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June 1: Zvi Dunski and the Resistance in Sosnowiec

May 31, 2016

RetrieveAssetAs the Nazi liquidation of the Sosnowiec Ghetto in Poland began on this date in 1943, it was met with an earnest but poorly armed resistance that had been organized by Zvi Dunski, a young Hashomer Hatzair (Socialist Zionist) activist. According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Dunski, born in 1922, “played a central role in the Jewish underground in Sosnowiec. Together with Mordechai Anielewicz [commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April, 1943], who spent several months in the Zaglebie area, Tzvi organized the youth into cells of resistance fighters and issued an underground newspaper called Przelom [Turning Point]. Tzvi headed efforts to collect weapons, build bunkers and prepare reprisal actions.... [until] a crackdown by the local Gestapo on Jewish resistance activity forced Tzvi to go into hiding. His mother and sister Sala were arrested as hostages and imprisoned for three weeks. Eventually, Tzvi was caught by the Jewish police and turned over to the Gestapo.... His mother and Sala were taken by private car to Auschwitz, where they were killed. Genia also perished in Auschwitz at a later time. Frania, the only member of the family to survive the war, was imprisoned in a series of labor camps.” “Even though Zvi was singled out for especially cruel punishment,” write Edward Gastfriend and Björnn Krondorfer in My Father’s Testament: Memoir of a Jewish Teenager, 1938-45, “and then taken to a prison in Katowice, where he was tortured again and eventually beheaded, he never betrayed anyone. The Germans could not rob him of his humanity and dignity. He was a true hero.”

“Under the leadership of Zvi Dunsky, Lippa Mintz, Heller Schnitzer, and Joseph Kosak, the Sosnowiec [underground] group aimed at a genuine resistance, maintaining communications with Warsaw. They printed circulars... and posted on walls, manifestos against the regime and the Judenrat. They even plotted to kill [its president] Moshe Merin. Merin was busy too. He set up a network of spies, who infiltrated the organization and reported back to him. As soon as he had enough names, he made his move. He rounded up all the resistance people and had them transferred to camps in Germany. Thus our first attempt to organize an uprising locally was shattered in its inception.” —Chava Kwinta, I’m Still Living