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March 18: Death of a Ghetto Courier

March 18, 2014
currier18b0000029928_1_webLeah-Lonka Kozibrodska, who worked as a courier between Polish ghettos for the Socialist Zionist movement, using the pseudonyms Krystyna Kossowska and Barbara Anne Biernacka, died of typhus in Auschwitz on this date in 1943. Kozibrodska was born in Pruszkow in 1916. In 1939 she joined the Freiheit youth movement. Kozibrodska was arrested while trying to flee to the Soviet zone of occupied Poland, but was released thanks to her “Aryan” appearance. She then became a courier. “Two of the most successful couriers, Bella Hazan and Lonka Kozibrodska,” according to Lenore J. Weitman in Lessons and Legacies VI: New Currents in Holocaust Research, “were caught because Lonka was smuggling guns. Although everyone assumed that Bella and Lonka could talk their way out of any difficulty, when the police suspected Lonka’s ghetto-made papers, they searched her and found four pistols. When they caught Bela as well, they tortured them to make them disclose the source of their weapons. Neither Bela nor Lonka broke. They were both able to maintain their Aryan cover, and neither one was unmasked as a Jew.” Bella survived the war. in the photo at right, three couriers (l-r) Tema Schneiderman, Bella, and Lonka. They were photographed at the end of 1942 before they left Bialystok on a mission. “Their performances saved Bela’s life because they were sent to Auschwitz as Poles, while they would have been shot if they were known to be Jews.” —Lenore J. Weitzman