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June 1, 1998 -- Vol.3, no.3

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Companion photographs by Lorenz Sichelschmidt

Mala - A Fragment of a Life
by Lorenz Sichelschmidt

She was an ordinary person. Her way of life, her way through life, and ultimately her death, correspond to that of millions of European Jews during the Holocaust. Additionally she was an extraordinary individual. Her courage, dignity, and pride, her unique way of preserving human qualities in the face of terror within the barbed-wire fences of Auschwitz distinguish her from millions of her contemporaries.

Yet, after more than fifty years, not many traces of her have remained. As Stephen G. Esrati has indicated in a recent article [1], there are no monuments, no postage stamps, no streets or ships named after her. Mala Zimetbaum - a Jewish heroine almost forgotten?

Not quite. There are memories; recollections of Mala Zimetbaum by relatives and acquaintances. Survivors of Auschwitz gather annually to commemorate Mala. A B'nai B'rith lodge and a scholarship bear her name. Archives hold a few photographs of Mala, some official files, and five written messages from the extermination camp. Also, she is referred to in more than 100 publications [2], a TV documentary [3], and a recent biography by the author [4]. Most importantly, Mala's name appears in several comprehensive accounts of Jewish resistance [5].

Brief Biography

Because there is little information available, only a sketchy biography can be given of this outstanding individual.

The earliest known document is a registration office file [6] which states that Zimetbaum Malka, daughter of the salesman Pinkas Zimetbaum and his wife Chaya, born in Brzesko, Poland, on January 26, 1918, was registered as an inhabitant of the city of Antwerp, Belgium, on March 21, 1928.

Malka Zimetbaum, the youngest of five children, grew up where her ancestors came from, in a Jewish "shtetl" community of southern Poland. After several years of migration back and forth between Germany and Poland, the Zimetbaum family finally settled in Belgium. In school, young Malka excelled in mathematics and languages, having a command of Flemish, French, German, English, and Polish. Her elder sister Yochka remembers her as "the intellectual one" [7]. As an adolescent, Malka joined Hanoar Hatzioni, one of nineteen Jewish youth organizations in Antwerp. A rare photo pictures the girl - who now preferred the name Mala to Malka - in the group's uniform during an excursion. Pinkas Zimetbaum's low income required that everyone in the family contribute. In order to support her father, who had become blind, Mala interrupted her education and took a job as a seamstress for Maison Lilian, a major Antwerp fashion house [photo]. Later, she found employment as a linguist-secretary in one of the many small companies in the Antwerp diamond business [8] [photo].

After the German occupation of Belgium, Jews were forced to register, to observe a curfew and to wear a yellow star. They were faced with bans, expropriations, hard labor, and eventually, deportation and death. In the face of this, many fled from the country or chose to live underground. [photo] Mala Zimetbaum was arrested on July 22, 1942, getting off the train at the Antwerp Central Station on her way back from Brussels. She had gone there attempting to find a hiding place for her parents and herself. One of about 100 women, she was held captive at Fort Breendonk. Five days later, Mala and ten other office workers were transferred to Mechelen town, where German authorities had turned the Dossin Barracks into a collection, holding and deportation point for Jews. Mala and the other women were assigned work in the registry. "I could observe how much Mala cared and stood up for her fellow prisoners," one of them remembers [9]. According to the records, 25,475 persons (one in five of them under 16 years of age) were deported from Mechelen between August 1942 and August 1944. On September 15, 1942, the tenth deportation train left Dossin Barracks. It carried 1048 deportees "assigned for hard labor." Mala Zimetbaum was one of them [10].

The destination was Auschwitz. The gigantic camp complex in Oswiecim, Poland, served as a concentration camp, a forced labor camp, and an extermination camp. It was staffed by the SS, the German Security Detachment, for RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt), the Reich Security Main Office. After a journey of two days and a selection at the ramp of the Oswiecim freight depot, only 331 of the deportees from Belgium were assigned to the camp. The other 717 were gassed immediately. Mala Zimetbaum was one of 101 females considered fit for labor. She was placed in the women's camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau and assigned the number 19880, later tattooed on her forearm [11]. Like the others, Mala was warehoused in a wooden barrack, originally designed as a horse stable. Each of these "blocks" housed some 500 women who had to sleep six across in three tiered hutches. Mala, like any woman prisoner, was forced to wear gray-striped prisoners' dress, a headscarf and wooden clogs and submit to her head and body being shaved.

