Yeshaya Kornbluh stands outside a barrack in a Hungarian labor camp.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 75663
- Variant Locale
- Photo Designation
LABOR CAMPS/MINOR CAMPS -- Hungary -- Koszeg
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Rabbi Yeshaya Kornbluh
Yeshaya Kornbluh stands outside a barrack in a Hungarian labor camp.
- Pinchos Yeshaya Kornbluh was the oldest child of Belzer Chassidim, Nachum and Shifra Roisza Kornbluh. He had two brothers Tzvi Hirsh and Dov Berel and a sister Rivke. They grew up in Ceski Tesin on the Czech-Polish border. Their mother passed away before the war, and their father remarried and supported the family selling apples and knitwear. After Poland invaded Czechoslovakia the family fled to Chust. Reb Nachum returned to Ceski Tesin to retrieve their belongings while the children went to stay with various relatives. Yeshaya and Rivke lived with their maternal aunt and uncle, Tzivia and Yehuda Leib Klein, in Munkacs. However with the start of the war and the closing of the borders, Nachum became trapped and couldn't return home. For two years he couldn't communicate with family, and they didn't know what happened to him.
Nahum went to Krakow and then to Belz, Sokol and Peremyshliany. While studying in the yeshiva in Munkacs, Yeshaya received a postcard from his father with Russian stamps. For a few months they were able to correspond until the German invasion of June 1941, and then they lost contact again. Hi father escaped to Dolina and was conscripted by Hungarians to translate from Hungarian to Polish and Russian. After working there for six months, he received permission to return to Hungary to reunite with family which was now living in his hometown of Satmar (Satu Mare) in Romania. Reb Nachum supported the family making vodka while his wife prepared and sold baked goods. Reb Nachum, with the help of his two older sons, also forged and sold false identification papers.
In 1942 Yeshaya received a notice to report for forced labor. He then obtained false papers saying he was a year younger than he was and fled to Papa to study in its yeshiva. He stayed on the run, continuing to evade draft notices until Germany's invasion of Hungary in March 1944. Yeshaya again received induction papers, and this time he reported to the center in Koszeg where he worked loading and unloading trains. He received a letter from father, stepmother and Rivke saying that they had been sent to a ghetto in Satmar; his sister Rivke sent him a final letter on May 7. They were deported to Auschwitz on Shavuot. His brother Berel, who also was deported, sent him a postcard from Waldsee saying he was fine. This led Yeshaya to mistakenly think his whole family was well.
Throughout his time in forced labor Yeshaya remained an observant Jew. On one occasion, his guards caught him praying with tallit and tefillin and forced him to sweep an entire barrack with his toothbrush. However, after Shavuot he was sent to a new labor camp on the Austrian border to fell trees. His new supervisor was sympathetic to the eight Sabbath observant boys and allowed them to work twice as hard on Friday so that they could observe the Sabbath. In October 1944 the Hungarian Regent, Admiral Horthy, resigned. Thinking Hungary's role in the war was over, the sympathetic officer ordered his men to hand in their weapons and follow Kornbluh into the forests to wait their liberation by the Russians. They marched in direction of Szombathely since felt Russians would get there first. However in meanwhile learned that the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Nazis) had taken over Hungary. Yeshaya felt they had no alternative but to return to the labor camp. However after a few weeks, they were sent back to Koszeg where conditions were much harsher and food less available. One day the officers put out a call for skilled laborers. The on February 7, 1945 all of the Jews were marched out of Koszeg and taken to Szombathely. They were greeted by sadistic members of the Arrow Cross who confiscated all of their remaining belongings and whipped them till they were bloody. The Jews were then sent on a forced march towards Austria. When they arrived in Shachendorf at the border Austrian Nazis assumed responsibility for the workers who had to dig anti-tank moats to stop Russian advances. After a couple of months, they began a death march into Austria. The Jews had to march 19 miles a day with almost no food. Yeshaya lived off of dandelions and other weeds. He only received real food three times in three months. Due to these harsh conditions, Yeshaya contracted typhus fever. He stayed alive thanks to his friends from the Sabbath observant group, who propped him up and pushed him forward and eventually traded some of their food for medicine. Eventually they arrived in Mauthausen. However, as the war wound down, they were sent on one last march to the sub-camps of Wels and Gunskirchen. Yeshaya was finally liberated there by Americans on May 4th 1945. Yeshaya and his friends spent a short time recuperating but then decided to return to Hungary to look for family.
After he arrived in Budapest Yeshaya found his brother Hershel deathly ill in a hospital. Yeshaya spent the next few weeks nursing him back to health. He also learned from another survivor that his youngest brother Berel had also survived and had gone to Italy in the hopes of proceeding on to Palestine. Yeshaya and Hershel decided to go find him, but first they returned briefly to Satmar. Though they did retrieve some small family possessions and meet with extended family, they learned that their parents and sister had perished in Auschwitz. While figuring out how to go to Italy, Yeshaya met a religious Romanian survivor, Chaya Tziporah Deblinger. A friend arranged their match, and the two married on July 22, 1945. One week later they and Hershel began their journey to Italy. After several weeks they eventually arrived in Italy and reunited Berel with in Santa Cezria. While awaiting a time to go to Palestine, Berel and Hershel went to study in a yeshiva in Bari led by Rabbi Ephraim Oshry. Yeshaya and Tziporah joined the Orthodox Agudah Kibbutz Nachalas Binyomin in nearby Karpurza. Yeshaya split his day studying torah and undergoing agricultural training to prepare for his immigration. Their oldest son Eliyahu was born there June 11, 1946. Since it was not easy to make the trip to Palestine with a small baby, Berel and Hershel went first, and Yeshaya and Tziporah followed later. By then they also had a baby daughter, Shifra Roiza. After sailing for twelve days through a dangerous storm, they arrived in Israel on December 14, 1948. Yeshaya and Tziporah Kornbluh went on to have seven children, many grandchildren and scores of great grandchildren.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Rabbi Yeshaya KornbluhSource Record ID: Collections: 2014.385.1
Record last modified: 2017-05-08 00:00:00
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