- Interview Summary
- Rivka Liebeskind Kuper (née Shpiner), born in Rzeszów, Poland, describes growing up in Krakow, Poland in a traditional and Zionist family; being active in the Hanoar Hatzioni movement; finishing high school and going to work for the Akiva movement in Warsaw, Poland; meeting her future husband, Aharon Liebeskind, as well as Shimshon Drenger and Tzvi Yaffe; being sent to Bydgoszcz, Poland to open a branch office for the movement; being in Krakow when the Germans invaded Poland; her experiences during the invasion; the creation of a ghetto in 1940 and conditions there; organizing events in the ghetto; the underground activities of Shimshon Draenger and Gusta Dawidson Draenger (Justyna); the movement of Jews from Warsaw to the Krakow ghetto; the major deportations of Jews beginning in 1942; her brother saving their parents from expulsion; being informed by Manik Eisenshtadt about what happened to deported Jews; the Jewish resistance and militarization of the resistance movement and training with weapons on a farm in Kopaliny, Poland; the organization if the underground group, dividing up work details and organizing resistance in other ghettos; being imprisoned in Montelupich Prison from November 1942 to January 1943; being transferred to Auschwitz in January 1943; Gusta Dawidson Draenger’s educational activities for the movement; receiving a heroism cross from Poland (“Order Wojenny Virtuti Militari”) in 1965 (she returned the cross when the Polish embassy after it cut off relations with Israel on the eve of the Six Days War); being part of the underground movement in Auschwitz; being sent Reichenbach (or possibly Reichenau); being sent to work in a Telefunken factory; being liberated and sent on the Bernadotte transport (a Red Cross transport headed by Count Folke Bernadotte) to Copenhagen, Denmark; and going by ferry to Sweden.
- Rivka Liebeskind
- Dr. Eli Pfefferkorn
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, United States Holocaust Memorial Council
9 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Rights & Restrictions
- Conditions on Access
- There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Keywords & Subjects
- Topical Term
- Holocaust survivors--Israel. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Poland--Personal narratives. Identification cards--Forgeries--Poland. Jewish ghettos--Poland--Kraków. Jewish women in the Holocaust. Jews--Poland--Kraków. Order Virtuti Militari. World War, 1939-1945--Participation, Female. World War, 1939-1945--Participation, Jewish. World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--Poland--Kraków. World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--Poland--Oswiecim. World War, 1939-1945--Underground printing plants. Zionists. Women--Personal narratives. Prisons
- Geographic Name
- Bydgoszcz (Poland) Copenhagen (Denmark) Kopaliny (Poland) Kraków (Poland) Oświęcim (Poland) Poland--History--Occupation, 1939-1945. Rzeszów (Poland) Sweden. Warsaw (Poland)
- Personal Name
- Liebeskind, Rivka. Dranger, Shimshon. Justyna, 1917 or 1918-1943. Liebeskind, Adolf, 1912-1942.
- Holder of Originals
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The interview with Rivka Liebeskind was conducted in October 1987 by Eli Pfefferkorn for the Krakow Underground Project. The project was coordinated by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council in Israel with Holocaust survivors who were members of the Krakow Underground.
- Funding Note
- The cataloging of this oral history interview has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
- Special Collection
The Jeff and Toby Herr Oral History Archive
- Record last modified:
- 2023-11-16 08:26:59
- This page:
Also in Oral histories from the Krakow Underground Project collection
Contains interviews with 14 Holocaust survivors who were members of the Krakow Underground recorded by Eli Pfefferkorn for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council in October 1987
Sara Glutzman (née Fleisher) describes being a member of the Dror Youth movement in Warsaw, Poland before WWII; the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and the bombing of Warsaw, after which many people came to the city from Łódź, Poland; active members of the youth movement, including Yitzchak Katzenelson; going with a group to do agriculture work on a farm outside of Warsaw; returning to Warsaw, where the ghetto was being formed; being sent with the group to Kosuv-Podlaskie (possibly Kosów Lacki); the many illnesses people suffered; going to Częstochowa, Poland and escaping a German action and returning to Warsaw; eventually going to Krakow, Poland; working with Aharon (“Dolek”) Liebeskind and her work in the underground movement; her firend Hela; living in many different places; her alias “Bronislawa Mlotek”; losing contact with the underground movement and living with an older couple until the end of the war; going to Lublin, Poland after the war and find a group of Hashomer Hatzair who had come from Russia; how they comprised the “Breichah” movement; and the importance of remembering the Holocaust.