The women's camp had recently been expanded and the camp supervisor (LagerfŸhrerin) Maria Mandel was looking for girls to employ in the camp administration. Because of her knowledge of diverse languages, Mala was picked as a LŠuferin, that is, a messenger and interpreter. According to a fellow prisoner: "These girls had to stand next to the guardhouse, waiting for orders. Whenever camp supervisor Mandel or overseer Margot Drechsler needed them, they yelled 'LŠuferin,' and the girl had to do as ordered on the double" [12]. As a prisoner in contact with SS personnel, Mala was in a privileged position: Unlike ordinary prisoners, she shared two bunks in a corner of her block with three fellow messengers. Being privileged, she was passably dressed and was occasionally allowed to wash. She was assigned work within the camp boundaries and had access to various sub-camps of Auschwitz. Above all, her duties gave Mala Zimetbaum a thorough knowledge of the extermination factory that was Birkenau [13].

Recollections of Resistance

Because of her personality and courageous behavior, Mala soon won the admiration and respect of many fellow prisoners. Virtually all the pertinent accounts praise her solidarity. Even the SS trusted her. Mala did not take advantage of this personally but rather used her position to help other prisoners. "In my opinion," survivor Anna Palarczyk, a close friend of Mala, explained to the author, "resistance in Birkenau was to help each other survive. And Mala was eager to help; that was deeply rooted in her ethics" [14]. A privileged prisoner, Mala could have easily just gone about her work focused on personal survival. No one would have faulted her. In a concentration camp, this was normal, in fact required. Even so, she chose to help prisoners less fortunate than herself and in this way resisted the terrible inevitability of Auschwitz, dehumanization.

Mala fed starving prisoners [15]: "Now and then Mala brought me some bread, a little honey, a carrot. Without that, I would have died." She used to encourage desperate persons [16]: "Having recovered from typhoid fever, I had no shoes, I was really skinny. It was Mala who scolded me: 'Take care of yourself! Get decent clothing! You've got to wash somehow!'" She used to spread information [17]: "She supplied us with newspaper clippings which we read before passing them on." Irrespective of the danger of being caught, Mala used to carry messages or medicine [18]: "'News for you from Birkenau,' one of my comrades told me. I hurried to the lavatory, the usual place for secret meetings. Mala was waiting there. 'Greetings from your friend,' she said. 'She is ill; she needs medicine, Digitalis or Cardiazol.' - 'I don't have any,' I said desperately; 'I shall try and get some but no one dares to smuggle anything into Birkenau...' - 'I will,' Mala interrupted me with a handwave, and she did."

Mala even managed to send cryptic warnings to her family back in Belgium. As the German authorities wanted to counteract rumors about the extermination of the deportees (and at the same time track down any Jews living underground), Jewish prisoners were given the opportunity to write to their relatives. On a postcard dated August 25, 1943, Mala wrote to her elder sister [19]: "Don't worry, I am in good health, working as an interpreter... All the others are together with Etush." To which one must add that Etush, Mala's sister-in-law, had died before the war. Another postcard from Mala, dated October 25, 1943, read [20]: "My dear sister, why don't you write me? You know that every couple of lines from you will renew my courage to face life... Where are our dear parents; why don't they correspond? What about the dear children? Thinking of it will drive me mad..." Mala's misgivings were justified: Her parents and her three nephews, aged 3, 5, and 6, had been killed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz long before; five of an estimated one-and-a-half-million human beings murdered there.

