I had to start how to get permission for the girls, for work.



Interviewer: How old were they?
B. Shapiro: I told you they were born in December, 1929. This was the hardest time in the ghetto, that you had to pay a lot of money to our people to get permission for work. I started very hard. I wouldn't mention the names of those people because you know .....

Interviewer: You mean people from the Judenrat4 ?
B. Shapiro
: Not only Judenrat. Different people also. I had to pay for a permit for one of the girls. All my jewellery. I had once jewellery. I got a permit to work, for one place. The other girl, he said this is not enough money. I had to give him more money and I received a permit for the other girl.

Interviewer: You had still money from the changing?
B. Shapiro: I had jewellery. I had money. So I paid. Later, it came that they said why do you need these girls. Give them to the orphanage. I said whatever it will be, I wouldn't give the girls up. This is an interesting story. My brother-in-law was in Israel. My whole family had been in Israel. They sent out certificates. My sister-in-law was already dead. Six kids dead. It was nothing for me so I wanted the girls to send to my brother-in-law to Sosnowiec who was their uncle. He said don't do that. I don't want to take the girls but I will give you an advice if you could try, maybe you could have a connection to Tarnow police about Miriam's certificate because there had been sent out a lot of certificates and there have been people taken with these papers. As soon as they came in Krakow to the headquarters, they have been right away killed. They said: Jew, where did you buy this paper? So three or four parts have been killed already. But my brother-in law said try and maybe you could reach something. I will send you a birth certificate from my sister-in law from Sosnowiec. She was born there. She was older. You could try maybe you could have any connection with this. If you want, I had to write to Berlin to people who worked for us until that time too. They sent birth certificates for these two girls and the birth certificate of my sister-in-law that I had to be. There has been one son and six girls and her picture. Here I have two boys and only two girls. I have to try to get a connection with the Gestapo in Tarnow. What could you do? This was December, January and every day was terrible because they changed the places from work and took down, took down.

Interviewer: At that time you worked?
B. Shapiro: I worked. I worked where the girls worked but the boys, I had to hide.

Interviewer: What did you do?
B. Shapiro: I worked in the factory that whatever from the Russian front, of the Germans, that came with the sweaters and stockings from the dead soldiers, we had to finish and to work. Other people worked with other things. We worked. We had work. This was till that time.

Interviewer: You earned a few zloty?
B. Shapiro: No. We got only bread cards. No money. So what was? I had to inquire what could be. I went once. We are very religious. In Tarnow was still that time .....

4 Judenrat - Jewish community council (German)


Interviewer: You could keep religious at that time? You could keep kosher and so on?
B. Shapiro: I tell you, I kept kosher the whole war. The whole concentration time, I didn't eat in the kettle, nothing. What happened? I knew that one of the Boyana rebbes is in Tarnow. You know Boyan? This is the Rijaner. This was the greatest. They were friends of ours. I asked what shall I do. Shall I try? I got these papers from my sister-in-law. The answer was the Lord is all around. I went in ..... This is a funny story. I had some gold coins and I went in to the Commissar from Bochnia and I got his assistant Konalski. They called him a Volksdeutsche5 . I came in as a Jew and I asked him what he would advise. I had five or six gold coins and I put it like this, sitting on the table like that. What would you advise me? I am here. My family is there. If I could get papers to get, not arrested but to go a camp for changing. They call it Oustauch. He said: I will tell you something. Here it is not good but if you could go to this camp, it might be easier for you. So I said I don't know where this and this papers should be and I don't know where they are. They started to look for that paper. To Tarnow, to make connection from there. I gave him all the names that I had. What shall I tell you? A few weeks later ...... This was already January, February, they started to look for the papers. Two weeks before was a transport for changing, for Israel, taken to the prison Montelupich, 84 people killed. I had two faces. My picture, my sister-in-law, the two girls.

Interviewer: There was a resemblance between you and your sister-in-law?
B. Shapiro: No. I will bring you the picture. I will bring you the two pictures. Mine and hers. What shall I do? How shall I act? I wanted to save the girls. For me, I had Aryan papers but I have two boys and you know how they checked the boys, Jewish boys. I had this and that. In your mind, I don't know. But check my situation there. I decided, I told the girls start to cry. There have been machers (matchers)6 , a lot of machers and they wanted money, I gave money but they said Koschitska, why do you need the girls. Give them to the orphanage. They started to cry. I took them by the hand and I said: Kinders7 , (in German) I don't give up.

