“I will die as a hero and you will die as a dog”

Here is discussion of a film I would like to see: How the Very First Holocaust Film Was Forgotten and Rediscovered, made in 1947 with actual Holocaust survivors playing roles as prisoners at Auschwitz. I imagine it was not made in colour, wide-screen and with a sweet and false disposition of universal goodness beneath the surface evils of reality, so no one wants to see it in cinemas. It also shows Jews as victims, which is itself against the grain of modern ideologies of the left, the gatekeepers in almost all such decisions. I can also believe this is part of what keeps it from release:

A reexamination of the film all these years later clearly reveals its historical weaknesses; after all, it’s a communist propaganda film. Praise for Russia, Stalin and the Red Army is woven in. They are depicted as the prisoners’ only saviors – without any mention, of course, of Stalin’s cooperation with Hitler at the start of the war or of the war crimes committed by the Russians. In the film, all resistance to the Nazis is led by communist women. There is no trace of any resistance by other groups. The prisoners’ social solidarity in the face of evil is portrayed in the spirit of “The Internationale.”

The only people again who would wish to suppress any of this are on the left who no longer wish to be reminded of their ancestral blood relations. This story, however, is truly incredible, and portrayed in the film. You will have to go to the link to find the movie version, but this apparently is what actually happened which is a story of such heroism that I am almost unable to think of anything else as incredible, or as dramatic.

The Marta Weiss character is based on a true story – the story of Mala (Malka) Zimetbaum, a Polish Jew who moved to Belgium with her family as a child and was deported to Auschwitz in 1942. Fluent in several languages, she was chosen to serve as an interpreter at the camp and used her job to help other prisoners. In the camp, she met Edward (Edek) Galinski, a Polish political prisoner, and a romance developed.

They decided to escape together, in the hope of bringing news about the camp to the free world. On June 24, 1944, they escaped from Auschwitz-Birkenau. Galinski disguised himself as an SS officer and pretended to be escorting a Jewish prisoner to work outside the camp. They were caught two weeks later. One account says Zimetbaum went into a shop to buy bread and was spotted by a German patrol that happened to be passing by. The two were returned to Auschwitz and were executed together in September 1944.

The story of Zimetbaum’s execution is just as dramatic as that of her escape. Naama Shik described it in an article on the Yad Vashem website in which she examined Zimetbaum’s story from the perspective of gender studies.

“When the verdict was read, she slit her wrists and slapped the SS man in the face with her bloody hand when he tried to stop her. The execution was interrupted,” Shik writes. “I will die as a hero and you will die as a dog,” Zimetbaum said to the SS man, according to eyewitness testimony. She was taken in a wagon to the camp hospital to stop the bleeding – so the execution could then continue as planned.

Several prisoners reported that she died on the way to the crematorium. Others say she was shot to death. Edek, her beloved, who is said to have etched her name into the walls of his prison block, shouted “long live Poland” as he was being hanged. Zimetbaum became a legend after her death. In the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust edited by Prof. Israel Gutman, she is listed as the first woman to escape from Auschwitz.

“According to eyewitness testimony!” One of the great heroines of human history. I cannot believe I have never been allowed to hear her name before, or that the film has not found its way into wider release.

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