Above all, Mala saved lives. One of her functions was to assign the prisoners released from the camp hospital to various work details. Survivors emphasize that on those occasions Mala was of tremendous help to many [21]. "It did not matter whether they were Jews or Poles or whatever. Whenever possible, she sent the weaker ones to a place where the guards were not that strict or work was not that heavy, so that these people had at least a small chance to survive," Anna Palarczyk recalls [22], adding: "I have a very clear memory of it - Mala going ahead, followed by those women without shoes, without pants, without a dress, just wrapped in a blanket... Mala's appearance in the camp was elegant; that was such a contrast." Another survivor remembers that Mala saved her life twice [23]: "The first time by getting me out of a terrible labor command where we had to work in the marshes, carrying cobblestones for road construction. The second time by replacing 13A on a filing card with 25B which took me out of the hospital block." Obviously, Mala frequently used to warn others against coming selections, urging patients to leave the camp hospital as soon as possible [24]. "My sister-in-law and I caught typhus, so we decided to report sick. Somebody told Mala we were about to be transferred into the camp hospital, and in front of the SS guards she shouted at us: 'You lazy bitches; you are absolutely fit. Go to work! Forward!' When we came back from work in the evening, we learned why Mala had done everything to keep us from entering the ward. That day, all the people in the camp hospital had been gassed." In fact, SS statistics of December 12, 1943 show a decrease in the overall number of female prisoner patients from 9,324 to 7,418; within one day, almost two thousand women had been murdered [25].

How did Mala Zimetbaum manage to offer resistance in such a variety of ways? Though there is little indication that she joined the organized resistance movement that existed in the women's camp, there is testimony that she cooperated with it closely. Margita Svalbova, then a member of that movement, recalls [26] that "in order to save human lives, to caution against dangers such as selections or roll-calls, and to thwart particular directions of the SS, we had confidantes in almost every block. That is why Mala could act in such a highly courageous way - which means that she must have ranked high with the resistance."

To be sure, there were many other Jewish resisters in Auschwitz [27]. For example, Roza Robota, who together with several other women managed to smuggle explosives to the men of the Sonderkommando (special work detail) in Birkenau. They were the prisoners forced to work in the crematoria. Some of them used these explosives to set fire to Krematorium IV during their now famous revolt in October, 1944. And there is the story of the unknown Jewish woman who on arrival in Birkenau grabbed SS officer Schillinger's pistol and fired, mortally wounding him and a second SS as well. Such singular acts of rebellion in spite of the SS terror caused much sensation among the concentration camp inmates. Naturally, survivors' memories of such occurrences are often confused with camp rumor and myth. This is why, occasionally, the above mentioned women are confused with Mala Zimetbaum.

Mala's way of offering resistance was more subtle, but nevertheless effective; the more so since her activities spread over almost two years. Giza Weisblum, a relative of Mala who met her again in Auschwitz, summarizes [28]: "Mala was known as a person ready to help. She used to act in the way she regarded as appropriate, and, regardless of nationality or political affiliation, helped everyone as best as she could."


In late 1943 or early 1944, Mala Zimetbaum made the acquaintance of Edward Galinski, a Polish fellow prisoner. Edek, as everyone called him, was then only 20 years old. Nevertheless, he was one of the "oldest" prisoners, with the low number 531. He had been brought to Auschwitz from the prison at Tarnow, along with 727 other men, on June 14, 1940, on the very first transport. His job as a mechanic brought him into contact with a few civilians from outside who worked on the construction of the camp, and also took him into various sub-camps of Auschwitz, including the women's camp at Birkenau where he came to meet Mala [29].

In time, Mala and Edek fell in love. Since any personal relationships among concentration camp prisoners were strictly forbidden, it was difficult for love affairs to develop. Mala's and Edek's relationship was one of the few that did. It was kept secret; with fellow prisoners loyally attempting to guard the relationship from the authorities. On the other hand, it was stripped of secrecy since Mala and Edek were hardly ever alone. According to eyewitness accounts, all the lovers could enjoy was an occasional private moment in a side room of a barrack containing x-ray equipment used by SS physicians for inhuman "medical" experiments [30].

One day, Mala presented Edek with a portrait of herself which she had asked a comrade, the artist Zofja Stepien, to make. Indeed, the crayon drawing bears some resemblance to earlier photographs of her [31].

Some time in spring 1944, Mala learned about Edward Galinski's plans to escape together with a Polish friend. Edek would try to obtain an SS officer's uniform and lead his mate out of the camp, presumably for outside work. Mala suggested that the two should take her along. Edek willingly agreed but his friend raised objections: the company of a third person, a woman, a Jew, a foreigner as well, would make the escape too risky. In the end, the disagreement was settled when Edek decided to attempt the escape with Mala alone [32].