Rivka Liebskind (née Shpiner, born in Rzeszów, Poland) shows pictures in a picture album. She begins with a group picture of her peers in front of what used to be a Jewish hospital in Kraków, Poland. They were members of an underground resistance movement in the Kraków ghetto, founded by members of the “Akiva” youth group, a Zionist organization before the war. This is followed by a photograph of a female member of the resistance (her cousin, Gola Mire), and a picture of Rivka’s passport. Then we see a photograph of Rivka accepting a prize on behalf of her husband, Aharon (“Dolek”) Liebskind who led the Kraków Jewish ghetto resistance alongside Shishon “Symek” Draenger and Laban (Avraham Leibovich). The remaining photos are of herself and Aharon, and the camera focuses several times on the number tattooed on her arm. The final picture, a group picture, is featured in a published album with Yiddish captions. It is, presumably, an “Akiva” picture, or perhaps the first picture she discusses in the interview (it is not shown as she is discussing it) of the resistance group in front of the hospital.
Poldek Wasserman (Yehudah Maimon), born in 1924, discusses his childhood; attending the Hebrew gymnasium in Kraków; the beginning of the war; being involved in a Zionist youth group, Akiva; continuing to receive education even after the schools were closed; having papers allowing him to work; the establishment of the ghetto; the establishment of the resistance in the summer of 1942 as part of Akiva; the resistance group in Warsaw and two of its members, Isak Fogler and Henka Lamzek, who were sent to find an escape route and were captured and killed; the transition from a youth group to a resistance movement; their work finding hiding places for all members of the underground; his job as a courier; his secret relationship with another underground courier, Czeshka; the primary focus of the movement to forge Christian identity papers, obtaining arms, procuring money (through robbery), and maintaining ties between resistance fighters in the ghetto and outside the ghetto; their failed attempts to work with the Polish resistance; the opposition to the resistance within the ghetto; the leadership of Aharon “Dolek” Liebskind; the emotional aspects of his experience in the resistance; using a hut outside a hospital as a rendezvous point at which they received instructions for an operation to kill Germans in three cafes (Cyganeria, Splanada and Kofaika); and his role in the operation to stay in the ghetto and watch over the members of the resistance who were unable to leave (this summarizes only the first part of the interview).
Elsa-Shifra Lustgarten (née Lapa) discusses her participation in the Akiva Zionist youth movement and the resistance movement in Kraków during the war; her mentor and hero Shishon “Symek” Draenger, who had been the head of her branch of the Akiva youth group in Kraków; Symek Draenger’s activity as the editor of the Akiba journal, for which he was arrested and imprisoned for three months (his wife Gusta Davidson Dranger accompanied him to the prison); the release of Symek Draenger from prison; transmitting information from Symek Draenger to other members of the group; one of the first tasks given to members of the group which was to adopt a family that had been relocated to Kraków; the cooperation between the Warsaw Akiva group and the Kraków Akiva group; helping her family stay out of danger; her father’s and her father-in-law’s continuing faith in God; her sister giving birth in the ghetto to a stillborn son and her father expressing relief that at least the Germans would have one less Jewish child to torture and murder; the “vow” that she was asked to recite when she became a part of the resistance; the famous “Oneg Shabbat,” the last time all the members of the group would celebrate Shabbat altogether; details on the missions she conducted; Symek Lustgarten’s forfeiture of a valuable watch his father gave him in order to save his life; plastering signs all over German trucks and structures calling for revenge; the Cyganeria café attack on December 22, 1942; the discourse around embracing the Jewish role in the resistance; a woman who owned a pub who agreed to hide them by taking them to a church and “converting them”; Symek Dranger’s efforts to create a group of writers and artists, to harbor them in a bunker and charge members of the resistance to ensure that their needs were met and that their safety was guaranteed so they could document the war; the frenzied writing of Gole Mire and Gusta Davidson Dranger in prison; crowding around the writing woman in order to protect her and hide the text if a guard came in, and procuring pencils, pens and paper by whatever means possible; her knowledge of several executions, including her brother-in-law Poldek Lustgarten, Gole Mire, and a woman named Tsesha; their lives in the prison; singing as a form of resistance; and being deported with the two Wasserman sisters.
