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Wedding party of Yidl Weinstein and Gittl Zucker in the Windsheim displaced persons' camp. A Hannuka menorah decorates the table.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 59780

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    Wedding party of Yidl Weinstein and Gittl Zucker in the Windsheim displaced persons' camp. A Hannuka menorah decorates the table.
    Wedding party of Yidl Weinstein and Gittl Zucker in the Windsheim displaced persons' camp.  A Hannuka menorah decorates the table.

    Overview

    Caption
    Wedding party of Yidl Weinstein and Gittl Zucker in the Windsheim displaced persons' camp. A Hannuka menorah decorates the table.
    Date
    1946 - 1949
    Locale
    Windsheim, [Franconia] Germany
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Judith and Eddie Weinstein

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Judith and Eddie Weinstein

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    EddieWeinstein (born Yidl Weinstein) is the son of Asher Weinstein and Leah Brukmann Weinstein. He was born in 1924 in Losice, Poland where his mother's family had lived for generations. His younger brother Srulek (Israel) was born in 1926. His father was trained as a tailor but supported the family marketing farm products. Yidl attended public elementary school and then yeshiva. During their invasion of Poland, the Germans bombed Losice and destroyed the synagogue. In August 1940, after the Germans began conscripting Jews for forced labor, Yidl was ordered to work expanding the rail platform and tracks in the nearby town of Niemojki. This work continued until February 1941, and the Germans subsequently used this improved rail service during their surprise invasion of the Soviet Union. Yidl then was sent to Kalushin to do similar work. Four days later, after a German guard beat him, Yidl escaped and returned home where he was given different labor assignments. In December 1941, a ghetto was established in Losice, and Jews were forbidden to leave the confined area. A few months later, in February 1942, the Germans ordered the Judenrat to transport Jewish workers to a labor camp near Siedlce. Yidl was sent on the first transport. Conditions in the camp were horrible, and on seventh day of Passover April 9, 1942, after becoming seriously ill, Yidl and a friend escaped and returned to Losice. After his return, the Judenrat wanted to send him back to the camp. Asher offered to go in his place, and he left for the labor camp in Siedlce in the middle of April 1942. Yidl worked in the fishponds belonging to the Wozniki estate three miles from Losice. Though the work was less arduous than in the camp, Yidl suffered from typhus and pneumonia. On Saturday August 22, 1942, gendarmes, SS and SD surrounded the ghetto. They began shooting and ordered everyone out of their houses. Along with the rest of the ghetto's inhabitants, Yidl, his mother and brother were marched out of town towards Siedlce. Leah became separated from her two sons; Yidl never saw her again. Severe thirst overcame the deportees, and German guards shot anyone who tried to drink. On August 24, together with Jews from the surrounding towns, they were ordered to board freight trains. Yidl squeezed into a railcar with his brother Srulek, his aunt and her three children. When the train arrived in Treblinka, many people already had died of dehydration. Yidl was assigned the task of loading corpses onto carts. Later that day, while waiting for a water ration, he was shot in the chest. Srulek dragged him inside a clothing warehouse and dressed the wound. After concealing his brother in a pile of clothing, Srulek left to find more water, but he never returned. After a few days, once Yidl had recovered sufficiently to leave his hiding place, he illegally joined a group of Jews selected to sort clothes and belongings of Jewish victims. Each worker was identified by a red triangle. One of Yidl's friends from Losice, Gedalia Rosenzweig, fabricated a similar patch for Yidl in order to protect him. The workers were able to find plenty of food, but water continued in short supply. During the ensuing weeks, Yidl witnessed acts of unspeakable cruelty and barbarism including the murder of young infants and a fire pit into which Germans tossed bodies, some still alive. When the Germans assigned Jewish workers to load valuables and goods onto railcars, Yidl and a few friends decided to smuggle themselves out of the camp. One friend filled belts with looted gold so that they could support themselves after the escape. On September 9, Yidl, Gedalia and Michael Fishman hid in a train car filled with Jewish belongings, and seventeen days after their arrival in Treblinka, they successfully escaped. When the train approached Sokolow Podlaski, the three youths jumped off and continued on foot to Siedlce, where there were still Jewish workers. Yidl reunited with his father and told him the entire story. When Jewish police found out the three youths had been in Treblinka, they tried to extort money from the escapees. The boys decided to leave Siedlce for Losice where there was a small ghetto of Jews who had somehow eluded deportation. Asher joined his son later. Conditions in Losice were fairly good, but everyone knew this was only a temporary respite and were seeking hiding places in advance of the final liquidation of the ghetto. A friend, Berl Goldberg, had found a hiding place under the pigsty of a peasant named Zabiniak, and offered to share it with Yidl and Asher. Though Zabiniak was sympathetic, he and his wife became increasingly scared of German searches and retribution and demanded that they leave. Yidl set out to find a new place on December 17; he went to see Szczebunski, the manager of the Wozniki fishponds where he had worked the previous spring. Asher also had business dealings with Szczebunski before the war. Szczebunski would not let the Jews hide in his house, but agreed to let them a build bunker beneath a drained fishpond. Yidl used money he had smuggled out of Treblinka to pay the Szczebunskis for their upkeep. After they told Szczebunski, that there was room for one more person if he knew of someone in need of a refuge, Hirschl Wior joined them. For the next year and a half, the four men remained hidden beneath the pond in a bunker 4 by 6 feet. In March 1943 Yidl went to Szczebunski's house to pick up dinner only to see gendarmes leaving the house. After this scare, Szczebunski wanted to limit his contact with the Jews and refused to provide any more food. For a short while, Zabiniak agreed to sell food and exchange money on commission, but then he refused to provide further help. On April 19, 1944, Polish farmhands discovered their bunker and threatened to inform the police. Yidl paid them to keep quiet, but a few days later Szczebunski warned that the farmhands had been talking and urged the four Jews to move elsewhere. They then had to build new bunker. On July 29, 1944 retreating German soldiers decided to make a stand against the advancing Russians. Asher, Berl and Yidl decided to leave the bunker (Wior chose to stay), and in darkness they crossed the main road and spent that night in a nearby field, hiding in the standing sheaves of grain. In the morning they crawled out and were spotted by German soldiers. Everyone began running in different directions. Asher and Yidl made themselves inconspicuous, but the soldiers chased after Berl. He was shot and killed, just one day before Soviet forces liberated the area. ( In September a farmer plowing the fields found the body. Yidl and Asher, who credited Berl for saving their lives, buried him in a Jewish cemetery.) Soon afterwards, a German soldier discovered Asher and Yidl, but he believed their story that they were working for the gendarmerie in Losice and let them go. Later that day, they were liberated by the Russians. Yidl and his father did not remain in Losice for long. After a pogrom in the neighboring town of Mordy they left Poland for Germany. They stayed in Bad Windsheim DP camp until immigrating to America in July 1949. After the war they kept in touch with Szczebunski and sent him parcels. Asher passed away in 1972 and was buried in a tallit he had used for daily prayers during the time he was hidden in the bunker.

    [Weinstein, Edi; Quenched Steel: The Story of an Escape from Treblinka]; Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, 2002]
    Record last modified:
    2008-08-18 00:00:00
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