Several fellow prisoners report that Mala changed during the summer of 1944, conceivably because of the immense increase in mass exterminations in the camp. Faced with trainloads and trainloads of Jewish deportees gassed, and with the crematoria working at maximum capacity, Mala Zimetbaum was said to have become desperate, pensive, and quiet [33]. Mala spoke of her escape plans only to her closest friends, the three messengers with whom she shared bunks, and Giza Weisblum, a relative from Belgium. They helped her in getting a map of southern Poland, an inconspicuous dress which she could wear under a male worker's overalls, and a pass. According to some accounts, Mala Zimetbaum carried documents revealing the extent of the exterminations; however, there is no evidence of that [34].

The escape was scheduled for Saturday, June 24, 1944. On weekends, the guard was lighter than usual. By noon, Mala and Herta Roth, one of the messengers, approached the guardhouse, and while the messenger got the SS ward involved in conversation, Mala went to the washroom to change. The clothes had previously been hidden there, together with a porcelain washbasin, which Mala was to carry on her shoulders to conceal her face. Herta Roth remembers [35]: "When she appeared, I helped her lift the washbasin, making sure her hair did not show. So she set off. I followed her with my eyes, and when she started tripping in ladylike fashion, I sang along in Slovakian so that she could hear it, 'longer strides, longer strides,' and she obeyed." Giza Weisblum also describes the scene [36]: "From a distance, I could see Mala leaving the guardhouse, bent under the weight of the washbowl on her head, her face almost completely hidden by it. Outside, Edek was waiting. He had concealed himself in a potato bunker not far from the guardhouse. Edek let Mala go first and followed a few paces behind her. This was the procedure for an SS man leading a prisoner." The couple would have to pass another sentry line before Mala could discard the washbasin and take off her overalls, so that they would give the appearance of an SS officer off duty with his girl friend.

The disappearance of Mala and Edek was discovered during roll call in the evening. Mala's messenger friends were interrogated about her whereabouts. As they gave nothing away, they were stripped of their functions and assigned to the Strafkompanie (Penal Company). The next morning, the SS commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Josef Kramer, sent telegrams to police posts and checkpoints in the area [37]:

"re: Malka Zimetbaum, Jewess in protective custody, born 26/1/18 in Brzesko, committed by RSHA on 17/9/1942. - Particulars: 1.65m tall, brown hair, speaks French, Flemish, English, German and Polish, gray eyes, distinguishing marks: No 19880 tattooed on left forearm. - on 24/6/1944 Zimetbaum has escaped from ConCamp Auschwitz."

The Final Stage

The last contemporary document pertaining to Mala Zimetbaum is another telegram [38], dated July 26, 1944, which reads:

"re: Galinski Edward, Pole in protective custody, born 5/10/23 in Wieckowice; Zimetbaum Malka, Jewess in protective custody, born 26/1/18 in Brzesko - ref: telegram of 25/6/44 - according to telegram of 7/7/44 from police station Bielitz, above mentioned were recaptured and returned to this camp."

Stories about when, where, and how Mala and Edek were recaptured vary greatly. Some accounts maintain that the couple was caught on a train, or a bar, a restaurant or hotel in Katowice or Krakow. Others claim they attracted the attention of German officials by trying to settle a restaurant or a physician's bill with gold. The version that is probably more accurate was given by female prisoners working at the Auschwitz registry, as they had access to the records [39]. Accordingly, the two were captured by a German frontier patrol in the Beskidy mountains on July 6, 1944, while attempting to enter Slovakia. Mala Zimetbaum and Edek Galinski were taken to the police station in Bielitz (in Polish, Bielsko). The next day, they were identified as fugitives and returned to Auschwitz.