Hela Rupfenheiser, born in Kraków, Poland, discusses her youth in Kraków; being a member of the Akiba Zionist youth organization; joining a “hakhsharah” group (a Zionist training settlement) in Warsaw in March 1941; Kraków before the war; staying in the ghetto; the fates of her family members during the war; preparing to go to the training camp in Warsaw; living in a three-room apartment with twenty youths across from one of the ghetto gates; life with the group; conditions in the Warsaw ghetto; people suffering from typhus; the cold winter of 1941-1942; hearing rumors from Vilna (Vilnius, Lithuania) about the Chelmno killings; the different Zionist organizations that had their own “hakhsharot” or training camps in Warsaw; the murders of community leaders in the spring of 1942; the Zionist Hakhsharah leaders coming together at the Jewish library; the deportations in the summer of 1942; the Zionist youth deciding to rise up and rebel on July 28, 1942; returning to Kraków to consult with the leadership there; the difficult journey to Kraków; meeting with Poldek Wasserman at a hospital to get counterfeit papers so she could enter the ghetto; going to see Aharon “Dolek” Liebskind and his wife Rivka “Voskhe” Liebskind; going to see Szymek Draenger who was her counselor in the youth movement in Kraków; their “platoon” which was called “Gdud ha-Sharon”; her discussions with the leaders in Kraków; being the courier between Kraków and Warsaw; returning to Warsaw with false papers; her activities as a courier; Idek Tennenaum, who oversaw the process of gathering the forms for the false papers; Szymek Draenger, who was the master forger; the major roundup and deportation to Belzec in June; Gusta Draenger, who led 20 girls in the youth movement; going east to fight along with her brother for a week before Rosh ha-Shanah; the arrest of Gusta and Szymek and their releases; her memories of Gusta; Gusta and Szymek visiting the group in Warsaw; traveling with Gusta once between Warsaw and Kraków; the Cyganeria attack on December 22, 1942; the last time she saw Gusta; going to Warsaw; the liquidation of the ghetto; being in Bergen-Belsen in the summer of 1943; meeting a child (Anna Brown) who had met Gusta in the Montelupich prison; and going to Israel after the war. (The interview ends with a photograph of Hela as a young woman, presumably the age she was during the war.)
