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Portrait of the Gaenger family.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 22075

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    Portrait of the Gaenger family.
    Portrait of the Gaenger family.

Among those pictured are Yehuda Leib and Rivka Gaenger (front), the grandparents of Amalie Petranker.


    Portrait of the Gaenger family.

    Among those pictured are Yehuda Leib and Rivka Gaenger (front), the grandparents of Amalie Petranker.
    Stanislawow, [Ukraine] Poland
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Amalie Petranker Salsitz

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Amalie Petranker Salsitz

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Amalie Salsitz (born Amalie Petranker) is the daughter of David and Frieda (Gaenger) Petranker. She was born October 21, 1922 in Munich, but was raised in Stanislawow, Poland, where her father was assistant director of the regional forestry authority. He was a modern, liberal Jew who was also an ardent Zionist. He dreamed of moving to Palestine with his wife and three daughters, Pepka, Amalie and Celia. In preparation for this move he had his children educated in Hebrew primary and secondary schools. On the eve of the German invasion of Poland, Pepka was wed to a former resident of Stanislawow who had moved to Palestine in 1934 and had returned for a visit. Because of the political crisis the couple decided to leave immediately for Palestine. A few weeks later the Russians occupied Stanislawow. As Jews and members of the bourgeoisie, the Petrankers were stigmatized as social parasites under the new Soviet regime. David Petranker, who was soon dismissed from his position in the forestry authority, was forced to become a laborer. Amalie's plans to go to medical school were thwarted, and soon any type of higher education was beyond the family's means. The new identification cards issued to the Petrankers put them in the category of residents who were liable to be deported to Siberia at any time. In the weeks preceding the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 Amalie and Celia were given the opportunity to flee to the Soviet interior, but their anti-Communist father advised against it. On July 26, 1941 Stanislawow came under German rule. Within a few days Jews were compelled to wear armbands and register for work. Amalie and her sister became maids at Gestapo headquarters. Soon after starting work, Celia became aware of a group of Hungarian Jews who were being held in the building next to Gestapo headquarters. Fearing that they were being starved to death, Celia took the food she had brought with her to work and tossed it to the Jewish prisoners. Unfortunately, her actions were observed by a Gestapo officer. Seventeen-year-old Celia was detained immediately and later shot. On October 12, 1941, shortly before all Jews had to move into the ghetto, the Germans unleashed a large-scale action in which 8000 - 12,000 Jews were shot at the local cemetery. Amalie's mother was among them. The following year, Amalie's father was caught in a round-up and put on a deportation train to Belzec. At that time Amalie was working at the local railroad station as a cleaning woman. There she was befriended by a Karaite named Edmund (Mundek) Abrahamovitch, who took her to his home in nearby Halitz and secured false papers for her in the name of Felicia Milaszewska. Mundek also made inquiries to discover what had happened to her father. While on the deportation train David Petranker managed to pry loose two floorboards and lower himself from the moving train onto the tracks. He then made his way to the home of a peasant woman on the outskirts of Halitz. Unaware that Amalie was also in Halitz, he decided to risk returning to Stanislawow to find her. On the train he was recognized by a former Polish friend, who turned him into the police. He was then arrested and shot. From Halitz, Amalie went to Lvov and then to Krakow, where she was initially helped by her father's former boss at the forestry authority in Stanislawow. Because of her non-Jewish appearance and fluent German she was able to pass as a Volksdeutsche [ethnic German] and ultimately secured a position in a German construction firm. When that company was closed in June 1944, she moved to the Viennese-owned M & K construction company, a firm that had been contracted to erect columns around the city that were filled with dynamite. These were to be detonated when the Germans made their final withdrawal from Krakow. In December Amalie's bosses "temporarily" removed themselves to Vienna, leaving her in charge. When she got the call from the German field commander to detonate the columns she acknowledged the order but did nothing. She later turned over the blueprints to the columns to members of a special task force of the new Polish army, headed by another hidden Jew, Naftali Saleschütz. At the end of 1945 Amalie and Naftali were married. Soon after, they fled to Germany and in 1947 immigrated to the United States.

    [Source: Hearth, Amy Hill and Norman & Amalie Petranker Salsitz. In a World Gone Mad: A Heroic Story of Love, Faith and Survival, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, 2001]
    Record last modified:
    2004-05-25 00:00:00
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