Mala and Edek were imprisoned in separate cells in the basement of Block 11, a brick building on the premises of Auschwitz main camp which served as a high security jail and which was aptly referred to as "The Block of Death." They were repeatedly interrogated by SS officers of the camp Gestapo's political department. Lilly Majerczyk, one of the prisoners working in the political department, relates [40]: "The interrogations were held in our office. Mala did not give anybody away. We talked with her in the corridor, even though that was strictly prohibited." The examinations soon turned into torture but Mala and Edek would not reveal anything. Rather, they both stated they had escaped separately in SS uniforms, thus making their interrogators search for accomplices among the SS. The penalty was death, according to recent orders from the RSHA. The sentence had to be confirmed by SS headquarters in Berlin, so the couple were held in their cells for several weeks. Giza Weisblum recalls having received a scribbled message from Mala [41]: "I know what is awaiting me. I am prepared for the worst. Be brave and remember everything."

Visitors to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim will find graffiti scratched into the walls of a windowless cell in the basement of former Block 11. One can read the words "Mala Zimetbaum 19880 + Galinski Edward 531 + 6.VII.44."

As for the execution of the sentence, it is difficult to separate fact from legend as the accounts vary [42]. Even the date is uncertain. Estimates range from mid-July to September 22; the most likely alternatives being August 22 or September 15, 1944. A statement of the resistance movement says that on the latter day, Edward Galinski and five others were hanged in public in the men's section of Auschwitz-Birkenau [43]. He was not yet 21 years old.

After evening roll-call, the female prisoners were ordered to form a circle near Block 4 in the women's camp B1b. The LagerfŸhrerin (camp supervisor) Maria Mandel, overseer Margot Drechsler, and several SS guards were also present when Mala Zimetbaum was brought forward by SS UnterscharfŸhrer (corporal) Ruiters, then head of work details. Thousands of women were to witness Mala's death. Survivors' recollections about whether or not a gallows had been erected vary.

The following events can only be reconstructed on the basis of eyewitness accounts. While the camp supervisor read something from a sheet of paper, prisoner-physician Margita Svalbova noticed "some motion next to Mala. Mala was carrying something in her hand. It was a razor blade. Suddenly she cut her wrist with that razor blade, her face motionless, determined. Slowly, blood began to flow down her palm" [44]. Like the other bystanders, Giza Weisblum was "petrified with horror. Ruiters probably noticed the expression on our faces and suspected that something was happening. He looked at Mala - then grabbed her arm" [45]. According to Mala's camp friend Herta Roth, "Ruiters wanted to get hold of the blade but she pushed him away" [46]. Margita Svalbova recalls: "All of a sudden, in view of thousands of prisoners, Mala hit him right in the face with her unhurt hand" [47]. Undoubtedly, such an exceptional act of individual revolt, despair, and pride made a lasting impression on many of those present.

Pronouncement of the sentence was interrupted; the execution could not proceed as planned. SS guards rushed at the victim. They broke Mala's hand trying to wrest the blade from her; they bound her and beat her. Confusion arose. The guards ordered the prisoners to return to their barracks. Ruiters pushed Mala towards the camp hospital. Prisoner nurses attempted to bandage Mala's wounds but the camp supervisor forbade it. "She stared at the bleeding woman with utmost hatred, yelling 'This beast must be burned alive!'", Margita Svalbova says [48], repeatedly affirming that she "was present in person when that happened". Maria Mandel ordered a handcart to be brought on which they put Mala. Accompanied by Ruiters, some fellow prisoners dragged the cart with the dying woman toward the crematoria [49].

It is not certain whether Mala Zimetbaum died on her last journey, whether she was in fact burned to death or whether Ruiters, in enforcement of the sentence, shot her at the crematorium. In a declaration of death issued much later, after the end of World War II, Belgian authorities laconically state [50] that "Zimetbaum Malka ... is presumably deceased at an unknown place between August 18, 1944, and June 1, 1945."

Mala's last words

These events produced many legends about Mala's life, her personality, actions, and motives. The tendency to present Mala as a heroine becomes most obvious when considering various accounts of her last words [51].

Some survivors report that Mala's last words were addressed to the SS. According to Raya Kagan [52], camp rumor had Mala saying "I fall a heroine and you will die as a dog." Krystyna Zywulska and Lena Berg agree on the following [53]: "I know I'm dying but it doesn't matter. What matters is that you are dying, too, and your gangster Reich with you. Your hours are numbered, and pretty soon you'll be paying for your crimes!" This, too, is improbable because a similar speech has also been attributed to an anonymous Polish woman facing the gas chambers, who may have been confused with Mala Zimetbaum [54].