Shalom Schreiber describes the Jewish character in Poland before the war; the restrictions placed on Jews; the Zionist movements that formed in the 1930s; the leaders in the Jewish communities; the German takeover of Poland and the gradual restrictions placed on Jews; Jews having to wear Star of David badges; the curfews; how life continued to be manageable; being ordered to leave their homes and move to the ghetto in Krakow; being 21 years old when he was ordered to the ghetto with his mother and three siblings; going to live with his sister and her husband in the nearby town of Niepolomice; moving from town to town about eight times; returning to Krakow to try and make some money; moving with his family to Bochnia and living in a basement bunker that was built by someone they knew; hiding in the bunker while the Jews of Bochnia were murdered and deported during an action; joining the fighting groups of the underground with his family; moving into a small house with two rooms and a kitchen along with around 20 other people; receiving an order to search for hiding places in the woods of Vishnitz and build bunkers; Simek’s (Shimshon Draenger) attempts to save the writers, Israel Schreibtafel and Heshek Gutman, so that they could write about the war; meeting with Dolek (Adolf Liebeskind); passing as a Gestapo leather salesman; the Krakow underground forging him a German Kennkarte with the name Yam Timiac; building a bunker in Bochnia; singing songs and socializing with the others in hiding; how the Jewish underground needed money and they decided to rob a rich Jewish man from the Bochnia ghetto; the SS catching the thieves (Yulek, Poldek and Natek) and arresting everyone in the bunker; the interrogation and beating of many of the prisoners; being sent to Montelupich Prison; being in the same cell with his younger brother (Shimon), Simek (Draenger), Romek Lustgarten, and a few other men from Akiba for one month (March-April 1943); the mistreatment they received from the prison guards; life in the prison; Simek (Draenger) having conversations with everyone in the cell about their situation and about Zionism; his belief that his conversations with his brother saved him from despair; being taken on April 13 to Auschwitz; being taken to Buna (Monowitz); the hard life in the camp; sanitation in the camp; and the disappearance of Israel Schreibtafel, Hersh Gutman (Heshek Gutman?) and Avraham Reich. The interviewee (who is now possibly Poldek and not Shalom) shares a photo of Genia Meltzer, and describes her arrest in March 1943 and imprisonment in Montelupich. He also describes the book based in the experiences of Gusta Dranger (Justyna).
Rina Nezer, born in Kraków, Poland, describes moving to Israel in April 1939; her close friend Gusta Dawidson-Draenger (nome de guerra Justyna), whom she met in 1930 when Gusta was 13 years old; Gusta’s membership in the Bnot Yaacov youth movement; the Jewish youth in Kraków, which was divided into two groups, the secular youth and the religious youth; choosing a high school in Kraków; attending the School of Language and Education with Gusta; being a guide in the Akiba movement and inviting Gusta to join; Gusta’s decision to leave Bnot Yaacov and join Akiba; Gusta joining the editorial team (along with Shimshon Draenger) of their youth journal, Tze'irim (which means young in Hebrew); finishing high school and leaving Kraków, while Gusta remained an active member of Akiba; Shimshon joining the Akiba movement when he was 13 years old and doing all the drawing of the Tze'irim journal; her thoughts on Dolek (Aharon Liebeskind), who was an active member of Akiba; her brother, who was six years younger than her and a member of Vushka’s group in Akiba; her mother and sister being sent to Belzec, after which her brother became an active member of the underground group; and learning of her brother’s death through Gusta’s diary (Justyna's Narrative).
Yakov (Kuba) Lieberman, born in Krakow, Poland in 1915, describes being a member of the Akiba youth movement; being in the Polish military until he got injured in a battle between Poland and Germany in 1939; leaving the hospital when the Germans were searching for Jewish soldiers and living with his aunt; the Krakow Ghetto and receiving medical care in the Jewish hospital; Jews being ordered to wear a yellow star on their clothes in early 1940; moving with his family to a town named Skala; assisting his brother who was a dentist; being sent to the labor camp in Płaszów and registering as a dentist; seeing patients in the clinic and being allowed to take a group of people by foot once a day to the hospital in Krakow ghetto; his involvement with Aharon “Dolek” Liebeskind’s underground resistance group (Akiba) beginning in 1942; his brother’s arrest and death; getting 20 Akiba members get from Krakow to Bochnia with the help of Jozef Wulf; how Poldek Wasserman or Romek Lustgarten would pass messages between Yakov and Dolek or Shimshon “Simek” Draenger; hearing that Dolek was killed and Simek was arrested; the arrest of Simek’s wife (Gusta “Justyna” Dawidson Draenger) and Romek Lustgarten; a meeting in early 1943 in Zielonki, Poland between Yakov, Hilel Wodzislawski, Poldek Wasserman, Hersz Bauminger, Natek Weissman, and Julek Apple; deciding to take the survivors to the woods; being taken to Pomorska for interrogations and then to Montelupich prison; seeing Simek briefly after being interrogated; being sent to Auschwitz, where he saw Poldek, Simek, and the Shrieber brothers; being transferred with Shlomo Shine to the Golleschau cement factory, where they stayed almost until the end of the war along with Gustek Duitcher; the transport of his parents to Slomniki and then Belzec, where they perished; being able to get his brother transferred from Belzec to Płaszów; being released from Mauthausen on May 9, 1945 and hitchhiking home; finding his brother in north Krakow and friends from the Akiba movement; and leaving Krakow because he did not feel safe there.
