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Tadeusz Pankiewicz - Cracow

Film | Accession Number: 1996.166 | RG Number: RG-60.5014 | Film ID: 3220

Tadeusz Pankiewicz was a Pole who ran a pharmacy within the confines of the Krakow ghetto, refusing the Germans' offer to let him relocate to another part of the city. He aided Jews by providing free medication and allowing the pharmacy to be used as a meeting place for resisters.

FILM ID 3220 -- Camera Rolls #1-2, 3-4, and 5-7
01:00:09 CR 1,2: Lanzmann and Pankiewicz stand in a Krakow street. They spend most of the interview in different parts of the Plac Zgody (now Plac Bohakerow Getta), from which Jews were deported from the Krakow ghetto. They begin walking. Pankiewicz tells Lanzmann that in 1941 he got the order to run a pharmacy within the ghetto. The Germans first required him to prove that he was not Jewish. From the window of his pharmacy he could see all the deportations from Plac Zgody and the horrible treatment meted out to the Jews. Lanzmann asks Pankiewicz to describe exactly what he saw. They are standing on Targowa street, the street where the Jews were gathered for deportation, and where Pankiewics's pharmacy was situated. White screen with some audio from 01:03:16 to 01:04:02. The first slate says "Warsaw" but the interview is clearly in Krakow. CR 2 Lanzmann and Pankiewicz are sitting outdoors on a bench on Plac Lwowska in front of a constuction site (construction of a tram line?). Lanzmann says that an Aryan-run pharmacy in the ghetto was one of a kind. Pankiewicz says that he lived at the Apotheke, because he had to be available day and night. He says that after the liquidation [in March 1943], when the Jews would come from Plaszow, his pharmacy acted as a restaurant, supplying food to them. He talks about the division of the ghetto into two parts, part A (where those still capable of work lived) and part B (where those to be deported lived). He describes the barbed wire surrounding the ghetto and the guarded gates at the edges. Lanzmann asks him to describe the "Grosse Aktion" on the Plac Zgody. Pankiewicz says that Plac Zgody was the main deportation point and that he saw many terrible things from the window of his pharmacy. Lanzmann asks whether the Jews were hopeless and Pankiewicz says they were resigned. He says that when the liquidation came he himself did not eat for three days: he could not go out and he had always eaten in a Jewish restaurant. Pankiewicz says that during the first deportation, in June 1941, the Jews thought that they were being resettled in the Ukraine. However, by the time of the October 28, 1942 deportation the Jews knew that deportation meant death. A woman had written a letter to her relatives, telling them that she was in Belzec. Shots of people walking through the construction site. No audio. 01:16:08. Close-up of sign reading 17 Plac Zgody . Another plaque, perhaps commemorating the location.

02:00:00 CR 3,4: Long shot of the pharmacy. The camera pulls in to reveal Pankiewicz standing outside the pharmacy in a white coat. The pharmacy was located on Targowa Street. Close-ups of Pankiewicz. Shots of Pankiewicz inside the pharmacy. The slate now reads "Krakow." Lanzmann asks Pankiewicz why he wrote a book about his experiences. Pankiewicz says that he wanted to answer the many questions that were put to him after the war, to explain why he was not liquidated himself, and to tell those who had no contact with the ghetto what it was like. A confusing passage about Germans who were arrested immediately after the liquidation of the ghetto and about rescuing some Jews. Pankiewicz talks again about how he sold food, not medicine, to the Jewish laborers from Plaszow, because they were healthy but wanted food. Pankiewicz says that he had Jewish friends even before the war and that he only thinks in terms of good people and bad people, not Jew and non-Jew. He talks about the establishment of the ghetto and his reaction to it (the dates he uses are not consistent). He says he and his family had lived in the location where the ghetto was established, and he talks about hiding Jews in his room during the ghetto's liquidation (or during a deportation?). He says he received a letter from a woman in Israel who claimed to have hidden in the pharmacy, but he did not remember her. Lanzmann asks him about suicide in the ghetto. Pankiewicz says that there were some who did commit suicide, once they knew they were going to be deported. He says that the Jews knew what deportation/evacuation meant and so did he. News and letters came from Belzec. Lanzmann asks him why, in his opinion, if the Jews knew what would happen to them, did they not resist? He says the Jews thought that maybe they would actually survive, that the situation was not as bad as it was in Warsaw. He said many of the Jews had connection to the Polish side and were not as isolated as Warsaw Jews were. He said Jews could leave the ghetto at times but had no place to go. Helping Jews was an automatic death sentence, and the Jews often wanted to take their entire families with them.

03:00:00 CR 5, 6, 7: Pankiewicz knew of several cases where Poles helped Jews after the liquidation of the ghetto, but it was not possible to help entire families. Lanzmann asks Pankiewicz again why he thought the Jews did not fight when they were deported. He says he is not speaking of the Jewish resistance, but of the people who were trapped in the ghetto and deported. Pankiewicz say that the Jews were so resigned, had been through so much terror and horror, that they simply wanted an end. He says that if a wife was deported a husband and children might follow voluntarily. Yet at the same time the Jews maintained some small hope that they might not be murdered, might be able to help each other survive. Lanzmann asks about the role of the Jewish police. He says that there were good and bad police and gives an example of two policemen who he knew in school and who helped him to smuggle a Jew out of Krakow. He talks about various members of the Jewish Council, including Rosenzweig. Lanzmann points out that they were all liquidated in the end. Lanzmann asks again whether his burden was too much to bear during these times. Pankiewicz says no, although he was so bound up with the Jews, that he believed that what happened to them would also happen to him. He says that the Jews have built him up into a kind of legend, but it is not true. He did not know at the time what he was doing, he simply did it. Lanzmann asks him whether he was married at the time and he says no. He says he had dealings with only a few Germans. A new reel begins and Pankiewicz returns to the fact that the Jews have built a small legend out of him, but that he only did what one human should do for other humans who were in a tragic situation. 03:15:02 - 03:17:02 various shots of Pankiewicz.

Event Date
March/April 1979 (Pologne II)
Krakow, Poland
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem
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Record last modified: 2018-03-07 13:22:43
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