According to other survivors, Mala Zimetbaum's last words were a stirring appeal addressed to her fellow prisoners. Giza Weisblum and Louise Alcan [55] both quote Mala saying: "Don't be afraid, girls! Their end is near, I am certain of this. I know. I was free!" Olga Lengyel's version is [56]: "Courage, friends! They shall pay. Liberation is in sight." And in her autobiography, Fania Fenelon gives the following speech [57]: "Revolt! Rise up! There are thousands of you. Attack them - they're cowards, and even if you're killed, anything's better than this. At least you'll die free. Revolt!" Though widely quoted, that source is rather unreliable as it draws a stereotypical, somewhat romanticized picture of Mala.

All these reputed last words are to be taken with some caution. In the first place, they imply a desire to emphasize Mala's heroism. Heroes often give impressive speeches. Interestingly, none of the accounts is precise about the language in which Mala's last words were delivered. Most probably, the dying woman would not have had enough strength to address a large audience. So it is most likely that only fragments of words were understood by some. Mala Zimetbaum's relative Giza Weisblum credibly reports [58] that in a weak voice, Mala told a few fellow prisoners at the camp hospital: "Do not cry; the day of reckoning is near. Remember everything they did to us."

We shall never know for sure exactly what Mala's last words were, or her intent. Does it really matter?

It is not words or the dramatic circumstances of her death that make Mala Zimetbaum one of the great Jewish women of valor. Mala has become a symbol of solidarity, bravery, and compassion because of her behavior in the most extreme conditions imaginable. Her legacy is in deeds, in her unremitting attempts to save lives, to support the weak, to encourage the oppressed and uphold humanity, in her quiet and determined resistance against the ubiquitous terror of the Holocaust.

The Austrian historian and Auschwitz survivor Hermann Langbein wrote [59]: "In a concentration camp, to resist essentially means to preserve life." This is precisely what Mala Zimetbaum did.

Despite its tragic end, Mala's story is a story of freedom and humanity, a story of life, and life sustained. "Remember everything" - Mala Zimetbaum shall not be forgotten. Remember.


[1] Esrati, S.G. (1997). Mala's last words. Idea: A Journal of Social Issues. WWW document.

[2] Van den Berghe, G. (1995). Getuigen. Belgische bibliografie over de nazi-kampen [Witnesses. Belgian bibliography concerning Nazi camps]. Brussels, B: Navorsings- en Studiecentrum voor de Geschiedenis van de Tweede Wereldoorlog.

[3] Blawut, J. & Zarnecki, M. (1989). Tšdliche Romanze. Eine Liebe im KZ [Deadly romance. A love affair in a concentration camp]. TV documentation, 45 min. Warsaw, PL: Michal Zarnecki Productions (first broadcast in German by ARD-HR, September 11, 1990).

[4] Sichelschmidt, L. (1995). Mala - ein Leben und eine Liebe in Auschwitz [Mala - a life and a love in Auschwitz]. Bremen, D: Donat Verlag.

[5] Comprehensive treatments of Jewish resistance which refer to Mala Zimetbaum:

Gutman, I (1990). Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. London, GB: Macmillan-Collier.

Langbein, H. (1996). Against all hope: Resistance in the Nazi Concentration Camps, 1938-1945. New York, NY: Continuum (first published in 1980).

Lustiger, A. (1994). Zum Kampf auf Leben und Tod: Vom Widerstand der Juden 1933-1945 [Mortal combat: Jewish resistance 1933-1945]. Cologne, D: Kiepenheuer and Witsch.

Mark, B. (1982). Des voix dans la nuit: La resistance Juive a Auschwitz-Birkenau [Voices in the night: The Jewish resistance in Auschwitz-Birkenau]. Paris, F: Plon (first published in 1977).

Strobl, I. (1998). Die Angst kam erst danach: JŸdische Frauen im Widerstand in Europa, 1939-1945 [No time to be afraid: Jewish women resisters in Europe, 1939-1945]. Stuttgart, D: Fischer.