Interviewer: What happens with me, happens with you.
B. Shapiro: Yes. I don't give them up. Once they came and said I should give all the details. I gave all the details. This is when they started with Eichmann again. They came in and said that they take me with my kids to the prison but the story how I came to Jerusalem for the wedding from Belz8 ...... This is something that I wanted you to hear. We have been Redomska Hasidim9 . I am from a very religious family. I didn't know Belz. Bochnia ghetto, what is history, had two ghettos. I myself was in a ghetto A.

Interviewer: The ghetto with the people who worked?
B. Shapiro: Yes. Ghetto B was without work. Ghetto B didn't get food. It was open every day an hour from twelve to one. I wasn't very rich but I knew the situation. Every day as long as I was in Bochnia, I
5 Volksdeutsche - a Polish citizen of a German descent.
6 Matcher - mediator
7 Kinders - children (German)
8 Belz - reference to the Hassidic movement of Belz.
9 Redomska Hassidim - members of the Hassidic movement of Radom.


went to the Ghetto B and shared my food with people. Not with all people, but with people. One fellow who was also one that came from Israel and became very ill in Bochnia, he was from Sanok. Feibush, I remember the name. Once I came in and he was so sick and so hungry and he caught my hand and kissed it. He said Koschitska, I dreamed that I saw you marching in Tel Aviv with the kids. Once I went to a house that I met a fellow that had a kid for nine months, survived from Krakow and these kids had been hiding under the stove from a bakery and we met each other and we became very friendly. He was a Belz Hassid. We became very friendly. In April, in the end of April, 43, I was in ghetto, on Kowalska 14. Somebody after midnight, 1:30 after midnight is knocking at my door. I got scared. I asked who is this? He said: the Bilger rov10 . I didn't know the name at that time. I knew Belz. Koschitska, open the door. He said: Koschitska,

Interviewer: The rabbi wants you to come with the children.
B. Shapiro: Right away with the kids. I waked the kids and I came down where he was. I met this fellow, Zinger, with his kids and a girl. The Bilgerei was accompanying me and I started to cry. I said: Rebbe, please give me a blessing for good generations. So this Zinger said: Koschitska, are you crazy? Now you wish generations? He put his hands on my two sons and a blessing. And the girls, a blessing. So this same Zinger said: Koschitzka, you are drafted. The rebbe gave a blessing. The next morning, the Belzer left for Hungary. For us, the next week, the Germans want us for the exchange with Germans. We didn't know what it is. We were arrested and taken to Montelupich11 , to the prison. A few times daily, with the face to the wall. We met there a few other people that had been in Tarnow for the exchange. This was the end of May. Pesach12 we spent in Montelupich.

Interviewer: It was a Prison but for you it was as a waiting for the exchange?
B. Shapiro: We don't know what it was because I told you, four times or five times they killed because they compared the faces and they said Jew, where did you buy this, where did you take this? We were in prison. It was May, June, through the first days of July. Fifth or sixth of July, they came in and said they are taking us to Bergen-Belsen. There might be an exchange.


Mrs. Bronya (Koshitzky) Shapiro's testimony covers developments in ghetto Bochnia during the period of September 11, 1942 to the end of April 1943. The witness was present during the selection of the second aktion that took place in November 1942. She was taken with a group of 280 people to the workshop of Madrisch to ensure their existance. According to her testimony 15,000 more people were spared from this selection. That number does not make any sence since so many people did not reside in the ghetto at any given time. It must be a typo and the number mentioned should have been 1,50013 people only.

That will bring the number of people taken to Belzec on the second aktion to approximately 2000 people.
10 Bilger rov, or the Belzer - The Rabbi of Belz, the head of the Belz Hassidic movement. (Jewish).
11 Montelupich - a large prison complex located in the city of Krakow.
12 Pesach - Pass-over (Hebrew)
13 The term fifteen hundred is not used very often in Israel. The number 1,500 is related to as one thousand and five hundred. It is more than likely that on the recorded tape the witness mentioned fifteen hundred and the person typing her testimony understood it as 15,000.


   Go to