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Joseph Komito memoir

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 1997.A.0299

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    The Joseph Komito memoir is a typewritten memoir of Joseph Komito in which he describes life in Mielec, Poland, before and during the German occupation; his experiences as a forced laborer first in an unnamed airplane factory and later in Wieliczka, Auschwitz, Flossenbürg, and Leitmeritz concentration camps; and his postwar life in the United States.
    Collection Creator
    Joseph Komito
    Joseph Komito (1926-2018) was born in 1926 in Mielec, Poland to Ester and Marcus Shoenfeld. The Shoenfelds had seven children: Lyla Shoenfeld (b. 1922); Rosse Schoenfeld (b. 1924); Joseph Shoenfeld (b. 1926); Anschel Shoenfeld (b. 1928); Szachne Schoenfeld (b. 1930); two unidentified brothers and one unidentified sister (b. 1932, 1934, and 1936). Due to anti-German sentiments, the children were registered in school under their mother’s maiden name, Komito. Marcus Shoenfeld worked as a butcher and Joseph was apprenticed as a tailor. After the invasion of Poland, German soldiers occupied Mielec, Poland. Afterwards, Marcus Shoenfeld was forbidden from running his butcher shop, but continued to butcher animals in secret which he sold or traded for food. On March 9, 1942, in the middle of the night, the Shoenfeld family was rounded-up with the other Jewish families of Mielec. Rosse Shoenfeld, who was able to pass as Aryan due to her blue eyes and blond hair, escaped the round-up. They were marched to the airport, Berdechuow, about 8-10 miles away, and anyone not able to keep pace was shot. Joseph, who was assumed to be older than his age, was separated from the rest of his family. He and eighty men were sent to work in an airplane factory adjacent to the airport. Only twelve men survived the war, including Joseph. At the KL, Joseph worked as a gardener and later in the Jewish kitchen were the food for prisoners was prepared. At one point, he was punished for stealing food from the kitchens. In June 1944, the prisoners were sent to the Wieliczka salt mines, to Auschwitz concentration camp, and Flossenbürg concentration camp. Joseph was at Flossenbürg for three-four weeks before being sent to the Leitmeritz concentration in Czechoslovakia where he dug a tunnel into a mountain. In October or November 1944 the project was abandoned and 800 prisoners were sent to the Dachau concentration camp. Joseph was liberated from a train in either April or May 1945, weighing 90 pounds. After liberation, Joseph lived in the Feldafing displaced persons camp, Pasink, and later Munich, Germany. In 1947, Joseph immigrated to the United States and lived in Chicago and later New York City with relatives. While visiting Pine Hill, New Jersey Joseph met Jessie DeYoung. She converted to Judaism and they were married by a Reform Rabbi on May 5, 1955. They had five children. Joseph Komito died on April 5, 2018.
    Rosse Schoefeld escaped the initial round-up of the Mielec Jews. She joined the Polish Resistance, and was able to visit her brother Joseph in the Mielec KL using forged papers stating that she was on an inspection visit. At one point, she urged Joseph and other prisoners to escape, but the prisoners refused knowing that escape meant death to those left behind. Eventually, Rosse was captured by the Gestapo, tortured, and killed.
    All other members of Joseph’s immediate family were sent from the initial round-up in Meilec to the Treblinka killing center, where they perished.

    Physical Details

    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The Joseph Komito memoir is arranged in a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    The donor, source institution, or a third party has asserted copyright over some or all of these material(s). The Museum does not own the copyright for the material and does not have authority to authorize use. For permission, please contact the rights holder(s).

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Mielec (Poland) Poland.

    Administrative Notes

    Joseph Komito sent his memoir to the Registry of Holocaust Survivors; the date of receipt is unknown. The Registry transferred it to the Archives in Sept. 1997.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2024-05-21 14:53:21
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