[6] City of Antwerp, B: Municipal archives (Document 50308).

[7] Schipper, M.Y. (1986). Personal communication (16. January)

[8] Based on recollections of Mala Zimetbaum's relatives:

Cymetbaum-Fischer, M. (1989). Personal communication (May 14).

Schipper, M.Y. (1986). Personal communication (January 16).

Weisblum, G. (1975). The escape and death of the runner Mala Zimetbaum. In: Y. Suhl (Ed.). They fought back: The true story of the heroic Jewish resistance to Nazi slaughter. New York, NY: Schocken (first published in 1968).

[9] Fastag, E. (1994). Personal communication (November 22).

[10] The Holocaust in Belgium from the point of view of contemporary history:

Klarsfeld, S. & Steinberg, M. (1982). Memorial de la Deportation des Juifs de Belgique [Memorial of the deportation of Jews from Belgium]. Latham, NY: Beate Klarsfeld Foundation.

Steinberg, M. (1983/1984). L'etoile et le fusil [The star and the rifle]. 2 volumes. Brussels, B: Vie Ouvriere.

[11] Czech, D. (1997). Auschwitz Chronicle, 1939-1945. New York, NY: Holt.

[12] Palarczyk, A. (1985). Personal communication (October 10).

[13] Based on recollections of Mala Zimetbaum's acquaintances:

Palarczyk, A. (1985). Personal communication (October 10).

Roth, H. (1986). Personal communication (March 2).

Weisblum, G. (1986). Personal communication (June 15).

[14] Palarczyk, A. (1986). Personal communication (January 27).

[15] Liwschitz, R. (1994). Temoignage [Testimony]. Points Critiques, 56, 16-25.

[16] Palarczyk, A. (1986). Personal communication (January 27).

[17] Liwschitz, R. (1994). Temoignage [Testimony]. Points Critiques, 56, 16-25.

[18] Kagan, R. (1962). Mala. In: H.G. Adler, H. Langbein & E. Lingens-Reiner (Eds.), Auschwitz. Zeugnisse und Berichte [Auschwitz. Evidence and testimonials]. Frankfurt, D: EuropŠische Verlagsanstalt (first published in 1947).

[19] Postcard in possession of Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Research Center, Jerusalem, IL. Courtesy of Giza Weisblum.

[20] Postcard in possession of Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Research Center, Jerusalem, IL. Courtesy of Giza Weisblum.

[21] Matching accounts of several fellow prisoners. A recent collection can be found in a special issue of the journal "Points Critiques" (No. 56, October 1994; Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique, Brussels, B) dedicated to the memory of Mala Zimetbaum.

[22] Palarczyk, A. (1986). Personal communication (January 27).

[23] Alcan, L. (1980). Le temps ecartele [Torn time]. Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, F: Truchet.

[24] Rabinowicz, D. (1986). Personal communication (March 6).

[25] Czech, D. (1997). See [11]. Chronicle entry: December 12, 1943.

[26] Svalbova, M. (1995). Personal communication (September 2).

[27] A comprehensive overview that portrays both victims and perpetrators:

Langbein, H. (1972). Menschen in Auschwitz [People in Auschwitz]. Vienna, A: Europa-Verlag.

[28] Weisblum, G. (1975). See [8].

[29] Kielar, W. (1972). Anus mundi. 1,500 days in Auschwitz/Birkenau. New York, NY: Times.

[30] Based on:

Kielar, W. (1972). See [29].

Kielar, W. & Palarczyk, A. (1989). Individual statements in Blawut & Zarnecki TV documentation. See [3].

Pawelczynska, A. (1979). Values and violence in Auschwitz. A sociological analysis. Berkeley, CA: University Press.

[31] Now on display at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Oswiecim, PL.

[32] Based on:

Kielar, W. (1972). See [29].

Kielar, W. & Palarczyk, A. (1989). Individual statements in Blawut & Zarnecki TV documentation. See [3].

Weisblum, G. (1975). See [8].

Weisblum, G. (1986). Personal communication (June 15).

