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Close-up portrait of a young couple standing next to a tree in a garden of Kibbutz Gan Shmuel.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 18369

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    Close-up portrait of a young couple standing next to a tree in a garden of Kibbutz Gan Shmuel.
    Close-up portrait of a young couple standing next to a tree in a garden of Kibbutz Gan Shmuel.

Pictured are Miriam Domawaska and Josef Fischer.

    Overview

    Caption
    Close-up portrait of a young couple standing next to a tree in a garden of Kibbutz Gan Shmuel.

    Pictured are Miriam Domawaska and Josef Fischer.
    Date
    1946
    Locale
    Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, Palestine/Israel
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Joseph Fischer

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Joseph Fischer

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    Josef Fischer (now Joseph) is the son of Zeev Fischer and Leah Steinfeld Fischer. He had an older brother Mordechai. Joseph was born on July 20, 1921in Biksad (Bixad) Romania, in Transylvania, near Satu Mare. His father was an Orthodox Jew and a skilled tinsmith. The Fischers were the only Jews on their street, but they had warm relations with their neighbors. Josef's father did a lot of work for the priests living in a nearby monastery. In 1940 after Transylvania became part of Hungary, Hungarian gendarmes terrorized the Jewish community. One gendarme beat Josef for refusing an order to lie in the mud, and another set his dog on him. The Hungarians conscripted Josef's older brother Mordechai for slave labor. He later perished on the Russian front. In 1944 Germany assumed control of the region, and Jewish life became even more perilous. However, the Fischer's Christian neighbors offered to help. One wanted to hide them in his home in the mountains, and the head of the monastery begged them to hide in the cloister. However, Josef's father refused to accept these offers. Soon afterwards, the gendarmes rounded up all the Jews in Biksad and incarcerated them in the synagogue. The priest delivered food to the synagogue each day. However, one day all the Jews were sent by wagon to a ghetto in Satu Mare. Josef found work in a metal and plumbing shop so as to get extra food and clothes for his parents. Though they were told they would be sent to a place with better food, when they arrived at the train station, guards beat them and seized their packages. On May 15, 1944 they were transported to Auschwitz. Josef's parents were immediately sent to the left and killed. Josef tried to follow them but was beaten and sent to the right. The following day he was sent to work in a factory in Buna. Since he had learned tinsmithing from his father, he impressed the factory manager who in turn offered him permanent work. Milton, a Czech civilian who worked there was particularly kind to him. Max Neuman, a Jewish Kapo from Holland who headed a team of accountants, took a liking to Josef since he reminded him of his son. Not only did Max make sure that Josef was properly fed, he also provided emotional support and became a surrogate father. Josef found two friends from his hometown, and he shared his extra food with them. In January 17, 1945, the Germans liquidated Buna and sent the prisoners on a death march towards Gleiwitz. A friend of Josef's who worked in the supply depot gave Josef boots and a warm coat prior to the march. Conditions were much worse there than in Buna. When Josef spotted a group of prisoners marching to work under SS guard, he decided to join them hoping he would get fed. However, when they came to a row of barracks, Josef noticed a battery of machine guns being set up to gun down the prisoners. Josef tried to escape but was caught, beaten and forced to return to the group. Luckily a Kapo noticed Josef's winter coat and boots and offered to trade coats. Josef removed his coat and received in exchange a new coat with a Kapo armband thus providing an opportunity to escape. His luck continued when he found Max who nursed and fed him and gave him a place to stay in his barracks. In March, Josef responded to a German request for skilled metal workers and volunteered for a transport to Dora-Mittelbau. He was given work in underground rocket factory where conditions were quite harsh. One day an SS officer selected Josef and another prisoner to clean up the home of a recently hired civilian engineer. Near starvation, Josef stole left-over food from the engineer's dog. A girl inside the home noticed him and summoned him indoors. Rather than threatening to punish him, the girl took pity on Josef and fed him a real meal. Some weeks after, Josef witnessed SS men carrying out documents and burning then. After the Allies bombed Dora, the prisoners were sent to the train station. By then the SS were no longer visible. The prisoners were given rations and sent by train to a German officer training camp in Bergen Belsen. Many died from hunger on board. As luck would have it, Josef again found Max yet again. Max gave him food and encouraged him to survive just a few more days until liberation. On April 15, 1945 Josef was liberated by the British. Josef remained in Belsen for a while working as a cook for the other survivors. After the war he returned to Transylvania to search for his family. The Father of the cloister and other Christian neighbors offered to help, but Josef felt he could not remain in Romania without his parents. With the help of the Bricha he went to Austria, then to an Italian DP camp near Udine and finally a kibbutz hachshara in Samardenkia where he worked in the camp kitchen. There he met Miriam Domawaska.

    Miriam Domawaska (later Fischer) is the daughter of Mordechai and Sara Domawaska. She was born in Vilna on August 17, 1930, and had four siblings. Her mother, sister Pesia and two brothers, Aryeh Leib and Meir perished in the Holocaust. Only she, her father and younger sister Rivke survived. Josef and Miriam immigrated illegally to Palestine aboard the Wingate in 1946 and wed in Tel Aviv on January 6, 1948. Josef fought in both Israel's War of Independence and the Sinai Campaign of 1956. He and Miriam later immigrated to the United States.
    Record last modified:
    2006-09-15 00:00:00
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/pa1161465

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