Yehuda Friedman, Yosef Halperstein, and Marcel (Moshe) Eintracht describe their lives in the Krakow ghetto; working in a Gestapo car garage outside the ghetto; being sent to Montelupich prison; being relocated with other car mechanics to the women’s section of Montelupich; Marcel recognizing the girls from his group, Akiba, who were political prisoners; communicating with the women through hand signals; the women asking them to pass notes to the ghetto, telling their families that they were alive; hearing the women sing Akiba songs every night; the brutal treatment of the women during interrogations; hearing that the women tried to escape and seeing the dead bodies of Paula Krisher and Genia Melzer (according to other reports, Melzer survived); Yehuda’s involvement with the underground; the death of underground member Idek Tenenbaum and his family; Eintracht’s memories of Menek Shpiner being taken by the Germans (Menek was the brother of Vushka wife of Dolek Liebeskind); the fake Aryan documents Idek made for the underground; living with approximately 80 other people in Montelupich, including Kieza Burger who cleaned the chimneys and the heaters and found Gusta Dawidson-Draenger’s diary while cleaning one of the heaters; the publishing of Gusta’s diary (Justyna's Narrative); listening to the BBC on an illegal radio during the war; the Russian liberation of Krakow in January 1945; and Yehuda’s Kennkarte (ID) and learning the fates of his parents and sister after the war.
Peska Verolska describes being in Krakow during October 1939; being a member of the youth organization HaShomer Hatzair led by Hersz Bauminger; her boyfriend Gustek Duitcher, who was also a member of the HaShomer Hatzair; the creation of the ghetto in Krakow in 1941 and the conditions there; sewing to financially support her family; the deportation of two children from her family; the underground activity in the ghetto; Gustek giving her some Aryan paperwork and asking her to meet the leader of the Akiba resistance group, Aharon “Dolek” Liebeskind; her assignments with the underground movement and going to Warsaw and Tarnow; working with Danka Tselmeister and Vushka (Ryvka Kuper Libeskind-Shpiner); being arrested during an assignment in Tarnow; seeing Israel Kanaw, Chella, and Regina in prison; being badly beaten after trying to escape the transport to the prison; being interrogated and asked about Dolek; telling the interrogators that she was a member of the fighting movement but she didn’t know anything about their plans; remaining in the prison for a few weeks before being taken by train to Krakow in January 1943; being taken with two men and four women to Montelupich prison, where she encountered 15 women from the Akiba movement in Chamber 15 of the prison; befriending the women and sing Shabbat songs with them; how when Gusta Dawidson-Draenger came to the prison and began documenting the details of the underground movement; the arrival of her friend Elsa and the Goldwasser sisters in late January; the arrival of Gola, who was arrested for publishing an underground newspaper; singing movement songs with the women; being in charge of dividing the food amongst her prison mates; the arrival of her older sister to the cell and the last two weeks they spent together; the deportations in February and March from the prison and remaining with Gola, Gusta, Vushkayoles, and Seltzer; planning an escape with the women; being taken to Płaszów before she could escape; hearing of her sister’s death in Płaszów; having a difficult time in Płaszów because she was the only survivor from Montelupich and people thought that she was a traitor; having to wear a big yellow badge to indicate that she was in Montelupich prison; being part of the underground movement in Płaszów; being taken to Auschwitz in the fall of 1944; being tattooed on the inside of her forearm; how she and her husband (Lolek) never spoke to their children about the war, because they didn’t want them to grow up hating the Germans or anyone else; returning to Krakow after the war and finding her sister; being interviewed by the historian Josef Wulf about her underground activities during the war; and returning to Montelupich prison to look for Gusta’s notes but not finding anything.