[33] Recollections:

Palarczyk, A. (1986). Personal communication (January 27).

Svalbova, M. (1986). Personal communication (February 3).

[34] Based on recollections of Mala Zimetbaum's acquaintances:

Roth, H. (1986). Personal communication (March 2).

Weisblum, G. (1986). Personal communication (June 15).

[35] Roth, H. (1986). Personal communication (March 2).

[36] Weisblum, G. (1975). See [8].

[37] Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Oswiecim, PL: Archives (Microfilms 88-157/8).

[38] Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Oswiecim, PL: Archives (Microfilm 88-185).

[39] Based on recollections of former prisoners:

Kagan, R. (1962). See [18].

Ourisson, D. (1946). Les secrets du bureau politique d'Auschwitz [The secrets of the Auschwitz political department]. In: Temoignages sur Auschwitz. Paris, F: Amicale des deportes d'Auschwitz.

Wasserstrom, D. (1985). Personal communication (September 12).

Schaner, J. (1986). Testimony. In: L. Shelley (Ed.), Secretaries of death. New York, NY: Shengold.

Spritzer, J. (1980). Ich war Nr. 10291 [I was No. 10291]. Darmstadt, D: Verlag DarmstŠdter BlŠtter (first published in 1946)

[40] Majerczyk, L. (1985). Personal communication (October 31).

[41] Weisblum, G. (1975). See [8].

[42] Critical discussions of facts and myths concerning Mala Zimetbaum:

Pollak, M. (1988). Die Grenzen des Sagbaren [The boundaries of the describable]. Frankfurt, D: Campus.

Van den Berghe, G. (1987). Met de dood voor ogen [In view of death]. Berchem, B: EPO Publishers.

[43] Based on a communique of the Auschwitz resistance, dated September 18, 1944:

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Oswiecim, PL: Archives (Microfilm 1963/66, 66a).

Czech, D. (1997). See [11]. Chronicle entry: September 15, 1944.

[44] Svalbova, M. (1986). Personal communication (February 3).

[45] Weisblum, G. (1975). See [8].

[46] Roth, H. (1986). Personal communication (March 2).

[47] Schwalbova, M. (= Svalbova, M.; 1994). Elf Frauen. Eine€rztin berichtet aus Auschwitz-Birkenau [Eleven women. A physician in Auschwitz-Birkenau]. Amweiler, D: Plšger (first published in 1964).

[48] Largely matching recollections of eyewitnesses:

Svalbova, M. (1986). Personal communication (January 19).

Weisblum, G. (1975). See [8].

[49] Matching accounts of eyewitnesses, in particular:

Birnbaum, S. (1946). Malla la Belge [Malla the Belgian]. In: Temoignages sur Auschwitz. Paris, F: Amicale des deportes d'Auschwitz.

Roth, H. (1986). Personal communication (March 2).

Svalbova, M. (1994). See [47].

Weisblum, G. (1975). See [8].

[50] Ministry of Public Health and Family Affairs, Brussels, B: Archives (Document P/15,444PD/MM of October 29, 1954).

[51] Comparisons provided in:

Mark, B. (1982). See [5].

Esrati, S.G. (1997). See [1].

Van den Berghe, G. (1987). See [42].

[52] Kagan, R. (1962). See [18].

[53] Two almost identical accounts:

Berg, L. (1965). Recollection. In: A. Donat (Ed.), The Holocaust kingdom. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Zywulska, K. (1979). Wo vorher Birken waren. [Once there were birchtrees]. Munich, D: Kindler (first published in 1949).

[54] Czech, D. (1997). See [11]. Chronicle entry: February 29, 1944.

[55] Two almost identical accounts:

Alcan, L. (1980). See [21].

Weisblum, G. (1975). See [8].

[56] Lengyel, O. (1995). Five chimneys. Chicago: Academy Chicago Press (first published in 1946).

[57] Fenelon, F. (1997). Playing for Time. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press (first published in 1976). Commented on by Weisblum, G. (1985). Personal communication (December 6).

[58] Weisblum, G. (1975). See [8].

[59] Langbein, H. (1996). See [5].

See also:
Companion photographs by Lorenz Sichelschmidt